Bayer Leverkusen secured their top-flight status with their best home display of 2017, coming from 2-0 down to secure a precious point in their Rhine derby with Cologne. Veteran forward Stefan Kießling, who put in an inspirational display, is convinced Die Werkself have brighter days ahead.
Question: Stefan Kießling, when you get a kiss from the sporting director in the mixed zone, the sense of relief must be great in Leverkusen…
Stefan Kießling: What the team showed over 90 minutes was incredible. We allowed them two shots on goal and both of them went in. It was a real setback to us on the pitch and a shock. But we somehow managed to turn things round. It was a crazy game, and after getting back to 2-2, we had chances to completely turn it on its head. But we should be happy with the point. Overall, it's a fair result. We came back from 2-0 down in a derby and secured our top-flight status. So we can be happy.
Question: You were in this situation and spoke a lot to the fans. On the pitch you were everywhere. How annoying was it to get just a point despite your domination and hitting the woodwork twice?
Kießling: It's disappointing, of course. I haven't started many games this season. All that's important for a forward is the ball comes forward cleanly. Everyone who knows me knows that I can be dangerous. Today that was the case. Timo Horn made some good saves. We were unlucky hitting the post and the bar. But I was in the right place and had chances, that's a good thing. The goals will come sooner or later.
Question: Did you feel the bond with the fans, who all came to the game dressed in red?
Kießling: You could feel and see that before the game. What has happened on our journey this season has been incredible. It pushed every single player. We pushed ourselves for the whole 90 minutes. I always tried to keep the youngsters switched on and told them that we couldn't give up and could turn the game around. It worked well.
Question: The relief is great, but how do you evaluate the season overall?
Kießling: We don't need to talk about that. We have to get this season out of our systems. But you do also have to talk about what has happened in the last 18 months. I'm convinced, however, that this season won't be repeated.
Question: Can you tell us where the fountain of youth is that you dip into? You played like in your best days.
Kießling: There's no fountain of youth, just a coach who counts on me. In the summer, I was in a difficult position. After that, I took things in hand, though I always trained with it. I have always said I'm fit, can play and help the team. When I get someone's confidence, I can repay it. I have to deal with the fact that my hip and physical condition mean I will almost certainly spend Sunday on my sofa. That is the reason why I'll consider whether or not to continue at all.
Question: You're keeping that option open?
Kießling: Yes, because I don't know what next season will bring.
Question: Does your decision depend on whom the new coach of Die Werkself will be?
Kießling: I won't go along with the nonsense that has happened in the last year-and-a-half any more. My head can't take it. If I'm here and training, I would also like to play. As you can see, I can also contribute. I have started five games this season and scored three goals, I think that says it all.
Question: Who would you like the new coach to be?
Kießling: I don't have anything to do with that. I would like one who counts on me and can take the squad in hand.
Quotes collated by Tobias Gonscherowski