Mario Gómez interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine

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Updated: May 26, 2016

,,I want to go as high as possible”

For Mario Gómez, the battle for a place in the national team begins with a preparatory training camp in Ascona. In this interview the goalgetter speaks of his ambitions of holding 26 men in his arms and his hero status in Istanbul.

Mario-Gomez-GER

Faring well: Mario Gómez has regained his confidence in Turkey.

Head coach Joachim Löw has invited many young players for the European Championship training camp in Ascona. Can you feel the same tingle as those who are 20?

(Laughs) Not quite. In some ways I can place things better today than when I was 20. But of course I am and am also proud that I am here now.

Is it the pure pleasure or a little bit satisfaction?

No, not satisfaction. I don’t like that word. It was not like I was pissed at anyone. I had an extreme difficulty staying healthy just over two years, there were many injuries, even if it was sometimes just some minor things. For no one could help it, it was only I and my body. Therefore, it is now simply a joy, that everything is going well again.

In Istanbul, it went really well all year, Beşiktaş won the Championship, with 26 goals you became the top scorer. Was that the best Gomez, there ever was in the second half?

I’m not fond of superlatives. Although it is true that I’m feeling really great right now. You can certainly say: as much experience as now I have never had. That’s why I would put it as such: I do not know whether I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, but in any case I’m in  a very good one.

Why did it go so wonderful in Istanbul after the difficult period in Florence?

There are many factors. The most important thing – even though I am slowly can’t hear it anymore myself – is of course just my health and the rhythm. It was crucial for me to stay healthy this year. In addition, of course a coach, Senol Günes, who clearly knew what he had planned for me, who knows how he wants to approach the game and said: we have Mario available up front, so let us put him there. In the first two games, I was still on the bench, because I still wasn’t a hundred percent, but I’ve played every game since then. In conjunction with the fitness, it was this trust and the good relationship with the coach that brought me back on track.

Now you are the people’s hero and all fear your departure.

This is always the case. Especially if, like me, you’re only on loan. That I have not used the option for an extension a few weeks ago, doesn’t mean anything. This option was a constellation, which was wanted by the clubs Fiorentina and Besiktas, and accordingly, I’ve accepted it. But I have always said that my decision would come after the season was over.
Meister-Gomez

Champion in Istanbul: ,,At the time I thought: I want to have a new challenge, enjoy football, live in a great city, enjoy the culture”

And now?

Of course I still want to go as high as possible. Besiktas was a step into the unknown for me, but for exactly that it was the right decision – perhaps because from the  beginning it was clear to me that there is a similar claim here like there is in Germany with Bayern. This season has shown me how important it is to also have the feel-good and trust factor. I can definitely imagine to stay here. The talks will start now, then we will see what happens.

It is probably the last big choice of direction in your career.

No, here we are again with the superlatives. Every year is a big decision in the football world. Even for players who have contracts, Am I staying, am I going? There is constant fast paced movement in this world. I no longer make plans. I play only from season to season, because I have realized, for myself anyway, that long-term plans never go like you plan them in football.

You left mainly due to the arrival of  Pep Guardiola at Bayern three years ago. Was that a wrong decision in hindsight?

I then thought: I want to have a new challenge, enjoy football, live in a great city, enjoy the culture. And I had this thought, a club to go to, who wants to build something. I saw myself in Florence in this role, to go forward together with the Club, other players were also intended to come. Then it could have worked out, but then much turned out differently as it first looked, even if the last half year was not bad at all. It is important for me to say, because this is frequently not recognized. Today I know anyway: in 15 years, you play football, you have to subordinate everything else.

,,I don't make plans anymore, I play from season to season"

,,I don’t make plans anymore, I play from season to season”

It only has to fit sportively?

Exactly. But I don’t want to turn back and linger on the past whether it was the right or the wrong decision, I’m not that type of a person. Everything has it’s reason. I’ve had two great years in Florence, which have given me a lot as human, I’ve found new friends but also culturally. And I wouldn’t have had this mega year here now, if everything was super in Florence. I’m happy with how my career has been so far.

What does this mean for your future? You are with Besiktas in the Champions League, and you will want to play there also a proper role.

Sure. You don’t only want to take part, you want to be competitive in the competition. It is now up to the club. We have a top team, otherwise we would have not become the Champions, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray aren’t just any teams, they also have good international players in their ranks. But in the Europa League we got eliminated in the group stage, this is a fact, even though it was undeserved and harsh.

,,I want to go as high as possible”: Mario Gómez about holding 26 other men in his arms and his hero status in Istanbul

In April, the new stadium was finished, a unique location directly on the Bosphorus and certainly a great atmosphere. You also scored the first goal there. Is it an appealing idea, to also play great matches there?

Yes, and how. I’m really keen on it. I’ve been part of so many great games, semi-finals and finals at world and European Championships, or in the Champions League. And so maybe it might sound weird: but I have never seen an atmosphere like the two last home games here, it’s unbelievable. Although everyone told me, that were already here, but you have to experience it by yourself. It genuinely gave me goose bumps.

What role does the politcal situation in Turkey play?

Of course this always plays a role, there is no need to conceal this. I experience it differently here, as it is often portrayed in the media. I feel good, I feel safe. I hope that it will remain so at least, perhaps even better, in the sense that many issues no longer have to come to fluition, because they simply are no longer there. I also hope so for Turkey, because it is a great country.

The fans of Beşiktaş are considered very political, in the stadium opening, there were violent clashes with police. How do you see that?

Yes, our fans are very politically engaged, but they are liked in Turkey by many. Because they are not just football fans. I still think that one should not mix these issues. For the opening match in our new stadium there were 400.000 ticket requests, but in the end there is only room for about 40.000. It is obvious that most fans still wanted to be at this historic moment of opening of the new, long-awaited stadium here, it is clear.

Safety plays a big role in the EURO. Germany coach Löw said during his team nomination for France that the November 13th trauma of Paris, “worked up” within the team. With what feelings are you going in to the tournament?

In all these events, we would prefer that they didn’t happen. But it is clear that it can happen anywhere. Therefore, it is useless to talk about eventualities and possibly even restrict ourselves.

The goal of the German team is to win the title, what do you think to contribute to this?

Even if at the end it comes down to only two or three minutes – no matter. But I am far removed from saying: for me, it is only a success when I play. I already experienced that at the past World Cup, eventhough it did hurt on the one hand. After I had gotten over the initial shock and after my injury I just knew that Brazil is probably not for me, I only had a couple of weeks time to prepare. When the time finally came and the games kicked off, I have to say that I was really a fan of this team. I wasn’t only just excited as a fan, but also as an athlete. Each individual was important, but ultimately all who played for Germany have made it great. As well I can see that for the European Championships.

In the winter, you said you always needs a plan B or plan C. Would you say that Mario Gomez is perhaps part of plan A?

No, that was about something else: game systems and variability. I believe that the national team coach has done very well in recent years to utilize different systems. Like in the 4:1 against Italy, because we switched respectively from a five man backline in defense with a three man backline throughout the game, and it worked wonderfully. Bayern have changed their system several times this season. It is very important in modern football that one has not only a single plan, but many different ones. But when the team needs me – I’ll be there.

With all the new call ups to the training camp – a real striker is again not present. Who will be the next Mario Gómez, and when will he comes?

I’m much too far away to say: this or this or this player. But I believe that the German football school with it’s excellent youth development will again bring an exceptional striker, to the envy of the world. That will not last very long. Whether that will be a type like me, I do not know. A good striker has nothing to do with stature. Sergio Agüero is also a classic number 9, who is in stature and style of play completely different. One has since also moved away a bit from the idea that the classic striker always has to be 1.90 meters tall and must be massive. There are now many classic strikers who also have other skills.

On July 10th, the EURO-final day, it is your birthday. What do you think, how will you spend this day?

I hope with about 26 men in my arms.

Interview by Christian Kamp. (Frankfurter Allgemeine)

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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