Not only is Wout Weghorst scoring the goals to help push Wolfsburg towards UEFA Europa League qualification for the second year in a row, but Wolves' top scorer is also building a family off the pitch and takes great pride in both sides of life.
Speaking to bundesliga.com, Netherlands international Weghorst discusses Wolfsburg's push for European football, closing in on 100 career goals and the feeling of being a father now for the second time...
bundesliga.com: Wolfsburg have had a very good season. You have a chance to qualify for the UEFA Europa League again. How would you rate the season and how important is it to qualify for Europe?
Wout Weghorst: "Of course, it's a big goal for us to play in Europe again. Last year, we achieved the Europa League and that's definitely something we want to achieve this year again. For me as a player, those matches on a European level are important, important for your development and to become a better player, and they're nice games, so you want to play them. On the other side, we've had a good season. We've had some really good moments in the season so far. Sometimes it changes a little bit, but in the end, it's a good season. We're moving in a good way, it's not over yet, we have four matches left now and we have everything in our own hands to achieve Europe and to finish sixth in the table. If we can do that, we can be absolutely satisfied."
bundesliga.com: You celebrated with plenty of emotion after your goal against Werder Bremen, why was that? What is it like to score in an empty stadium?
Weghorst: "Yeah, that was actually my first time, the first three matches I played I didn't score. I have to be honest, for me, there was no difference. When I score a goal, in that moment you're so, I can't explain it, overwhelmed with the feeling of happiness. Of course, I want to score goals, I'm a striker and I didn't do it for a long time. Of course, the Corona time was involved in the middle and when we restarted I didn't find the goal for three matches, then it starts to trigger a little bit. It was just happiness, it was a nice feeling."
bundesliga.com: You're the club's top scorer with 14 goals so far. Last season you got 17. How do you rate your personal performance this season?
Weghorst: "Yeah, I’m satisfied. I've 18 goals so far, you said 14, in the Bundesliga it's 12. I always take them overall and overall last year I had 18, now I'm 18 again and I'm on a good way with that. Besides that, I'm not only looking at the goals, but my play, how important I am for the team, my own development of course, and I think I've made good steps forward. I just try to develop myself every season and every week again actually and I'm satisfied with that. It's a little bit the same as how I sum up our team, I had some really good sessions and some when it could've been better. So totally satisfied overall, I'm not, but your own expectations become higher in the second year. Last year was the first year with everything new and now with your own expectations you want to achieve those goals again and that's not always easy, but overall it's just working hard and trying to become better. Still, three matches to go for myself to play three good games and, of course, I want to score some more goals. Like I said for the team, it's the same for me, I'm on a good way."
bundesliga.com: You've scored 99 goals in your career, one more to 100. What does that mean to you and do you have a favourite goal?
Weghorst: "I just also saw it in the period, one two weeks ago I saw an article on the internet. My girlfriend sent it to me and said 'hey, you have two goals left to 100' and I didn't know it. Of course, now I know it and maybe it's something special to say I've scored 100 goals in my career, but I won't go crazy about it."
Watch: Weghorst's hat-trick at Hoffenheim!
bundesliga.com: On Matchday 22, you scored three goals in the 3-2 win at Hoffenheim, which was surely a highlight for you. Tell us about your hat-trick...
Weghorst: "Yeah, I think so. Those matches are really special and to score a hat-trick, last year I had two, this season I had one in Hoffenheim and those days, those matches everything comes together. Those are really nice and really special, it was a great feeling and this season that was absolutely one of the most beautiful games, I think."
bundesliga.com: You're a very emotional and ambitious player, but off the pitch, you appear very relaxed and humble. How would you describe yourself on and off the pitch?
Weghorst: "Those questions I always hate, to be honest, but I always start with myself as a person and not on the pitch. I'm just me and outside the pitch I'm quiet, I think. You said humble guy, that sounds good to me, it's something I want to be. Just be normal, take it easy and enjoy life. On the pitch, I think I'm still the same, but then something happens, some little switch goes on and I can be really emotional, of course, my ambitions are still there and will be until the end. I'm satisfied and as I said, you are who you are and that's me. In the past, you saw some back on the television or you hear some things and you think what are you doing here or you can take it a bit easier. Then you grow up a little bit and you know you can take it a bit more relaxed. In that, you'll change a little bit, but in the end, I'm still the guy I was when I was 19 with the same passion and the same attitude on the pitch. That's something which belongs to me and has brought me so far, so that's all good."
bundesliga.com: In April, you once again became a father to a daughter. How did you experience this special moment and how turbulent has it become at home?
Weghorst: "That was the only advantage of the Corona time, if you can call it an advantage – actually not, it was really special to be home for such a long period. The first time, with the first kid, you have two days and then it goes on and you have matches again. There was a long period, four or five weeks to be at home, that was really nice. To be a dad and have those two little girls is amazing. I get a lot of questions if I'm proud of my skills on the pitch or maybe the 100 goals I would make in my career. Of course, you're happy with it, but if I see my two girls that's something I'm really proud of. That's the most special thing in life and the most important thing. Earlier you just had football and it was everything, all day long from nine to six in the evening, in the club doing training and other things and now you have to find a bit of balance with that because in the last two years there has been something much more important than football and overall it makes me the happy man I am now."
bundesliga.com: You post a lot of personal photos of your kids on Instagram. Do you like to share your family life with fans and do you celebrate your two daughters in particular?
Weghorst: "I have an Instagram for my fans, so to say, there are a lot of people following me and I think in 2020 it's part of a football player and I want to give them a good look about me and who I am. Those are the most important things in my life and it's nice to share those things. Of course, you should be a little bit careful with the things you share and I always try to avoid the face and that's something we're a little bit careful of. On the other side, it's important to me and if people want to see me, then it's a nice thing to share so sometimes I do it."
bundesliga.com: You're an ambassador for the organisation 'Join for Joy'. Why is that in your heart and what do you do for them?
Weghorst: "Yeah, that's for one and a half years now, I think. I was supposed to go this summer to Uganda, where I started a new school, but with the Corona times, it will be changed a little bit. The idea they have is to bring children to school with a lot of fun, a lot of sports elements. The gym was probably the thing you liked the most as a child, it certainly was for me, and you see over there it's bringing kids a lot of happiness. In those countries, a lot of children don't go to school because they don't see it as necessary, they have to work at home and don't have fun over there. Their lifestyle and what is important is way different over there. I try to bring the sports element and fun in their lives. Join for Joy hopes to get the children to school and teach them a lot of important things in life. As a little kid, we went on vacation to Tanzania in Africa and there's a lot of poverty over there and I always had the feeling that when things are going well for me and I become a bit older, I'd like to do something for those kids and to help the people over there. Hopefully, that's something I can do now and it gives me a great feeling to help those kids maybe by one percent because then they are one percent happier."
bundesliga.com: Claudio Pizarro will retire from playing in the foreseeable future. What is your impression of him and how have you gotten to know him?
Weghorst: "I knew him already when I wasn't playing in Germany, when I was much younger and watching him on TV and saw him score his goals. I have a lot of respect for his career. I don't know him personally but a lot of respect for his career and the goals and prizes he won. A great all-time striker in the Bundesliga."
Watch: Wout Weghorst tactical analysis
bundesliga.com: You played a lot with your tongue in an interview last week. It was probably subconscious, or did it have a particular meaning?
Weghorst: "I saw it back and got a lot of videos and on the bus, we were laughing about it. I think, first of all, I wasn't really clear that the interview had already started because there were two or three behind each other, so I wasn't really focused over there. Of course, I saw it and I have no idea what I did over there. It looks really stupid, but yeah, I have no idea."
bundesliga.com: You've scored nine goals away from home, but only three at home. Wolfsburg have secured 27 points away from home, only 18 at home. What comes to your mind as I say this?
Weghorst: "Actually, I've always had it in my entire career so far that I've scored more away than I did in my own stadium. Last year I think it was the same for us, we took more points when we play away, but I have no idea why it's like that and of course, it's different with the Corona and with fans, it's not something you can say right now. But it's how it is and for me, it's not that important. Of course, you want to play well for your own fans, score the goals over there and get the three points at home, but in the end, it's most important that we get those points and at the end of the season nobody is looking at whether you took them at home or away. Hopefully next season we'll turn it around and that'll be nice for the home fans."
bundesliga.com: You come from the Netherlands, a country with a huge football culture. Do you notice that the interest in the Bundesliga at home has increased?
Weghorst: "Yeah, definitely. Of course, it's the only football on television, I think Spain is starting also. Also in Holland, every match was on the television and we were speaking about every match, so there was a lot of attention on it. They're following it a lot because as I said, we were the only competition playing."