An interview with Per Nilsson

The penultimate weekend of Bundesliga action sees 1899 Hoffenheim travel to face a 1. FC Nürnberg side that includes Per Nilsson. caught up with the former Hoffenheim captain to talk about the upcoming encounter.

Pelle, on Saturday you'll be facing your former employers. What's the anticipation for you like leading up to the match?

There's a lot of anticipation. Not just about the match, but more about seeing old friends with whom I enjoyed a lot of success (laughs).

Are you still in contact with some of your ex-teammates?

Yes, even though it's difficult to keep in contact while the season's still going on. In the build-up to this match I got the opportunity to see a few 1899 faces when we met up in Heidelberg. In the meantime though we communicate via Facebook or with an old-fashioned telephone call. At the end of the season we've all said we'd like to get together again somewhere halfway between Heidelberg and Nürnberg.

You missed out on play against Hoffenheim earlier this season because of injury.

Indeed. I had to sit in the stands and be a supporter because of a troublesome knee injury. It was really difficult for me, especially as after that match we discovered that the injury was worse than first thought and that I'd be out for an extended period of time.

That particular injury was a big setback for you after a promising start to the season. Are you still happy with how your first season in Nürnberg has gone?

The injury was of course disappointing and came at a really inconvenient point in time. I was a regular in the first team before that and had started and finished every single match. While I was recovering the team continued to go from strength to strength, which made it difficult for me to slot back in once I had returned. However, it's completely understandable that the manager didn't want to make too many changes to a successful formula. Next season will present me with another opportunity to make an impact in Nürnberg, but overall I'm happy with my first season at the club.

At Hoffenheim you were a leading figure in the team and an important person to have around for the youngsters coming through the ranks. How would you describe your current role with your new team?

I fulfill a similar role with Nürnberg and am always looking to give advice and act as a role model for the younger players. I also stress the importance of team spirit as it enables players to develop the skills beyond their current capabilities.

A successful season is coming to an end now for your team. You still have a chance of sneaking into the Europa League. Mainz 05 are currently five points clear of you, but what do you make of your chances?

We have to be realistic in situations like this. The chances of us making it into Europe are slim. Catching them isn't impossible, but it's not in our own hands and all we can do is hope that Mainz 05 slip up twice. You have to say though, that Mainz, like us, are having a phenomenal campaign and fully deserve to make it into Europe.

In the Bundesliga Hoffenheim and Nürnberg have met three times with two matches ending in a stalemate, while 1899 were victorious in the third. In the 2nd round of the DFB Pokal in 2009, you even scored the winning goal when we beat Nürnberg 1-0. What can the fans expect from this weekend's match?

It will definitely be a tight affair. It's difficult to assess Hoffenheim based on this season. They've proven that on a good day they can play well enough to beat champions Borussia Dortmund. Regardless of the league positions, I reckon that both teams will be playing at a similar level, as we both want to finish the campaign strongly. I just hope that I'm not on the scoresheet for Hoffenheim again on Saturday.


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