Claudio Pizarro: Bayern was my club even as a kid
A Peruvian can't be more Bavarian than Claudio Pizarro. How Schafkopf helped him integrate and why his horses are called "Müller" and "Oktoberfest" - the new FC Bayern ambassador tells all in our interview. The full version can be found (in German) in the members' magazine "51".
Claudio, the prodigal son returns...
(laughs) "I am very happy to be back in Munich and with FC Bayern. I always thought that I'd come back sometime. FC Bayern is always referred to as a family, and that's really how it feels. I fell in love with the club and the city from day one."
How much Bavarian is in you now?
"(laughs) Oh, a lot, a lot. For example, I miss Oktoberfest very much - I've always loved it. And when I arrived in Munich, I quickly tried to learn [typically Bavarian card game] Schafkopf. I thought this was the best way to integrate quickly. And it was - although it was a tough and costly learning process at the beginning (laughs). Somehow, we all became obsessed with Schafkopf."
When you think of your childhood and youth in Lima: What drove you on, how did you become who you are today?
"I've always loved football. Always have done. At first, I played in a small club that was part of the navy - my father was in the navy. He did a lot of sport and always motivated me: I got better and better at football and tennis, and when I was 14 or 15, I had to choose one of the two sports due to lack of time. My heart said football - I think it was the right decision."
What were you like as a little boy - were you a real fan and of which club?
"That's interesting: When I was little, we saw a lot of the German and Italian leagues on television in Peru. That's why FC Bayern was my club as a child. I loved Bayern, I always watched them on TV at home. I also liked Inter Milan, they were my two favourites. I didn't have any jerseys, unfortunately. That didn't exist back then, it was out of reach in Peru. It's different today."
How is FC Bayern seen in your home country and in Latin America?
"FC Bayern has a long tradition in Peru - as I said, you could see it when I was a child. When I played in Munich, the whole country was watching, and the club is still very popular today. The whole Bundesliga is highly valued. The treble was obviously another important signal that FC Bayern is a big club. I'm sure this success will make it even more popular."
Which Bayern players are the most popular?
"They're all valued, but Thomas Müller is a special guy who is popular all over the world. Manuel Neuer fascinates every football fan, as does Robert Lewandowski, and Alphonso Davies storms into the hearts in Peru too. Bastian Schweinsteiger used to be very popular. I think if you're world class and you're also a good guy, you win hearts everywhere."
You have a lot of racehorses in Peru - is it true your most successful one is called "Müller"?
"Yes, but I sold it - because it was so successful, there were so many interested parties. It came from Argentina and, funnily enough, it also won the treble of our three most important races at home. I like to give my horses German names because I like the language so much. Incidentally, I had this horse before I played with Thomas - it got its name from the great Gerd Müller. I've also had horses with the names "El Kaiser", "Uli Hoeneß", "Don Jupp", but also "Teamgeist" and "Merkel" - and "Oktoberfest". The people in Peru are happy when they hear such names. They ask what it means, they're always very interested."
Have you ever worn traditional costume in Peru, to the carnival?
"Not yet. But there's a small Oktoberfest in Peru every year, and I would like to go there sometime in traditional dress. So far, I've always been in Munich at that time. Let's see."
Watch Claudio's efforts in the Bayern Challenge here!👇