Corinthians’ Peruvian front man Paolo Guerrero has every reason to be pleased with life right now. Shrugging off the lingering effects of a knee injury that almost ruled him out of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2012, the Timão talisman scored the goal that took the Brazilians into the final and then struck another in Sunday’s showpiece to win them the trophy for a second time.
Guerrero’s powerful, close-range header brought European champions Chelsea to their knees and gave South American football its first world title in six years.
FIFA.com caught up with the celebrating matchwinner for an interview in which he discussed his vital second-half strike and his injury scare, before sending a message to the people of Peru.
FIFA.com: Paolo, congratulations. Has the fact that you’re world champions sunk in yet?
Paolo Guerrero: I’m getting used to it, yes. I’m very happy. I’m thrilled. We’ve worked very hard to win this title and we made a huge effort and a big sacrifice. The time has come now to celebrate and that’s just what we need.
Talk us through the goal. Do you remember it clearly or has it gone a bit hazy with all the excitement?
To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember the move that led up to it. I think it came from the left. Danilo got on the ball and got a shot off but they charged it down, didn’t they? What I remember is the ball hanging there in front of me, just waiting for me to nod it over the line.
What was going through your mind at that moment?
You need to keep as cool as possible in a situation like that. There’s barely any time to think. You just have to put it away any which way you can. I think it ended up going in off the crossbar. Yes, you have to keep a clear head and make the right decision in a matter of seconds. I had no option but to get my head on it, and luckily it went in.
We’ve worked very hard to win this title and we made a huge effort and a big sacrifice. The time has come now to celebrate and that’s just what we need.
It was said in the build-up to the final that Corinthians were a defensive side. Did you hear anyone saying that and did it motivate you?
Well I can only speak for myself and the fact is I didn’t hear anything like that. I think every coach has their particular way of doing things and their own way of stopping the opposition. Defensive or not, we won the title, and that’s all that matters.
Did you know that it had been six years since a South American side won this title?
Of course! The Professor (Corinthians coach Tite) mentioned that a lot in his team talks and it was an extra motivation for us. We are happy and proud to have won this tournament for South America. You should have seen the dressing room: everyone was so delighted, celebrating with the trophies. I won one myself (the adidas Bronze Ball) and that’s made me even happier.
Did you think you were going to miss the tournament because of your knee problems?
I can tell you now that I was very scared when I picked up the injury. Thank God I was able to recover in time and be fit for both games. I didn’t want to miss them for anything in the world.
How is your knee now? You were hobbling as you left the pitch.
It’s a bit sore but I’m not worried about that. I can’t put into words how it feels to win a trophy like this. Whatever injury I’ve got, it doesn’t matter. It was worth it. For me the most important thing is that we’re the world champions. The rest can wait.
One last question. You were celebrating with the Peruvian flag afterwards. Can you picture how they’re celebrating this win?
I really care about Peru, my country, and it’s always with me. I’d like to dedicate this title to them as well, to all the people of Peru.