After four seasons and more than 100 goals for Bayern Munich, Roy Makaay made a homecoming last summer, signing a three-year contract with Feyenoord.
The 32-year-old Dutch forward immediately hit his stride for the Rotterdam club, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and looking for a return to the elite, both domestically and in Europe. Makaay won the EMS Golden Shoe in 2003 after scoring 29 goals for Deportivo La Coruna, and the international striker is rolling back the years to prove that he is still as hungry as ever.
The day after a 3-1 win over FC Twente, FIFA.com caught up with Makaay in the press room at Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium, and found him just as direct off the field as he is on it.
FIFA.com: Roy, you returned to the Netherlands at the age of 32 and
after a ten-year absence. Had you been planning this homecoming for
Roy Makaay: No, not at all! I was still under contract for another year at Bayern and I could have stayed there, but in football, circumstances sometimes mean that you have to take a decision. The club brought in two excellent strikers and I've been around long enough to know what that means. These two were always going to play, and I didn't want to sit on the bench for a year, picking up a salary for not playing, so I wanted a move. I always said that if I left Bayern it would be to go and play in Spain or the Netherlands. Back home I'd had some offers and the one from Feyenoord was the best. I wanted to get it sorted out as soon as possible and I didn't have the patience to wait for a solid offer from La Liga, where I know that clubs tend to take their time when they're looking to recruit.
Do you regret leaving Bayern when you see how attacking
they are playing, particularly with Ribery calling the
No, not at all. As I said, it was my choice to leave and I'm happy where I am. When you sign Ribery you know what you're getting, and the team lived up to the hype at the start of the season. They then came in for a little bit of criticism before the winter break and Werder Bremen also crept up on them. Great things are expected of this team after the signings they made before the start of the season and it will be interesting to see how things pan out at the end of the season.
So you left Bayern on friendly terms with the board and the
Yes, absolutely. The club invited me back before Mehmet Scholl's testimonial so that I could say goodbye to the fans. It was a very emotional moment, the supporters gave me a real send-off and I received a number of gifts.
Looking back on your four years at Munich, you started off with two excellent seasons followed by
two less impressive ones, in terms of goals at least.
I scored over 110 goals for Bayern (129 to be precise), and only Gerd Muller has ever done better than that. When a legend like that is the only person ahead of you in the statistics, that really means something. The last two years, particularly last season, were less outstanding but I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I still played my part and we won the league in 2006. I had four great seasons at Munich.
You have a reputation for being impervious to criticism,
and you certainly had your fair share in Germany last year. Is it
true that nothing affects you?
I read the newspapers but quite honestly I don't pay any attention to any criticism that's in the media. If the guy doesn't like you for reasons that have nothing to do with sport or if he's friends with another player who's vying for your place, he won't be objective. The only judgements I listen to are what my team-mates, coaches and staff have to say.
Did you feel any extra pressure from the fact that your 20
million euro fee was the biggest transfer in the history of
No. It was the same when I joined Deportivo from Tenerife - I was one of the two biggest signings in the club's history. You know, whether it's something you can affect or if it's totally out of your hands, all you can do is give it your best out on the pitch without giving it any further thought. Ribery is the one who has taken over this mantle at Bayern, but it's not something he asked for any more than I did.
Feyenoord have spent a lot of money to celebrate their
anniversary, signing you and Van Bronckhorst. Do you feel that they
are counting on you and that this is a very important season for
Feyenoord wanted to put together a good team for their fans to celebrate the 100th anniversary and it's true that they invested a fair bit of money in it, particularly since things didn't go too well last season. At the moment, I think that the team is doing well when you consider the number of new players we have, even if we are six points behind the leaders. Personally I'm happy with my season so far, scoring 12 goals in the league, and I don't feel under any particular pressure. I'm here to play my football and do what I do best.
You're still scoring regularly at 32. Is your style of
play suited to longevity?
I don't think that my style of play has any influence in that respect. I've been lucky enough never to be seriously injured and I've looked after my body. I'm not as strong as I used to be so I have to rest up more. I think that might explain why I'm playing well aged 32, rather than the way I play.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar told us a few months ago that it was no
big deal for an established player to score between 25-30 goals in
the Dutch championship. Do you have any targets for this
No, that's something that I've never done. You don't judge how good a season was purely on the number of goals. I'll draw my own conclusions at the end of the season based on a number of different aspects. A forward is reliant on the team's performances and on his team-mates, so when I sign for a new club, I have a good look at the players who will be alongside me and how well we suit each other.
Is this why you have never made a bad career
That's right. But I go a lot by feeling. I know what I want but I still work on instinct and desire.
You have had an illustrious career to date - what has been
It's difficult to choose just one. I have no real regrets about my career. If I had to pick out two or three highlights then first of all I would say the title I won with Deportivo in 2000. It was the first in the club's history and that really was something special, more that the first title I won with Bayern, as they are more used to winning the league. And then the Golden Shoe in 2003 was a very special individual honour.
Who is the best player you have played alongside?
That's another tough question. You're surrounded by top players every year at Bayern, but if I was pushed I'd say... Juan Carlos Valeron at La Coruna. He was brilliant, a really great player.