Joshua Zirkzee has explained how former team-mates Graziano Pelle and Robert Lewandowski and former coach Miroslav Klose have helped him grow as a player.
Zirkzee left Bayern Munich this summer to sign for Serie A side Bologna, and it’s not the first time that the young Dutch striker has played in Italy.
He spent a short period of time on loan at Parma last year. There, he played alongside Pelle, who he formed a close bond with, saying that the Italian was like a brother and taught him how to head the ball.
“When I first saw him walk in, I immediately went to him. I told him about his goal against Ajax, that volley in the closing stages. I followed Feyenoord a lot during that period. Also because I played there myself in the youth of course. From that moment on, there was open contact between us,” he told Elf Voetbal.
“At Parma, I got injured, but I trained regularly. I learned to head there, thanks to Graziano. The positioning is even more important with heads than with a low cross. He made that clear to me.
“I also learned a lot from him off the field, by the way. With Graziano, I talked a lot about life in Italy. He helped me a lot with that during that period. Unfortunately, I was only at Parma for a short time. It felt like a family there and Pellè like my big brother.”
Zirkzee has spent the majority of his career at Bayern Munich, and learned from team-mates there too, particularly Lewandowski.
“If you ask me, Lewandowski is the ultimate example of the complete striker,” he said of the Pole.
“You also see that in competitions. For him it does not matter whether it has to be with left, right or the head; that ball goes into the goal. You can see from everything that he is world-class.
“What I like best is his positioning. He’s always in the right place. Lewandowski made me realize that I can still make steps in this direction. Just by looking at him, you’re already learning. I was lucky to see him at work up close at Bayern.”
Zirkzee was coached by Klose in Germany, and says that, in the same way that Pelle improved his heading and Lewandowski his positioning, the German improved his finishing.
“That he was a killer in his time as a striker quickly became clear. He’s a bit older, but you can’t tell. He still has the same intensity as before. For me, that was exactly what I needed in my development, a real finisher,” he said.