Former FC Bayern München and current VfL Bochum striker Miloš Pantović has an eye for the spectacular with his long-range winners. In this week’s interview, the 25-year-old talks about his long-range goals specialty, his instincts and the derby with Dortmund.
Pantović on his experience at FC Bayern München
I learned a lot. I was at the academy for eight years and then spent three years between the reserves and the first team. I learned everything about football there. I moved from small pitches to full-size pitches at Bayern, I took my first steps there, and learned so much about the game. My education was there, in terms of playing. But my time there also helped me grow as a person, teaching me how to deal with setbacks and the like. The pressure is on at Bayern, a bit more so than elsewhere. You feel like you have to win every game, and not just win – you need to beat the opposition four or five-nil. Bayern is a huge club, and you can take a lot from there: they don’t just teach you lessons in terms of football, but also lessons in terms of life, too.
Pantović on making his debut in the Bundesliga under Pep Guardiola at FC Bayern
When it’s your first Bundesliga game, you never forget it. But the fact it was under Pep, a coach who some people say is the best coach ever, or at least the best in the world right now, it was indescribable for a young player. I think that’s what every young footballer works towards, and it’s a dream for any player to represent their boyhood club, in a stadium like this, in the Bundesliga. And then the fact that my first game was for Bayern under Pep Guardiola with all those stars, it’s obviously special. I have to say, it took me a while to realise what had happened there.
Pantović on his time at VfL Bochum so far
I think it’s normal in football that there are ups and downs. Things don’t always go well – there are always periods when things go wrong. In my first season, I tore my cruciate ligament on match day 4 or 5. This was pretty much my first year as a nailed-on starter, so it was terrible timing for me to get that injury. It took me a good few months to come back, and by the time I was fit the season was basically over. In my second season we were in a relegation battle, we fell down into it, and the third season, yeah, we don’t really need to talk about it with COVID-19. There were obviously special measures in place which meant that football wasn’t quite like how we know it. But I think I’ve fought through those three years well. Perhaps they weren’t always the easiest, but if you see where we’re at with the team right now, you have to say those three years were totally worth it. Like I said, life isn’t always easy, sometimes you have to dig in and get through it.
Pantović on whether he is better at scoring very difficult goals, or easy ones
Everyone has forgotten about the two goals I scored in the DFB Cup against Augsburg, because the two after that were so spectacular. The two against Augsburg, I think they were from 20 yards and about five or six yards out, so I can score simple goals too!
Pantović on the atmosphere at Bochum
For the last 18 months, we didn’t have any fans in the ground, and you forget the atmosphere and how it is to play in front of a crowd. And now, even though we’re not at full capacity, we really have a great atmosphere, and as soon as it gets darker it gets even better. So yeah, on behalf of the whole team and the whole club I can only give huge credit to the fans. They are so important to us, and they always give us amazing support.
Pantović on the next home game against Borussia Dortmund
First of all, it’s important that we get something from the game. We said from the start of the season that it’ll be a tough year for us – it’ll be a difficult fight right to the end. So the most important thing from every game is that we make it as hard as we can for the opponent, and we try our best. If I score a goal from a yard out, or someone else does, I don’t care!
Pantović on scoring another long-range goal
I’ll try from 67 metres, if I get the chance, I’ll give it a go!
Pantović on the rivalry between VfL Bochum and Borussia Dortmund
I think it is a true derby. When we got promoted, it was games like this we were looking forward to. Dortmund is just a couple of kilometres away from us, so there’s a real rivalry there, and we’ve competed in the games in the last few years. I think everyone can look forward to it, because there is always a special atmosphere on a derby day. We’re really excited about the match!
Pantović on what Bochum can achieve this season
I think the important thing is that we don’t drop off. The last few weeks have been good – good for me personally and good for the team. But I think there will be phases where we don’t pick up as many points, or perhaps where we play well and don’t get the points we deserve. But there’s no reason to take our foot off the gas. I’d rather just go week to week rather than talk about big dreams. We have to do our work, look at ourselves, and then it’s really hard to say what’s possible, because if we keep on like this then we’ll definitely get more points on the board. But at the moment, the most important thing is staying in the league – which position we finish in isn’t really that important to us.