Interview with Josip Simunic

The 1899 Hoffenheim fans have had to wait quite a while for the return of their formidable centre-back Josip Simunic, but in the last match before the winter break he made his long awaited comeback. “Joe” also made a brief appearance in the match against Werder Bremen last weekend; however, in an interview with he himself admits he's not back to his fighting best just yet.

Joe, you've spent a fair amount of time in the stands recently due to injury. On a physical level, do you believe your back to where you were before the injury?

I'm not far off now. I've worked hard over the past few weeks and now all that's missing is the match practice that will get the last of the rustiness out of my system and back to 100% fitness.

The last few weeks have been marred by a lot of speculation that has caused a fair amount of turbulence around the club. Are you glad that the focus has returned to what happens on the pitch since last weekend?

Of course I am. For me it was all portrayed rather negatively, but this happens even at the best-run clubs. We lost a good player in the form of Luiz Gustavo, however, this team has enough quality to compensate for what we've lost. As for the theatrics involving Demba Ba, it presents some of the fringe players with the opportunity to step up and demonstrate what they can do for the team.

So it's safe to say you're focusing on the positives from the last few weeks.

Yes, because I have always thought and will continue to believe that this team has a huge amount of potential within the ranks. For us to be successful we ultimately need a few things to come together for us. The team spirit is good right now and we're having fun playing with each other. We have fantastic facilities in Zuzenhausen as well as a talented group of players, but we need a little more time to truly reach our potential. Obviously, there are always going to be setbacks just like the loss to Bremen, but that's the nature of the sport.

Marco Pezzaiuoli was installed as manager at the start of the New Year. What's your impression of the new manager since you've had a few weeks to work with him now?

He's got a wonderful philosophy and is trying to implement it in training, but with the utmost care so as not to upset our season too much. We all know how the business works, if we're short of a few points at the end of the season then questions start emerging thick and fast. I'm 100% convinced though, that 1899 Hoffenheim can be very successful under Marco Pezzaiuoli, as well as clinch the important points in the second half of the season.

Last question. Where do you think 1899's heading this season?

I reckon everything possible still. We can't focus on where we're going to end up when the season's over, in stead we've got to take it match-by-match whilst collecting as many points as possible. It starts on Sunday against St. Pauli and our aim is to make headlines with what happens on the pitch.


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