Germany’s Olympic silver medal-winning goalkeeper Timo Horn capped off an incredible season on Saturday, with the 2-0 win over Mainz booking the Billy Goats place in European competition for the first time in 25 years.
With Hertha Berlin and Freiburg both losing, Peter Stöger’s men finished the season in fifth, meaning a guaranteed place in the group stages of the Europa League next term.
bundesliga.com caught up with the effusive shot-stopper post-match…
Question: Timo Horn, when the game was finished, there was no stopping the Cologne fans. What did you make of their celebrations?
Timo Horn: It was pure joy after qualifying for Europe for the first time in 25 years. Everyone is proud of the whole team. It's almost like a fairy tale. We got promoted three years ago and have improved year upon year. This is the perfect conclusion.
Watch: Cologne players give coach Peter Stöger a beer shower!
Question: What was going through your mind when Yuya Osako's shot fizzed into the Mainz net to make it 2-0?
Horn: It was sheer deliverance. Every fan knew then that we couldn’t be denied victory. 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline. Mainz refused to give up without a fight but we held them off. But we had the desire. We wanted to win the game. That other results would go our way was not to be expected. Everything fell into place for us, and we finally seized our chance, on the final day of the season! This is indescribable. We need a week to celebrate!
Question: Did you have an eye on the other results?
Horn: As a goalkeeper, you always have a little time, so I followed it, of course. When Bayer Leverkusen were leading Hertha Berlin 4-0 we knew that we could make it. I tried to push the team on, and defensively we did everything to keep a clean sheet, and we pulled it off. I’m incredibly proud of the guys. The whole season has been great and this was the icing on the cake.
Question: Were you surprise by the Leverkusen result?
Horn: I wasn’t really expecting them to help us! But they did play very well against us last week and they showed the same form against Hertha. A 6-2 win in Berlin is not to be taken for granted. Of course I knew that Bayern Munich wanted to win their final game at home. Now it’s hard to put qualifying automatically for Europe into words.
Vote: Is Timo Horn in your team of the season?
Question: How do you feel?
Horn: There are so many emotions. We've been working hard for such a long time. Our team spirit has helped us. No player has done it on his own – even if Anthony Modeste has been incredibly important this season. Everyone has contributed. We’ve played brilliantly in the last five games. Now we have to keep our heads down and keep progressing – in a few days at least!
Question: What does qualifying for the Europa League mean to you personally?
Horn: We’re really looking forward to these games. Most of the current squad weren’t even born the last time Cologne played in Europe. We just know it from stories from our fathers and grandfathers. This is sensational. Being part of this group is what prompted me to extend my contract. After all our ups and downs this feeling is beyond words.
Horn was speaking to Tobias Gonscherowski