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The veteran and the Champions League

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The veteran and the Champions League

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:00 pm

With the friendly Bavarian greeting of Servus, Ze Roberto took a seat behind a battery of microphones and surveyed the reporters packed into Bayern's temporary media centre at the team hotel. "We can start," the Brazilian declared, before holding forth in fluent German for the next 20 minutes, even including a jokey aside or two. It was undoubtedly one of the wittiest news conferences given by Zé in his time with Bayern.

"I'm an old man already. At 34, a punishing training camp like this isn't easy any more," he offered with a grin, before turning serious for a moment: "But it's no problem. If we keep training like this, I'll soon recapture my form from the first half of the season."

Freedom to roam

The gifted midfielder has been one of the undisputed stars for Munich so far this term. "I think it's my best season since coming to Bayern," he agreed. He has two goals apiece in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, one of those a vital equaliser at home to Olympique Lyon - a header, of all things. But what explains his superb form? "Ottmar Hitzfeld played me more defensively, but Klinsmann has me in an attacking role with freedom to roam. I'm really enjoying it."

The oldest player in the current squad is also enjoying the daily routine at the club, especially in Dubai. "Unfortunately, we're only here for ten days," he said to general astonishment in the room, before supplying a characteristically Brazilian explanation: "I'd rather stay here and train than go back to Munich where it's minus ten degrees." However, Ze has been in Europe a long time, "and I don't have as many problems with the weather now," he assured his rapt audience.testThe player may or may not spend one more winter in Germany, depending on the result of contract talks with the club. Zé is a free agent at the end of the season, but the board would like him to stay for one more year. "We're not getting worked up about it, because we can deal with it in late March or early April. If he'd like to talk to us earlier, we'd be only too delighted to sit and talk," general manager Uli Hoeneß commented recently.

Still undecided

Zé is equally in no hurry to finalise his decision. "The club wants me to sign an extension, but I'm not sure yet." The player's agent is due in Munich to open negotiations with the board, but that was the last thing on Ze's mind during a festive vacation spent exclusively with his extended family in Brazil. "My father died last August, and our first Christmas without him wasn't easy." It was the only moment during the extraordinary news conference when the 34-year-old became more than a little pensive.

The sparkle returned to his eyes when he was asked what Bayern might yet achieve this season. "The opportunity is a big one, and we're headed in the right direction," commented Zé, whose partnership with Franck Ribéry and Philipp Lahm arguably forms the strongest left flank in European football. "Ribéry has huge potential, and I have a little (laughs). But we're not just strong down the left, we're a very good team all over the park." Zé Roberto feels anything could happen this term. Anything? "I dream of the Champions League, that's the trophy I really want to win," he declared.
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