Miroslav Klose may have a trophy cabinet to be proud of, but he is nevertheless a man on a mission. In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, the 31-year-old striker revealed his hunger to seize more honours with Bayern Munich, surpass Ronaldo as the leading marksman in FIFA World Cup history, and help Germany compete for gold at South Africa 2010.
FIFA.com: Miroslav, you've been at Bayern Munich since summer 2007. What's life like in the Bavarian state capital?
Miroslav Klose: I have nothing but good things to say about life in Munich. It's a really beautiful city with lots to see and do, and you're close to the mountains. I feel totally at home. Your leisure time as a Bayern player is obviously limited, but if you do get the odd afternoon off, going out in the city with the family is a real pleasure.
How would you describe your job with Germany's most successful club?
Working for Bayern Munich is very enjoyable. You're under pressure the whole time of course, but that's to be expected and you have to deal with it. The working environment for the playing and coaching staff is outstanding. And I always marvel at the number of fans who turn out to watch daily training, especially when you find out how far some of them have travelled.
You spend your working day alongside superstars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and the rest of the squad. How do you get along with each other?
Relations in the dressing room are very friendly and fair. Everyone knows the club needs all its players. Everyone tries to perform and put himself forward in training, the battle for places in the team is fierce. There's an edge to every session, but that's the way it has to be. It forces you to keep on improving, which is so important. I have a friendly relationship with all the other players, but you have to differentiate between work and play. Just because we train together every day doesn't mean we have to go out together for dinner. We do it occasionally, but not every day.
How would you describe Louis van Gaal, your coach since the start of the season?
I've played for a number of very good coaches. Each one is different and has his own philosophy. The things that mark out Louis van Gaal is that he never beats about the bush, and he's a firm believer in authority. That's something you have to come to terms with as a player, although it's not a problem for me. He's fair and gives all his players a chance. And he's direct and loud on the practice ground too. He's wants everything to be right, in every respect.
What are your personal goals for this season, and for the rest of your playing career?
I want to win trophies, which is the target at Bayern every season. And it's not just me, it's the whole team. We all know we can only do it together.
At a big club like Bayern, there's an extensive 'team behind the team', supporting the playing and coaching staff. How important are the folk working away in the background?
The support staff are utterly vital but too often forgotten, in my opinion. We need them. Take the amount of work put in by someone like the kit man, for example, leaving us free to focus completely on the essentials. Everything's there in your locker and all you have to do is put it on. We mustn't take these people for granted. As a team, we try and ensure we're treating all the staff with the respect they deserve.
How important are trophies to you personally?
They definitely matter. I play football and indeed live for winning trophies. I came to Bayern Munich to win league titles and cups, and I can't think of another club where you'd have the chance of winning trophies so often.
You're known as an outstanding header of the ball. Where does that talent come from?
I think I was just born with heading ability, although I've obviously worked extremely hard on my game in the air. It was crucial, because I recognised it was my biggest strength. I don't practice it specifically every day any more, but I do try and meet the odd cross properly in training, so as not to lose the instinct.
As a world-class striker, you've come up against some excellent defenders in your time. Who's been your most difficult opponent?
I've played against Alessandro Nesta a couple of times now. He's clever, he's strong in the air and tackles hard. His positional sense is superb, and that's a vital factor. He reads the strikers' runs and puts himself in the way. He certainly did exactly that when I came up against him.
How would Miroslav Klose assess his own personality?
I'm basically a relaxed and honest guy, but that can change in an instant out on the field. I can be very direct when I have to be, but most of the time, I try and sort things out man-to-man. I like to solve and get rid of problems as quickly as possible, so I'll immediately address any issues which arise, although never in public.
How important is confidence for a striker in general and you in particular?
Belief in yourself is incredibly important for a striker, because more and better things happen for you in the box when you're on a roll. I live from physical fitness, and I need to be at 100 per cent to play to my full potential. If you look back at the season so far, it's always been the case that I wasn't 100 per cent involved when I was carrying minor knocks. You end up as a passenger and the game passes you by. The only solution is to recover your consistency. Obviously, there's a mental aspect to it as well, but as a player and as a person, fitness is essential for me to have an impact.
Before you signed professional forms, you trained as a carpenter. What are your memories of that time?
I've always played football but at the end of the day, there came a moment when I said to myself, 'right, I've done my apprenticeship and I'll carry on with my trade, but I'm going to try and progress in football too'. I had switched to the [fifth division] Verbandsliga and sensed I could go even further, although I knew that would mean giving up my trade. Thankfully, I was earning enough to live off in Homburg at the time. So I took the decision to concentrate on football. If it hadn't worked out, I was going to go back to my old job, which was all agreed with my employer.
You've scored ten goals at the FIFA World Cup, five short of all-time top scorer Ronaldo. What's your personal target for South Africa 2010?
If I managed six goals next summer, I wouldn't just be Germany's leading World Cup goalscorer, I'd be the all-time record holder. That's my target, although obviously, the priority is our success as a team. My personal goal is to recover peak fitness and make sure I'm at 100 per cent. I intend to perform at club level and put myself forward for the national team and the World Cup. I'm already looking forward to South Africa.
And what are Germany hoping to achieve in South Africa?
It's hard to define our goals at the present time. It depends on the group stage draw, so we'll have to wait on that. Then it comes down to form on the day and luck. My priority is to stay fit, and the rest will follow automatically.
A lot of ink has been spilt over the way Germany are playing at the moment. What's your take on the side?
German national teams have always been characterised by exceptionally hard workers. We still impose ourselves on a game by hard work and running, but we also try and play good football too. Just look at the quality in the squad and the footballing potential, and you have to say we currently have a good blend of workhorses and technically able players. Take Mesut [Ozil] as an example. It's a real bonus having a skilled player like that in the squad. It's no longer good enough just to battle your way into a match, because every team can do that nowadays. We need to call on this virtue as and when it's needed, but we also need to make our quality count and play decent football. I think we're nicely on course for that.