Former Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen striker Claudio Pizarro is back in the Bundesliga with designs not just on lifting Cologne off the foot of the standings, but firing Peru past FIFA 2018 World Cup intercontinental play-off opponents New Zealand and to the finals in Russia.
bundesliga.com caught up with the league’s highest scoring non-German in history on the day of his return...
bundesliga.com: Claudio Pizarro, was it tough to say goodbye to football?
Claudio Pizarro: Not really, to be honest. I know the day will come eventually but not just yet. I always said I wanted to play for one more year, and if that comes this year, then so be it. I say that now, but who knows what’ll happen when this season is over (laughs). We’ll see how the campaign pans out and how I feel.
bundesliga.com: What does it mean to you to play for an extra year?
Pizarro: That was always my plan. I had some other offers previously but none of them entirely convinced me. I think having patience helped me, and being with Cologne means I can carry on in the Bundesliga. It’s also a club and a city with a lot of tradition. When they came calling, I said “That’s the one!” and it was an easy decision from there.
bundesliga.com: It’s a real challenge though looking at Cologne’s current situation, right? (Cologne are currently bottom without a win)
Pizarro: Of course, but having seen how the team played last season, I knew they had players of real quality. They also managed to finish fifth, so even though the team I struggling right now, I think it’s a mental issue more than anything else. So there’s work to be done, but a win can quickly change things for the better.
Watch: Pizarro's place in Bremen goalscoring history
bundesliga.com: What do you think of your new teammate, fellow South American Jhon Cordoba from Colombia?
Pizarro: I watched him closely last season. He’s a really good player and scores plenty of goals. I know it’s not quite working for him right now, but I also know from my own experience that this can happen in football. Things can be difficult, but you overcome those problems. A player with his quality will turn things around. One goal often brings another and then another. I think that’ll definitely be the case for him.
bundesliga.com: What are your aims for this season?
Pizarro: We’ll see. I’ve only just arrived… First we have to get ourselves out of this tough situation, and then we have to keep improving as a team. Then we’ll see where we get to.
bundesliga.com: Did the upcoming World Cup have anything to do with your decision?
Pizarro: Of course it did! I want to make sure I stay in shape because I’d love to go to the World Cup. But we can’t forget it’s all down to how Peru does [in the play-offs against New Zealand].
Watch: Pizarro's final Bremen goal
bundesliga.com: What’s it been like following the Bundesliga from home? What do you think about Bayern Munich’s current situation?
Pizarro: This year has been tough for them. It isn’t a given that they’ll win the league like previous years. I think they’ll have competitors and challengers, so it won’t be easy for them.
bundesliga.com: Will this be your final season as a player or will you return to Peru for one more?
Pizarro: I don’t know just yet. We’ll have to see how this season goes, and after that I’ll think about things and make a decision.
Pizarro was speaking to Carolina Ruiz Alonso