Leonardo Bittencourt: „The year in Dortmund was very important for my development“
With a lot of advance praise Leonardo Bittencourt moved from his home club Energie Cottbus to Borussia Dortmund in summer 2012. However, the youngest U21 international of all times couldn't really prevail at BVB: The now 21 year old scored one goal and registered one assist in only five Bundesliga matches. Bittencourt had more appearances for BVB II in the 3rd Liga where he played 12 games, scored one goal and had 3 assists. The competition in the first team was overall simply too big, that's why BVB sold the midfielder to Bundesliga competitor Hanonover 96 after one year only, however not without securing a 4 Million Euro buyback option for themselves. With schwatzgelb.com Bittencourt talked about the situation at Hannover 96, his time at BVB and the U21 Euros this summer.: Leo, recently you suffered a torn hamstring and are out for several weeks. Will we see you on the pitch again this season?
Bittencourt: Of course that depends on the healing process. The medical staff here are great and try everything. Of course I hope that I can still help the team during the final games of the season.
After your transfer from BVB to Hannover 96 in summer 2013 you played 57 games, scored 5 goals and set up 8. Are you satisfied with this record and your development?
It was my goal to play more games after the transfer. That worked. Of course I would have liked to score even more goals, however you can't force that and I continue to try and increase my goal rate.
After a jinxed second half of the season your team are in the middle of the relegation fight right now. How do you explain the huge difference to the first half of the season?
If I was able to just simply explain it we could have stopped the reasons. There are a lot of things coming together when you end up in such a position after a good start of the season. However it's a fact that we have quality, the first half of the season showed that. Now it's about quickly using the exisiting potential on the pitch again.
Could you maybe compare your situation to BVB who also had a long negative run in the first half of the season?
You could definitely say that. Noone expected it from BVB either that they'd find themselves right at the bottom of the table. Everything comes together when you have such a negative run. Bad luck is drawing bad luck somehow. However the good thing is that every bad run ends eventually. BVB showed how to do that and we will be able to achieve that too.
There's a few disagreements between the board and the fans at your club right now. How do you experience that as a player?
Luckily that sorted itself out by now. During our last home match the fans gave us great support. You find out about the disagreements a bit but we notice it more in the stadium. A good atmosphere is always a real help for us.
Could this disruption also be reason for the negative league run or shouldn't those "excuses" count?It has nothing to do with that. We are all professionals and get prepared ideally by our coach for of every game. Those disagreements have no influence on the not ideal results on the pitch.
Let's talk about BVB: In March 2013 you scored your first Bundesliga goal during the 5-1 win against Freiburg. How did that feel?
Simply brilliant, a really amazing feeling. I still get goosebumps when I think about it today.
What do you think about the BVB fans, especially the Südtribüne?
The BVB fans and especially the Südtribüne live "true love". For BVB and their fans that's not only an advertisement slogan, it's real. They stand by their club in good and in bad times and the Südtribüne in Dortmund is simply outstanding.
Are you still in contact with the players of the current BVB team?
Of course, you always bump into eachother now and again and you're in contact via social media. I especially talk with Marco Reus a lot, we got along well back then already and that never stopped.
How do you judge Jürgen Klopp's departure from a distance?
I have huge respect for his decision and the way how he announced it. He will always be a part of BVB's success story.
In your opinion do you think BVB found the right successor with Thomas Tuchel?BVB has a great leadership team and in my opinion made a very good decision. Thomas Tuchel made his mark in Mainz and we can all get excited about which marks he will make in Dortmund.
You didn't participate in too many matches in your year with Borussia. Were you hoping for more after your transfer from Cottbus to BVB?
No, as a young player I was realistic. I always wanted to go to such a club because even if you don't play that often you learn a lot. That's why the year in Dortmund was also very important for my development. I gained extremely much from my teammates, the coaching staff and the whole atmosphere in the club.
Which moment from this time do you particularly remember?
My first Bundesliga goal in front of the Südtribüne and to experience the Champions League anthem as a player in the stadium. As a boy you dream to be present at such games.
What made you decide to join BVB?
The acting people were convincing, the club is very appealing, the fans are great. The black and yellow package was and is simply a very good one. Jürgen Klopp was also very important for my decision. In the end the coach is the person you deal with the most.
How do your future plans look? Do you first of all want to stay in Hannover or are you already in contact with Watzke and Zorc?
Currently I am only interested in finishing the season well with Hannover and to stay up. Everything else is not my issue at the moment.
BVB have a buyback option for you this summer. Are you already in contact with Watzke and Zorc?I am only concerned with Hannover 96 right now. Our situation demands the full attention from every single player. My agent is taking care of contract issues and talks.
Did your mate Moritz Leitner who will return to Borussia in summer maybe already try to convince you of a return to BVB?
No, we also don't only talk about football and if we do then about our mutual topic the U21 national team.
You gave us the right cue with that: The U21 Euros are this summer and you are normally an integral part in the German squad. Did Horst Hrubesch already get in touch with you after your injury?
Horst Hrubesch is always in touch with all international players, watches many games and asks about us. He is also always in talks with me.
How big are your chances to get called up for the tournament despite your injury?
I expect to recover from my injury before the end of the season and the be able to play for my club and also for the national team.
What are your hopes for the tournament in summer? Do you have a set target internally or do you look from game to game?
We are certainly amongst the favourites and we are sportsmen, so of course we preferably want to win the tournament!
And finally: Where do you think Hannover will finish in the table at the end of the season and where will BVB be?
I strongly assume that we will manage to avoid the relegation and also the relegation play off games. I wouldn't put it past BVB to still qualify for the Europa League with a good run at the end and of course a victory in the Cup final in Berlin.
Interview: Daniel R 07.05.2015
translated by Sandra