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Exclusive: Mario Gomez

‘It’s been a roller-coaster ride so far’

Even before turning out in a red jersey, Mario Gomez was a Bayern record breaker. Germany’s most successful club had never paid as much for a player as when they signed the 24-year-old from Stuttgart. The investment is starting to pay off: Gomez is his new club’s top scorer so far this term with 11 goals, and six of his seven Bundesliga strikes have been FCB’s first of the game in question.

However, it has not all been plain sailing for Gomez, especially in a spell when Louis van Gaal banished him to the subs’ bench. met the Germany international for a lengthy interview, exploring his first six months in Munich. In part one, Gomez reviews events and progress on the field. In the second part, which we publish early next week, Mario explains why he has adapted so well personally to life in Munich.

Interview: Mario Gomez, part 1 Mario, it says this on your homepage: a successful weekend for me is a win for Bayern and three points for my friends. Did SV Unlingen win last weekend?
Mario Gomez: “All my closest friends play for a district league team. I’ve known most of them since I’ve been able to think. I always look out for their results. They’re not doing so well at the moment, I think they’ve lost six of their last eight matches, but they’re still third in the table.“ You must be upbeat after the 4-1 win in Turin and the 5-1 victory in Bochum.
Gomez: “Of course. We had a perfect week.“ You’re not just winning, you’re playing good football and scoring plenty of goals. Why has that taken almost the first half of the campaign?
Gomez: “We had a number of problems at the start of the season. A new coach, a new team, new players, a new system, new training methods – everyone had to get used to that and acclimatise. That took longer than even the coach thought it would, because there was no consistency to our results. And winning matches is the most important thing at Bayern. But that’s what we’ve started doing recently. Each of us is more confident with every win, and then you start winning more convincingly, the individual class starts to count for more.“ Many observers felt the display in Turin was Bayern’s best European showing in many a long year.
Gomez: “We knew we were in good shape, and never feared for a minute we’d end up being knocked out. We all knew we’d win the match. When we went a goal down, I briefly thought: shit. But then we all thought: OK, so we have to score twice. From the moment we set off on the trip, you sensed everyone thinking we’d go through.“ How good would it be to go top of the league for Christmas?
Gomez: “It would be nice, but it’s basically not that important. What matters is to be top after 34 games. Beating Hertha is our priority.“ That should be easy on paper – they’re bottom of the league.
Gomez: “The team was together in front of the TV last week, watching Leverkusen really struggle against Hertha – and now Hertha are through in the Europa League too. We could easily need to be patient, but if we’re at least as determined and focused as them, we’ll win the game.“ You and Philipp Lahm are the only players to appear in every match. How would you sum up your time at Bayern so far?
Gomez: “I’d call it a roller-coaster ride. I came to Munich full of confidence, with plenty of energy, and really looking forward to it, in a way I don’t think I’d had in my career before. I settled at the club nice and quickly, and my private life in Munich was great from the start. And then we didn’t get the results at the start of the season and I was dropped, even though I was scoring. It was hard to understand.“ What was Van Gaal’s reason for the decision?
Gomez: “He said I wasn’t striking up a partnership with my team-mates. I was out of the team, and obviously I started asking myself questions, I was nervous. It wasn’t easy. But I said to myself: You’ll have to fight till you drop in training and convince the coach you’re the man. Life normally rewards you for hard work. Before we played Leverkusen, Van Gaal told me I’d be playing the next few games. That was a real boost, and since then, life at Bayern’s been what I imagined it would be: we’re winning and I’m making a contribution.“