First Team

“People always ask me about VfL”

Bundesliga-winning striker Grafite on Champions League experiences old and new, and the current popularity of the Wolves in his native Brazil.

VfL have played 16 Champions League matches to date, with at least another six to come. Looking back at the Green-and-Whites’ debut in Europe’s foremost club competition, one of the first names that comes to mind is Grafite. In a brief interview, the 42-year-old VfL brand ambassador and 2009 Bundesliga top-scorer spoke about that debut season, his hopes and expectations as he watches on this time around from the other side of the world, having been in Rio de Janeiro with his family for the past three years, and the interest that the Green-and-Whites generate in Brazil.

Grafite, in Wolfsburg everyone is really looking forward to the Champions League. You played a major role in the VfL team that took part in that competition for the first time back in 2009. Can you remember all the opponents?

Grafite: “Of course I can! Manchester United, CSKA Moscow and Besiktas. I can remember every match that I played in. Unfortunately there were only four, because I was provoked during the home game against Besiktas and got my marching orders. The ban meant that I was only back for the last match against Manchester United, that we lost 3-1 thanks to three goals from Michael Owen, and that meant that we didn’t get through. Despite that, it was a great experience, getting to play against the best in Europe. And then we got to carry on in the Europa League.”

Der ehemalige VfL Wolfsburg-Spieler Grafite jubelt nach der deutschen Meisterschaft 2009.

How popular are VfL Wolfsburg in Brazil at the moment? Do you get asked about the Wolves?

Grafite: “Don’t underestimate how well-known VfL are down here. Obviously a lot of that has to do with 2009, when Josue, Caiuby and I all played in Wolfsburg. The league title and the Champions League had a real effect. Edin Dzeko is also someone who is still very popular and whose name is also connected with Wolfsburg. Of all the German clubs, Bayern Munich definitely have the most fans, but the Wolves are not far behind them. And people always come and ask me about VfL.”

How does that come about?

Grafite: “My work on TV means that I’m very active on social media and I regularly post about VfL Wolfsburg, and that always gets a lot of feedback. For example, I recently posted an image of the VfL jersey and I got a lot of requests from people who wanted to get one. The shirts are really popular down here.”

Grafite hält ein Trikot vom VfL Wolfsburg in den Händen.

After you and your team-mates in 2009 and the Real Madrid season in 2015/16, this is VfL’s third time in the Champions League. What are you expecting from the Wolves this time around?

Grafite: “You can’t really say until the groups have been drawn. One thing is for sure, they’ll be up against good-quality opposition again so you can’t just go out and say ‘we want to make it through to the final’. But with enough mental strength – which is what you need to compete in the Bundesliga and the Champions League at the same time – VfL can definitely give a good account of themselves. You can already say for sure that it would be great to get through the group stage and in any case, I can’t wait to see the Wolves in the Champions League again and I’m crossing my fingers in the hope that they go far.”



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