Stuttgart - His injury troubles consigned to the history books, fit and firing Germany midfielder has become somewhat emblematic of Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga revival.
Speaking after helping BVB to their third successive league win in Friday's humdinger at VfB Stuttgart, the 24-year-old star discussed the Yellow-Blacks' form spike, next week's trip to Juventus FC in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and the upcoming Revierderby with FC Schalke 04...
Question: Ilkay Gündogan, Borussia Dortmund capped a hard week by
beating VfB Stuttgart to make it three wins on the bounce. How big a relief is it?
Ilkay Gündogan: Of course we're really pleased. Having said that, we had a few wobbles. In the key moments, we didn't always make the right decisions in defence and in attack. That's why there was a bit of a grandstand finish. It was completely unnecessary from our point of view.
Question: Your goal to make it 2-1 was clinical, though - a toe poke past Sven Ulreich...
Gündogan:Shinji Kagawa set me up brilliantly with the back heel and the defender knocked the ball into my path. The toe poke was the only thing I could do. Luckily it went in.
Question: BVB wasted several chances in the second half. What was that about?
Gündogan: It's hard to say. We had plenty of chances, we were either offside or the final ball was off. That's not like us, we have to do better.
Question: After three wins in a row, Dortmund must be feeling pretty confident ahead of the game at Juventus in the Champions League.
Gündogan: Of course. We've rediscovered our confidence in the last three games. We've always put in good performances in the Champions League. Obviously that's no guarantee - it's going to be a really tough game. We're looking forward to it.
Question: You've done well in the Champions League so far this season...
Gündogan: Of course, but Juventus are no easy opponent. It's not going to get any easier in this competition. Every team has their own qualities, Juve included. The second leg's at home for us, that could be an advantage.
Question: What exactly do you need to do better against Juventus?
Gündogan: It's a completely different competition. We definitely have to do better defensively on the road. If we can get a goal then we'll be in a good position for the second leg.
Question: After the game in Turin you've got the derby against Schalke next Saturday. Is that already on your mind?
Gündogan: We're only thinking about Juve. If we get a positive result, then we'll think about the derby.
Question But you're confident enough...
Gündogan: I hope so. It's always a special game against Schalke. We're at home and obviously want the three points.
Jens Fischer reporting from Stuttgart