Kramarić: ''Pressure raises me up''

Andrej Kramarić is TSG Hoffenheim's record goalscorer. The striker, who is close to hitting the 100-goal mark in the Bundesliga, has also proved decisive this season, as his vital goals have helped TSG move up from bottom-place and out of the relegation zone. In an interview for the May issue of SPIELFELD magazine, the two-time World Cup medal winner speaks in his usual frank manner about his experiences of fighting relegation, his preference for high-pressure situations and formative discussions with his father.

When Andrej Kramarić moved to Hoffenheim from Leicester City in January 2016, he never could have imagined the emotional relationship he would build up with the club from the Kraichgau. But the Croatian's heart now beats for TSG: ''I never would have dreamed of having such a long journey at one club. It's something really special and when I look back on my career, it's something that will always have a fond place in my memory. I will be very proud of it. There have been concrete talks with Bayern two or three times in recent years. But in the end I always chose to stay in Hoffenheim, and I'm happy here," says the 31-year-old in an interview with the club magazine SPIELFELD.

As was the case in his first season in a TSG shirt, he is again experiencing an emotional battle to avoid relegation. But this isn't the kind of situation that fazes the Croatian: "Pressure raises me up," says Kramarić - and goes into detail: "You have to be focused and give everything to win. Because of the experience I have, I was never afraid that we would be relegated. You can't have that either, because then you hide. You have to use the pressure to be even more focused. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself and worry when you're in a relegation battle." With his goals against Berlin, in Bremen and in Munich, the striker had a huge role to play in the team's recent run of four games without defeat. "I think everyone at TSG knows that they can rely on me," he says, going on to add: "In a tough situation like this, you have to - pardon me - show balls, and it was important for me to take on responsibility. I want to see a lot of teammates exuding confidence and strength.''

Part of his job as a leader is to strike a critical note in important situations. This is a quality he learned from his father: "Throughout my career - particularly in the past - he has always been very honest and direct. That always pushed me forward and helped me, even if he was perhaps a bit too strict at times. He gave criticism and always demanded discipline. If you want to become a competitive athlete, you need a certain amount of pressure. And I always felt that from my father. It's thanks to him that I now have such a strong character and a good mentality. I love situations in which you have to win, in which everything is at stake. Then everyone knows: you have to give everything, you can't hide if you want to avoid being crumbled on the ground in tears when the final whistle blows."

The big goal in the final spurt of the season is to once again achieve survival with TSG. The club, the staff and the players mean a lot to Kramarić: "The fact that so many players have been here for so long says everything about TSG Hoffenheim. That is no coincidence. We have been loyal to the club for so long because we feel very comfortable here, have grown together like a family and have become friends. As a player, that's almost the biggest compliment you can pay to TSG Hoffenheim. TSG is a top destination and a really great club."

The 120 pages of the May issue also feature a portrait of John Anthony Brooks and a look at the PreZero Arena's certification as the first Zero Waste Arena in the Bundesliga - all this and many more exciting insights into the world of TSG.

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