He may not have got his swansong in Werder Bremen’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Heidenheim, but Claudio Pizarro left the field after Monday’s relegation playoff raised in the arms of his teammates.
The Peruvian exits the stage having scored 197 goals in the Bundesliga, the second most of any foreign player ever to have played in Germany’s top flight.
Though his two spells at Bayern Munich between 2001-2007 and 2012-2015 may have made his name internationally, Bremen were his first love in German football. Having first arrived in the north of the country at the back end of the last century, his fourth spell with the club will be his last.
His final Bundesliga campaign has been a goalless affair, having played just 214 minutes across 18 matches. And although it leaves him just three agonising goals short of the 200 mark in the league, Pizarro remains the sixth highest scorer in Bundesliga history.
He won six titles, the 2013 Champions League and five German Cups in his career and it was in the latter competition that his last competitive goals came, a brace against fifth-tier SV Atlas Delmenhorst back in August.
Claudio Pizarro is lifted by teammates as he farewells Werder Bremen.
His first strike in Germany came way back in the last century, September 9 in 1999 to be precise. He told DW earlier this season that the buzz he got from hitting the back of the net never faded.
“The feeling of scoring a goal hasn’t changed one bit,” Pizarro said. “My first goal in Germany was very special but I think all goals are important.”
With that thrill now just a memory, however, Pizarro’s thoughts will inevitably turn to what’s next. Having played under Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jupp Heynckes, Pizarro has presumably learned a trick or two. But it’s been clear from his career that he’ll make his own way.
“I would be a very intense coach. When I decide to do something, then I do it to the best of my abilities. In order to be successful as a coach, you need to invest a lot of time and that’s what I’m trying to avoid for now.”
Those were his words in that interview back in October when the world, and the Bundesliga table, looked very different. As with so much else, Pizarro’s future is currently unclear. But his legacy is assured.