Claudio Pizarro is approaching full fitness for SV Werder Bremen. The 38-year-old scored 14 goals to help his side escape relegation last season, and after a spell on the sidelines with a muscle strain, he is raring to go once again.
In this, the first of a two-part exclusive interview on bundesliga.com, the Peruvian talks about his recent return to the team and the emergence of Serge Gnabry.
bundesliga.com: It is winter once again in Germany. In Bremen there is snow and the temperature is below freezing. Do you still enjoy training come rain or shine at 38 years old?
Claudio Pizarro: Yes, I still enjoy it a lot, even if the weather does not help at the moment (laughs). But it is always the same in Germany at this time of the year. I always look forward to playing football.
Watch: Claudio Pizarro's wonder-goal for SV Werder Bremen against Hannover 96 in 2015/16:
bundesliga.com: After a long injury, you made your comeback with Werder, playing 20 minutes against Schalke (the 3-1 loss on Matchday 10). It was your first game of the season. When can fans expect to see you back at 100 percent?
Pizarro: I felt good coming off the bench against Schalke, better than I thought. Of course, I still lack match fitness, but for the first appearance of the season it was very good. I have had a long break with many persistent injuries and I have to get my body back in top condition, but everything is going really well, I am very happy.
bundesliga.com: So, did you find the international break helpful?
Pizarro: Yes, I could use the time and the break in the Bundesliga schedule to increase my fitness. Each training session with the team helps me move forward.
bundesliga.com: The team is back in shape: Max Kruse is training again, and Philipp Bargfrede is back playing after a lay-off. How do you rate the performance of the team? At the moment, Werder is 16th with just seven points.
Pizarro: We had expectations before the season that we could achieve something great with our squad. We have lost many good players, but we have also signed some very good new players. Then, as is often the case in football, important players have been injured and we have not been able to play to our potential. I think if we have everybody fit then we will have no part in the relegation battle.
bundesliga.com: Werder is close to your heart. You are in your third spell at Bremen. What makes this club special to you?
Pizarro: Werder was my first club in Europe in 1999 and this is something very special for me. It was great that the club signed me at that time and I immediately felt comfortable here. Werder will always remain something special for me, even after my career.
bundesliga.com: With Serge Gnabry, Bremen once again has a Germany international in the squad. He won the Olympic silver medal with Germany in Rio. What future do you see for your young, highly-talented, teammate?
Pizarro: You could see immediately in his first training session that he has a lot of quality. He is very fast, which is very important for our game. He is developing well and has already scored a few goals for us. I am glad that he has played so well and earned a call up to the national team - it is confirmation of his good performances in recent months. He is a good player.
bundesliga.com: In the all-time list of Bundesliga goalscorers you are now ranked fifth with 190 goals. Do you think you can overtake Bremen legend Manfred Burgsmüller for fourth place? He has scored 213 goals…
Pizarro: Phew, that’s 23 more goals! That will be difficult.
bundesliga.com: If you want to overtake Burgsmüller, you might have to play for another season…
Pizarro: Maybe I'll manage to play beyond this season...
Pizarro was speaking to Alexander Barklage
Part II of the interview will be available next week! Check back then as Pizarro talks about the Nordderby against HSV, the current top scorers, and his future in the game