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Pizarro: Bayern always have to be top

His hair dripping after the training session, wearing flip-flops, and with a bottle of water in his hands, a worn-out but happy Claudio Pizarro talked to The 35-year-old has made a record number of Bundesliga appearances for a foreign player (363) and is the record non-German goalscorer (169). He is now in his eighth season at FC Bayern (2001-07 and since 2012). In our exclusive interview, Claudio talks about championships, the hunger for titles, Pep Guardiola and life in Germany as a Peruvian.

Interview: Claudio Pizarro Pizza, ahead of the busy run of fixtures over the next few weeks you all had another chance to sit down in peace and quiet last night and look back at last season’s five titles. What was it like?
Claudio Pizarro: Remembering the five titles and drinking to it was really great. 2013 was extraordinary. It was also something special seeing Jupp Heynckes again. I was really happy about it.

Last season’s titles are history but a new title is in sight: the German championship. Do you remember winning your first league title?
Of course, that was in 2003. The first championship is always something special and the same applies if you defend a title. But the 2003 win was a big thing for me: it was my first championship in Europe!

You sealed all your previous four championship titles away from home.
Really? I didn’t know that. Perhaps it will be the same this time round. Obviously, that’s bad luck for our fans. At the Allianz Arena we could celebrate with them straight away. But that’s the way it is. It’s more important for us to win the title first. And we can hold the big party with the fans later.

FCB could retain the title at Mainz on Saturday, although it might take a bit longer. Have you got a preferred date?
It doesn’t really matter when it happens. The important thing is to bag the title as soon as possible so we can concentrate on the other competitions. I’m convinced we can win the treble again. We have a great team and a great coach.

You signed for Bayern for the first time 13 years ago. What was it like for you?
I was still very young when I joined the Champions League holders. It wasn’t easy. I had a lot of respect for the other players. Now I’m one of the oldest. I’m trying to help the team stay at the top, because FC Bayern always have to be at the top.

Given your experience, you’re an elder statesman in the team. Do you see it the same way?
Yes. My experience helps me a lot. Of course, all players want to play in every match but over time I’ve come to understand that every player is very important. We can only achieve our targets by working together. So I try to stay fit and take my chances when they come.

Of the current squad you’ve played most often alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger. He joined the first team squad in 2002. How has he changed since then?
Bastian is almost 30 now, he’s got bags of experience and he’s one of the most important players at FC Bayern. He’s always hungry and he always wants to win everything. But it’s also important that he’s still a joker even if he’s a bit quieter than he used to be.

You’ve been a pro for a long time. What have you learned from Pep Guardiola?
I obviously knew about the titles he won at Barcelona and I heard a lot about him before he arrived. We knew we were getting a great coach. Now we’ve been working with him for nearly a year and we can see why he’s so great. His philosophy of football, his system, the way he analyses opponents and the way he prepares us for games. The focused way he works is unique.

Pep Guardiola says you were the most important man for him when he started in Munich. How did you help him?
It’s not easy moving to a different country. I know the German mentality now, I know the players and the club. I was able to help him with one or two things.

You arrived in Germany in 1999. What was the biggest change for you?
Punctuality (he laughs). Even if it wasn’t that difficult for me. My wife always says I’ve turned into a German. The order and organisation are incredible here. And cleanliness. When I came to Germany from Peru it was a big shock to me how clean it is here.

Your contract at FC Bayern runs out at the end of the season. Do you know what you’re going to do next?
I know I’m 35 years old. But I’m not in a hurry. I want to finish the season and win titles. Then I’ll see what happens in the summer. I definitely want to carry on playing football.

Have you had any ideas about what to do when you hang up your boots?
Definitely something to do with football. But I don’t know what yet. I can rule out becoming a coach though.

Will you go back to Peru with your family?
We’ll stay in Europe, that’s for certain. I’d like to stay in Munich but my family’s not sure. The winters here...