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Interview

Ivan Perišić: 30 isn't old at all!

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Ivan Perišić left Croatia to see the world at the age of 17. The 30-year-old has played in four leagues since then. In 2018 he and his Croatian team-mates advanced to the World Cup final. People tend to underestimate him, but that only spurs him on. He just has a score to settle in the Champions League, which is why he joined FC Bayern. "I'm ready," Perišić told us in an interview.

Ivan Perišić interviewed

You left home and went to France at the age of 17. FC Bayern is the seventh club in your pro career. Do you still struggle to get along in a new culture?

It's never easy. It's important to me that my wife and my two kids are with me, even though a switch is easier without kids, because you can live in hotels for longer. My son has so much energy now. I'm glad we quickly found a house.

Are you familiar with the German word Wandervogel?

No, but I know what it means. In the past I switched clubs every two or three years. The four years at Inter Milan are my record. I just didn't like to stay at a club for more than three or four years. It's always been my goal to get to know many countries, learn many languages and play in many leagues. Today I speak four languages – that's not so bad, is it?

Players usually don't leave FC Bayern so quickly. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently said he can imagine a longer period in your case.

I too think that's possible. Everything's positive in Munich so far, both in private and in terms of football. I have a one-year loan contract plus option to purchase. I'm just taking it step by step, from day to day. Let's see.

You played for Dortmund and Wolfsburg before joining Milan. How has the Bundesliga changed over the last four years?

I think the level in the Bundesliga is even higher now than four yours ago. Many good players are here, the tempo is even higher now, and the stadiums are always full anyway.

You once said people often underestimated you. Is it your motivation to prove your qualities?

Unfortunately, I've never had very good ties to the media. I just don't like to see my face in the newspaper every day, that's not my cup of tea, but a footballer who thinks like me will never muster much support. When I joined Bayern, people said, he's already 30, he can't be so fresh any more. But I don't care. The pitch is the only place where I give answers. That's the only place where it counts.

Ivan Perišić
"If you want to win something in football you have to run. It's not possible without that."

It isn't common for 30-year-old players to join FC Bayern.

Every team needs experienced players, young players and a few in between. We at Bayern have this blend. Besides, 30 isn't old at all! I'm feeling good. My plan is to play for another seven or eight years. I've never had major injury problems (touches wood). I hope it'll go on like that.

There are pictures of you with US Open winner Marin Cilic at a tennis tournament, pictures of you at an international beach volleyball event: have you been an all-rounder since childhood?

My family have always played a lot of sport. Football, handball, basketball – and one day I came home and said: I'm going to continue with football. And I think that wasn't the worst decision. We played on the street, on the beach, everywhere. I think it was the best time of my life. Today's kids have lost that. They prefer sitting at home, playing on their tablets. You don't see so many kids outside any longer. I don't think that's good.

You ran a total of 72.5 kilometers at the World Cup last year, more than any other player.

(Smiling) If you want to win something in football you have to run. It's not possible without that. But now I know better where to run. I improved during my time in Italy.

Your mother dreamed of a final between Croatia and France before the World Cup. Does she dream of a Champions League final involving FC Bayern now?
(Laughing) I wouldn't mind. It would be a dream to go far in the Champions League. I've participated in two World Cups and one European championship, but I have yet to take that step in the Champions League. I scored against Arsenal when I made my debut with Dortmund in 2011, but I've never advanced to the knockout stages. More is possible with FC Bayern, absolutely. I'm ready.

After Dortmund and Wolfsburg, FC Bayern is your third club in Germany. Is the Bundesliga your favourite league?

I watched all the big leagues on TV as a young boy, including the Bundesliga. It was my dream to play in these leagues one day. The Bundesliga was my first one, I made the first big step in my career here. Now I want to win as many titles as possible with Bayern.

Has Germany become something like your home?

Germany has a special place in my heart. My son was born in Dortmund, my daughter in Wolfsburg. Both are German. Maybe I'll have a third child in Munich. (laughing)

You have a tattoo of the church in your home town Omiš on your right calf. Bruges and the 2018 World Cup are there too. Are you planning on adding a Munich motif?

Omiš is my town, my home. In addition, I have my whole footballing career tattooed. Sometimes a motif of the city, sometimes one of the club. I'm still looking for something for my time in Munich.

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