Claudio Pizarro has six Bundesligas and a Champions League crown from a golden career but Saturday's goal for Werder Bremen in Berlin's Olympic Stadium added a new personal record to his tally. No player older than Pizzaro's 40 years and 136 days has scored in the Bundesliga and the veteran Peruvian is rightly proud of his mark. "I hope it sticks," the striker said of the 1-1 equalizer six minutes into injury-time against Hertha Berlin.
It was Pizarro's 195th in the league and the 277th competitive goal of his career, if by no means the most beautiful. "I've never scored a goal like that in my career," he said.
Hertha were on course for a deserved, if narrow, victory, before Pizarro lined up a free kick on the edge of the box deep into added time. "We have decided to shoot the ball under the wall because they usually jump," Pizarro explained. "It worked."
The Berlin wall, however, cooperated by breaking spectacularly and even then the ball was helped into the net by not one but two minor deflections. No matter. They all count. "That wasn't discussed," coach Florian Kohlfeldt said of the conversation between Pizarro and team-mate Max Kruse over who should take the kick. But fundamentally there is "a good feeling when Claudio has the ball 18 metres in front of the goal." Hertha coach Pal Dardai lamented "massive ill fortune" with the goal while Pizarro smiled at his "bit of experience and fox cunning" paying dividend.
Pizarro made his Bundesliga debut for Bremen back in August 1999 and is now with Werder again after various spells with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Cologne. For perspective of his longevity, Borussia Dortmund's flying winger Jadon Sancho was not even born the first time Pizarro lined up in green and white. Nowadays Pizarro is rarely considered as a starter but for "certain moments" he is "still an unbelievable player," Kohlfeldt said.
The latest success sparked questions about ‘the secret' of being able to perform to such a level when many others have retired or at least moved down the leagues. Train "quite normally," watch the diet and
try "to always be happy," was Pizarro's simple answer to seemingly discovering the fountain of youth. "I have never expected in life that I would have such a record," he said. "But I still have desire to play football and enjoy every moment, and of course also the goals."
If he will attempt to build on his record next season remains to be seen. "My head says ‘of course'. But I have to wait each week to see what my body say," the forward noted. A final call will only be made at the end of the season.
One record, however, does seem to be slipping from his grasp. Pizarro is currently the top scoring non-German in Bundesliga history but Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has 193. Perhaps Pizarro may have to keep going after all.
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