"The old man is still going – but in the last ten minutes I was dead," forward Ivica Olić said after taking his tally for the Bundesliga season to four with two goals in VfL Wolfsburg's 2-1 weekend win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The Croatian international had celebrated turning 34 on 14 September with a second goal in as many German top-flight games, and with two more versus Hoffenheim, he has built up a head of steam for Wolfsburg's trip to the club where he "had the best time of my career". Saturday's hosts FC Bayern München are themselves still unbeaten six matches into the new campaign.
Olić's former side may be reigning European champions but the UEFA Champions League trophy proved elusive during his own stay in Bavaria following a summer 2009 move from Hamburger SV. Having helped Bayern reach the 2009/10 final, scoring a hat-trick in the semi-final second leg against Olympique Lyonnais, Olić endured the 2-0 loss to FC Internazionale Milano in Madrid.
Worse was to come in the 2011/12 final when, as an extra-time substitute, his penalty miss contributed to Chelsea FC lifting the trophy at Bayern's expense. "Both occasions were difficult," recalled the ex-NK Marsonia prospect. "At the third time of asking Bayern did win the trophy, but sadly without me." Indeed, last May at Wembley the veteran's countryman Mario Mandžukić – brought to Bayern in part-exchange for Olić in June 2012 – got the opener in the Bavarians' success against Borussia Dortmund.
That may have given Olić food for thought, yet he insisted that – with first-team opportunities getting rarer – he had left the club at the right time. "I had the chance to remain at Bayern but I really wanted to play a lot more," explained the player capped 87 times by Croatia, including appearances at UEFA EURO 2004, the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2008.
That wish for regular football was granted by Wolfsburg. In his first term he made 28 starts and came up with nine Bundesliga goals and six more assists. If Olić's 600-minute barren spell at the beginning of this campaign had some Wolfsburg fans nervously requesting that their side sign a striker, his current hot streak has others demanding he be offered a new contract to replace the existing deal that expires next summer.
"I will stay quiet until winter," said Olić – a 2004/05 UEFA Cup winner with PFC CSKA Moskva – after the Hoffenheim game. "But if I keep playing like I have been and score my goals, the offers will come ... from here or elsewhere." And should he help end Bayern's unbeaten start, his many well-wishers in Munich would not begrudge the "old man" his moment of glory.
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