Dzeko: City is perfect move for me
A huge weight of expectation is about to come crashing down on Edin Dzeko after he became the first big money signing of the January transfer window by sealing a £27 million switch from Wolfsburg to Manchester City last week.
Yet the Bosnian goal machine insists he is ready to live up to his new lofty billing as he tells ESPNsoccernet's Nick Bidwell that his reputation for being a dressing-room troublemaker is not justified.
You've been accused of abusing player power in order to force a move away from Wolfsburg. How do you react to this charge?
This is just not fair. For all of my three-and-a-half seasons at Wolfsburg, I gave all I could on the training ground and on matchdays and the critics need only to look at my scoring stats to understand this. It's important to put things in context. I cannot stress enough that I'm first and foremost a team player and this reputation stems from a false story from a couple of years ago.
Are you alluding to the story that said you went on strike when AC Milan tried to sign you in 2009?
Yes and it wasn't true. I'm a professional, I take my job seriously and I'm not one to cause any trouble. When Wolfsburg refused to allow me to join Milan in the summer of 2009, I was a little disappointed, but it's wrong to say I went on strike. I accepted their decision and got on with it. There was no sulking from me. I was the top scorer in the Bundesliga last season. No one should forget this.
There have been times this season when you have provoked controversy, especially after refusing to shake the hand of Wolfsburg coach Steve McClaren when he substituted you in a game with Werder Bremen. What are your thoughts on this incident now?
I regret this moment. I had just missed a penalty, felt great frustration and had some anger, but you have to understand that the last 18 months have been a crazy time for me. McClaren wished me well when I left Wolfsburg and my relationship with him was good.
Why has it been a stressful period for you?
After helping Wolfsburg win the 2009 Bundesliga against the odds, interest in me from big clubs just snowballed and the more I thought about it, the more I felt ready to take that next big step in my career. This meant I was unsettled. Of course, Wolfsburg had every right to hold onto me, but it became a case of two parties pulling in different directions.
You must be relieved it's all over now then?
For sure, as it takes a toll on you mentally. I've still managed to stay among the leading goalscorers in the Bundesliga this season, but this transfer to Manchester City is the best solution for both Wolfsburg and myself. I've got a new and exciting challenge, while Wolfsburg can call halt on all the speculation, which was doing no one any good.
After links with Juventus, AC Milan and Manchester United, a switch to Manchester City is not quite what you were expecting a year ago, so are you happy with it?
This move is perfect for me. It's plain to see that Manchester City are a fast-growing force in both England and Europe. They might not have played in the Champions League yet, but that day should not be long in coming. They have hugely ambitious plans and when you meet people in authority at the club, you cannot fail to notice how driven they are to build something amazing here. I'm honoured that City chose me to help them in their mission. This club is for real.
Will qualification for the Champions League be enough for City this season?
Naturally it takes time to build a top club and to make history, but I'm a competitive person and wouldn't be joining City if I didn't see them as true contenders for the Premier League this season. I'm no expert on English football, but one look at the table tells you it's a very open title race this time, with at least five clubs in with chance of going all the way. It will be tough, but it is achievable.
Your experience at Wolfsburg, winning the title when few expected it, shows what is possible. Maybe you will mention this success to your new team-mates?
Yes, my Wolfsburg team came from nowhere to finish as German champions in 2009. In the second half of that season, we created momentum and could not be stopped and Manchester City have the potential do the same. We have the squad depth, extraordinary individuals and a very smart coach in Roberto Mancini.
Are you concerned that your big price tag will weigh you down at Manchester City?
A lot will be expected of me here. They have brought me in to make a difference straight away and I need to repay their faith. Strikers are judged by their goals and I have to deliver, but this move to England does not fill me with any apprehension. I'm ready to start this new adventure and show a new audience just what I can do.
Do you anticipate any problems adapting to your new sporting environment?
Not really. I speak English quite well and the style of play in the Bundesliga and Premier League is quite similar I think. I know what to expect: a very speedy, physical and intense game. I think I'll fit in well.
What qualities do you bring to the Premier League?
Total belief in my ability as a goalscorer. I've had a good record at every club I have played for and even though some are predicting I will find it tougher in England, I have no fears at all of not making the grade. I always want to improve and I intend to put in the hours and the effort to keep moving forward.
You have been hailed as the 'next Marco van Basten'. Is this tag a burden?
I don't necessarily believe it because I'm only in an early phase in my career and still have a lot to prove. That said, I am flattered to be classed alongside Van Basten. It shows I'm doing something right.