Miloš Pantović interview: What I learned at Bayern
Miloš Pantović played for FC Bayern for 11 years. Born in Munich, he went through all of the record champions' youth teams before moving to then second-division club VfL Bochum in the summer of 2018. The attacking player made the long-awaited return to the Bundesliga last season with the Revierklub, and on Saturday (15:30 CET) Pantović welcomes his boyhood club to Bochum. In an interview with fcbayern.com he talks about his time at FCB, his development into a Bundesliga player and a message from Thomas Müller.
The interview with Miloš Pantović
Hello Milos, on Saturday you're playing for VfL Bochum against your youth club FC Bayern. How excited are you?
Pantović: "Obviously I'm really excited. We fought hard to play in the Bundesliga and we look forward to every game. When you play against the biggest club in Germany and one of the biggest in Europe, against the best players in the world, it's even better."
You played for FCB for 11 years. What did you learn during this time?
"I look back on those 11 years with great pleasure. That time shaped me as a player a lot. Everything you experience in football, I experienced for the first time at Bayern - the first successes, failures, the first serious injuries - that's when you learn as a player to develop and grow. It was a great time. I had the privilege of meeting amazing people and working with some of the best players and coaches in the world."
Derby victories with the reserves, professional debut under Pep Guardiola, German champion 2016. Which moments do you remember particularly fondly?
"Definitely the Bundesliga debut in Bremen, because I didn't expect it at all. My coach at the time, Heiko Vogel, called me and said I shouldn't come to training, but fly with the first team. I thought it would be a good day out, to be close to a Bundesliga game. Then I actually made my debut. That was a moment I will never forget, and it also made me a champion, although of course I didn't have a huge part to play. Still, it's a good story."
In 2018 you joined Bochum. Looking back, how do you rate the move?
"At the time, Bochum were one of the big clubs in the second division. It was a clear goal of mine to get promoted to the Bundesliga. It was a tough road with ups and downs but I'm happy with the development I've made. I always gave it my all, even if I only played as a sub at times. When you work hard, success comes automatically. Now we're where we want to be and I really want to stay in the league, and keep the club where it belongs."
After you often played as a substitute in the promotion season, you are now a regular starter in the Bundesliga. To what extent does the style of play in the top flight suit you?
"Technical qualities are a little more important in the Bundesliga. I think I have a good basic technical education. My qualities maybe come into play a little more in the top division. I was trained for it at Bayern for 11 years, and now I've finally made it."
You have scored two sensational long-range goals this season, and Leroy Sané has impressed for Bayern with stunning free-kick goals, including in the first game of the season. Which of you two has the better feet?
"My right one might be better, but his left one is better (laughs). Jokes aside: I think Leroy is one of the best wingers in the world. I think that answers the question."
Are you still in contact with anyone at FC Bayern?
"I'm looking forward to seeing a few of the current staff. I remember Kathleen Krüger, the physios Florian Brandner and Helmut Erhard. My last contact was with Thomas Müller, who congratulated me after the cup game. Now we just have to win the cup (laughs)."
It was a one-sided 7-0 in the reverse fixture in Munich. What makes you optimistic that it will go better for you on Saturday?
"We're not the team we were at the beginning of the season. We didn't know exactly where we were then. We got the full treatment that you can get in Munich. If you're 3-0 or 4-0 down, your legs automatically get a little heavier, and the opposition players get really excited, everyone wants a hat-trick. It was a big moment where we grew together as a team. We've developed further, proved ourselves in the league and become more compact defensively, so I'm convinced it will be better this time."
You're very strong at home. What do Bayern Munich have to prepare for at the Ruhrstadion?
"I think it's getting loud again. The atmosphere here is unique, even though the stadium won't be full due to the current restrictions. It's going to be a good game. In the second half you get the added atmosphere of the floodlights. You can definitely say that our stadium is like a cauldron."
There was a memorable encounter between Bochum and FC Bayern in September 1976: