With two career goals against Bayern Munich to his name and a game modelled on Didier Drogba, new Cologne signing Jhon Cordoba’s confidence is more than a little understandable.
bundesliga.com caught up with the 24-year-old target man recently to get his thoughts on football in Germany, his role models in the game… and the culture shock that is recycling…
bundesliga.com: Jhon Cordoba, Colombia has exported many great strikers to Europe, such as Faustino Asprilla, or Adolfo Valencia – the 1990s Bayern player who everyone called "the train". Are they your role models?
Jhon Cordoba: Honestly, my role model is [Chelsea and Côte d’Ivoire legend] Didier Drogba! I just like his physical style of play, which he showed in every game when he was at Chelsea – the best period of his career.
bundesliga.com: Is your game becoming more similar to his? Have you improved as a player?
Cordoba: I have to keep working hard on my game. I'm not where I want to be yet. I want to become a great player, so I have to keep on pushing in that direction. I'm happy to have scored my first goals. I've improved physically and now I can start to score more.
bundesliga.com: Do you prefer to play as a lone striker or with a partner up front?
Cordoba: I can play both ways, but as a lone front man you often end up with support anyway. That’s what used to happen with Yunus Malli at Mainz. I really like playing this way.
Cordoba: To score in such a stadium, against a team like that and picking up three points, is of course wonderful. It was an incredible feeling, especially since my family back home were watching that game very closely.
Watch: Highlights of Mainz's shock 2-1 win at Bayern!
bundesliga.com: You are from Istmina, a town in the west of Colombia. How did you progress from there to this level of football?
Cordoba: I grew up in a small town [Istmina has a population of 25,000], but there was a football academy there. I first began playing with a ball when I was seven, and when I turned 11 I joined a professional academy where I could train at a higher level. My passion for football was always there. Becoming professional has always been my dream.
bundesliga.com: You had a curious route to Cologne: from Colombia to Germany via Mexico and Spain…
Cordoba: It is not that unusual: Mexican clubs like to sign Colombian players. I moved to Chiapas because the club wanted me to be the replacement for Jackson Martinez, who had just left for FC Porto. As for my style of play, I may look like Martinez, but it was difficult to replace him.
bundesliga.com: What did you know about the Bundesliga before you arrived?
Cordoba: The truth is that I let myself be advised by [former Mainz midfielder] Elkin Soto, who had played here for a long time and was also an international player for Colombia. At first I had some injuries that prevented me from playing. However, now I am playing in one of the most important leagues in the world.
Watch: Cordoba living the dream in Germany
bundesliga.com: What do you think of the Bundesliga compared to La Liga in Spain?
Cordoba: They are two completely different leagues. In the Bundesliga you have to go at full throttle - you cannot lose a single second. In Spain, the game is slower. Greater focus is put on possession and tactics. In Spain there are only two or three big teams, though. In Germany, anyone can beat anyone.
bundesliga.com: What do you think of the atmosphere in the stadiums in Germany?
Cordoba: In Granada the stadium was always full, but that was unusual in Spain. In Germany, on the other hand, all the stadiums are always full to capacity. It’s great. The atmosphere here is always fantastic.
bundesliga.com: What is the most surprising thing about Germany, culturally speaking?
Cordoba: The recycling system (laughs)! I still don’t understand it.
Cordoba was speaking to Tobias Schächter