SC Freiburg have enjoyed their best ever start to a Bundesliga campaign this season having amassed twelve points from their opening seven games. The Breisgauer's current ranking of fifth, ahead of established heavyweights such as Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Schalke, is testament to the hard work of coach Robin Dutt and his squad.
Arguably the main driving force behind the south-west Germans' success this term has been striker Papiss Demba Cisse. The Senegalese frontman has netted seven times in as many games and currently sits proudly atop the goalscoring charts.
"The good performances have given them confidence, mentally they're very strong," said coach Dutt of his charges. This applies in particular to six-time international Cisse, who since his move in the winter transfer window has become an irreplaceable part of the team.
"I know my own strengths and qualities, but at the end of the day it comes down to working hard every day. I try to keep myself in peak condition and work on my game all the time," said the 25-year-old at the beginning of October. Even in the second half of last season, the 6'0" front-man proved his goalscoring prowess, scoring six times in 16 appearances.
Since then he has racked up an impressive 13 strikes in 23 matches. "I always tell myself before every game that I'm guaranteed to get one or two chances. I have to concentrate on those. I repeat to myself: 'I have to put it in, I have to put it in'."
From Casamas to Dakar
The gifted goalgetter was born on 3 June 1985 in the town of Casamas in southern Senegal. "I started playing football on the streets. In our area they would organise little tournaments. I used to play out wide but they moved me up front fairly quickly," stated the attacker, who rates fellow Africans Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o as the world's greatest forwards.
Cisse first moved to Europe with French side FC Metz aged 20, but even back then his aim was the Bundesliga. "I wanted to play in Germany at all costs." His wish would eventually come true as loan spells at AS Cherbourg and LB Chateauroux were followed by a €1.5m move to Freiburg in January 2010, and since then the Senegalese striker's market value has skyrocketed.
Despite his recent success, the industrious marksman is refusing to get carried away. "It's not all about being the hero. I just do my job, just like the defenders, who can't let any goals in, and the midfielders, who play all the passes. You can't be arrogant or think too much of yourself just because you're a striker. I simply do what my position demands."
Nonetheless Cisse revealed that he is very proud of his achievements so far this season. "Of course I'm delighted to be ahead of phenomenal strikers like Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy in the goalscoring charts."
Cisse is also becoming an ever more important player for the Senegalese national team. His hat-trick in last Sunday's 7-0 thumping of Mauritius helped The Lions of Teranga to the top of Group E in qualifying for the 2012 CAF African Cup of Nations with two games played.
In just a few weeks' time, Cisse will line up against one of his idols, Inter Milan striker Eto'o, as Senegal take on a Cameroon side which have beaten Mauritius 3-1 and drawn 1-1 with Congo DR so far in qualifying.
Cisse will no doubt be firing on all cylinders as he bids to extend his international tally, and if he carries on improving his game at the current rate, both SC Freiburg boss Dutt and Senegal coach Amara Traore could soon have one of the best African strikers in the world on their hands.