Iashvili: We're not satisfied
Since joining Freiburg from Dinamo Tbilisi back in 1997, Georgia international Alexander Iashvili has been a mainstay in Germany's top two tiers. Unsurprisingly then, his country of residence now holds a special place in his heart.
"Georgia is my home," the 32-year-old forward told FIFA.com. "I have my family and lots of friends there, and I want to go back once I finish playing. I have plenty to thank Germany for, though. My kids were born here. The country has become my second home."
After a decade with Freiburg, Iashvili joined Karlsruher three years ago and is still plying his trade with the south-west German outfit in the second flight. KSC currently lie 12th in the table, well below what they are capable of according to the ambitious Georgian, who has 11 goals and 14 assists to his name in 84 matches for the club.
"It's important to me that the team plays well," Iashvili said. "We're not satisfied at the moment and we should have more points than we do. We're a good team but we need to prove that out on the pitch. I know I can always improve personally, and I'll only be satisfied once we achieve our collective goal."
While things could be going better at club level, Iashvili has helped Georgia make a solid start to UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying. A 1-1 draw in Greece was followed by another point against Israel, but as the only goalscorer in his country's campaign to date, Iashvili is erring on the side of caution.
"The match against Greece was very good," he said. "We were leading at half-time and I think we deserved more than just a point. Still, we can be happy with the draw. Our big goal is and was to win our home games. We were the better side against Israel and were on the right track, so we were disappointed not to get the victory."
This coming Friday, Georgia entertain Group F outsiders Malta before travelling to Latvia four days later, and Iashvili is after maximum points from both matches. "We need to win the two games against Malta and Latvia, but we can't afford to underestimate them," he warned.
"Obviously we're the favourites at home to Malta, but we need to give 100 per cent if we are to make steps towards our dream of qualifying for EURO 2012. Latvia have a very good team. They've already played at a EURO and they've got some very good, quick players."
Despite their good start, Iashvili was keen to play down any suggestions that Georgia are among the favourites in the group. In his opinion, just two teams can realistically expect to secure their tickets to EURO 2012.
"Croatia are the best team in our group because of their individual players," he said. "You can't ignore Greece either. I think those two teams will be fighting it out for top spot. We want to entertain our fans on home turf and try and win as many games there as possible. We'll have to see what we can pick up on the road."
At 32 years of age and with 58 international caps to his name, Iashvili is among the more experienced members of Temuri Ketsbaia's squad, giving him added responsibility in the dressing room.
"I think I do have a leadership role in the team," he explained. "Along with Levan Kobiashvili and Kakha Kaladze, I'm one of the most experienced members of the squad. We try to set an example to some of the younger players."
The two-time king
Iashvili has twice been named Georgian Footballer of the Year, in 2004 and 2008, both during his lengthy spell with Freiburg, where he netted 51 times in 255 league appearances.
"It meant a lot to me to be voted the best footballer in my country on two separate occasions," he said. "It's a big thing and it makes me very proud. There are some great players in our country. To be picked as the best is really a major achievement."
If Iashvili can continue to find the target in EURO 2012 qualifying, he might well receive the award for a third time.