Playing against Ecuador in Boca Raton’s FAU Stadium on Wednesday and scoring twice in that match, Lukas Podolski has brought his tally of caps up to 109, with a total of 46 goals to his name.
Talking to DFB.de-writer Steffen Lüdeke, the Arsenal FC forward takes stock of the national team’s U.S. trip so far and offers words of praise for the newly called-up players.
Find the original interview on dfb.de
DFB.de: Lukas, you scored two goals against Ecuador, which means you’ve failed to hit a hattrick yet again – what’s the matter with you?
Lukas Podolski: Hey, I really tried, but it was not to be… Please give me another chance! (laughs)
DFB.de: In the Serbian national youth league, a certain Vuk Bakic scored after two seconds, the earliest goal in officially recorded football history. You needed nine seconds for the opening goal against Ecuador…
Podolski: Yes, because we needed a little while to find our feet (laughs.) There is room for improvement, definitely. But you always need new objectives to strive for.
DFB.de: Joking apart, your goal was the earliest goal ever scored by any German national team player – does this matter to you at all?
Podolski: It’s great. I’d be lying if I were to say that it doesn’t mean anything. I gladly accept the record but I won’t dwell on it. There were more important goals scored than that.
DFB.de: Conditions at the game were slightly unusual, with kick-off in the early afternoon and a not too sizeable crowd, to put it mildly… Would you say that scoring such an early goal sent a message?
Podolski: You’re right, conditions were different from what we know. We’re more used to evening kick-off times and to playing to packed audiences. And don’t forget the weather – there was a biblical downpour until an hour before the game. Therefore, it was all the more important to demonstrate that we were fully switched on from the word go. My own motivation was really high, also because I was kind of annoyed at the Ecuadoreans staying inside their dressing room. When I realised they wouldn’t come out to warm up on the pitch, I said to the boys: ‘Come on, let’s show them straight away that we mean business!’
DFB.de: Germany ruled supreme in the first half, but after the break, Ecuador got into their stride and put you under considerably more pressure. Was this on account of the heat?
Podolski: Well, it was incredibly warm. We’re just not used to playing football under such conditions. We had had a few training sessions at round about midday to prepare for this, but training and match load are two different kettles of fish. And let’s not forget the extreme humidity in Boca Raton.
DFB.de: A whole lot of new faces in the German squad – were you surprised how effortlessly the newcomers seemed to fit in?
Podolski: Absolutely. I can only pay huge compliments to all the newcomers who won their first cap yesterday. I can very well remember my own debut and how I jittery I felt at the time. They’re all what you call straight arrows, great guys to have around. I’m really glad for them and congratulate them on their first caps.
DFB.de: Some in Germany were rather sceptical about the usefulness of this trip. Do you think you’ve silenced those critics?
Podolski: What nagged me most was the lack of respect towards the players who had been called up, in particular the uncapped ones. It’s absolutely okay to be thrilled about two German teams competing in a Champions League final and all the rest of it, but from there to saying this squad lacks quality is going to far. I think we’ve proved that we do have that quality. Not everything was gold over 90 minutes, but we’ve demonstrated that even a team with lots of new faces can successfully implement the coach’s philosophy.
DFB.de: Sunday’s match against the USA will be the closing point of this tour; what are your expectations of the game?
Podolski: I’m sure that’ll be a great occasion, with an exciting match played to a capacity crowd at RFK Stadium. Obviously, the fact that Jürgen Klinsmann coaches the opposition makes it even more special. They say that temperatures in Washington are going to be extreme, but let’s not allow ourselves to be impressed. Now that we’ve won the first match, we also want to win the second one!
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