What does it mean to win the Best player award?
I thought I would come second again after emerging runner-up to Messi at the Ballon d’or. But I am proud that I could retain this award. It means my hard work and success are being recognised. However, I am nothing without my team at Bayern. They always have my back and have a great influence on me. This award belongs to the whole Bayern team.
Did it hurt that you didn’t win the 2021 Ballon d’Or?
Every award is appealing but the important thing is when the recognition comes from your peers – the players and the coaches – because they know what it means to perform at the top level consistently. So the FIFA award is worth more to me.
Do you find it strange that Messi did not vote for you for the FIFA award even after saying that you deserve the Ballon d’Or?
Those were very nice and kind words which Messi used for me at the Ballon d’Or awards. But you have to ask him why he didn’t vote for me. I think I didn’t do anything wrong which could make him mad at me, except sporting things. On the personal side, everything is okay. It was his decision and I respect it and I don’t have any negative feelings about it.
Can you explain your rationale behind voting for Jorginho at first spot, Messi second and Ronaldo third?
Jorginho won the Champions League and scored important goals for Chelsea. He was also a crucial member of the Italian national team which won the Euros. As for Messi and Ronaldo, they are greats of the game. Ronaldo also shows the best quality he has and always scores goals wherever he goes and he showed it when he joined Manchester United.
You will turn 34 this year but you are showing no signs of slowing down. Have you set yourself a time limit when it could all be over?
It all depends on my body. I understand what my fitness levels are and how much my body can endure. But I have been experiencing and learning about my body every day. I still feel fit. These days, I undergo a few specific training routines which help push my body to the limit. At this stage, I can say I am ready to go for another two years.
Do you want to extend your contract with Bayern Munich which expires next year?
It is still some time away but my on-pitch performance shows how hard I fight for this club. Bayern have been one of the best clubs in Europe and we have proven our quality by winning a lot of titles. I have been injured here and there and I couldn’t participate in the Champions League second leg tie against PSG last season and it hurt a lot. But whenever I donned the Bayern jersey, I have always given my best. My objective is to perform on the pitch and I don’t want to think about anything else at the moment.
There are speculations about Erling Haaland joining Bayern. Do talks about a young attacker joining the club disturb you?
I am not stressed about it. I understand how football has evolved and the business side of it. I am aware of the club’s position and my position at the club. So it’s easy to accept the situation and take it on. I know I have to remain focused on my job and keep improving to retain my place.