Having ended a lengthy goal drought by scoring the winner for 1. FC Köln against Borussia Dortmund just before the winter break, French striker Anthony Modeste is eagerly counting down the days until the Bundesliga action resumes.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 27-year-old reflects on his dip in form, why he is happy Köln trained at home during the break and what his objectives are for the rest of the season.
bundesliga.com: Anthony Modeste, has the winter break done you good?
Modeste: I enjoyed it, although one week off would have been enough for me. After spending a week in Monaco with my family I travelled back to Cologne, where I kept myself fit with a personal trainer. I was determined to stay in shape.
bundesliga.com: How are preparations for the Rückrunde going?
Modeste: We’re doing well and are ambitious - I can feel that in every training session. We’re ready for the action to start again.
bundesliga.com: Alongside FC Ingolstadt 04, Köln are the only Bundesliga team that did not head to a training camp abroad during the winter break. What do you make of that?
Modeste: It’s a good thing. You only need to look at the difficult weather conditions some teams had, while here it was pleasant most of the time. We can prepare well at home and that allows us to stay with our families too. When you fly to a training camp abroad you lose two days. I think we did everything right.
bundesliga.com: What aims do you have going into the Rückrunde?
Modeste: Our primary aim is to reach the 40-point mark in order to ensure we avoid relegation. We still need 16 more points to achieve that. Once we’re there then we can look at aiming higher. It would be great to finish in the top half of the table, but we shouldn’t forget that we have a very young team. Accordingly, it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves and to be careful when it comes to setting objectives. One thing is certain: we have a lot of potential in our team and we want to exploit that.
bundesliga.com: At the end of the Hinrunde your form slumped and you were even on the bench for the Dortmund match. Do you still feel you have the trust of coach Peter Stöger?
Modeste: Absolutely, I always feel that. I know a lot of other coaches would have put me on the bench much sooner, but he was always there for me. When he brought me on against Dortmund I was determined to repay his faith in me. I managed to do that by scoring the winner.
bundesliga.com: Köln’s first game in the second half of the season is a home tie against VfB Stuttgart.
Modeste: In the Rückrunde we’re really going to try to be better at home than we were in the Hinrunde, where our record wasn’t up to scratch. We want to pick up more wins for our fans and give them more to cheer about. Köln have outstanding supporters. We showed what we’re capable of in our last game, against Borussia Dortmund, and you could see the atmosphere that created. We’ve played well in derbies and in matches against big teams, and earned a lot of points. Now what we’re striving for is to pick up more points against sides from our section of the table. We want to play well right away against Stuttgart and get off to a positive start with a win.
bundesliga.com: Is it true that you announced you would score a couple of hours before the BVB game kicked off on Twitter?
"Thank you for your messages and support. The goals will come again."
Modeste: I’ve received a great deal of support from Köln fans on Twitter and that’s done me a lot of good. I wanted to thank them for that in my own way. I was convinced I’d get the reward for all my hard work in training, and I had a feeling it would happen against BVB. And I was right (laughs).
Anthony Modeste was speaking to Alexis Menuge