With 13 goals his last ten games, Dutch striker Bas Dost is the newest sensation at Wolfsburg. The Wolves are in superb form and as such have become Bayern Munich’s main rivals in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg have also qualified for the round of 16 in the Europa League, where they will face Italian giants Inter.
Inside Futbol went to talk to one of the hottest strikers in Europe at present.
Inside Futbol (IF): Bas Dost, you turned from your coach’s third choice into one of the most lethal strikers in the Bundesliga within the space of two months. What happened?
Bas Dost (BD): Everybody asks me, however I haven’t got a magic formula to reveal. Why didn’t I score before? The answer is simple: I didn’t play and I was often injured. It was a vicious circle that was hard to break. You must be mentally strong and never give up.
IF: At the moment your numbers can be compared to Lionel Messi’s. Four goals against Bayer Leverkusen, three braces in the Bundesliga, and your first European goals, against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.
BD: It all began with the brace against Bayern Munich. That was an emotional game. It was the first official match we played after the death of Junior Malanda and every one of us stepped onto the pitch so full of energy. His death was a big blow. Junior had a fantastic future ahead of him. Before the winter break he was in the same position as me – stay or leave? We discussed this a lot with each other, then we chose together to stay at Wolfsburg until the end of the season. Two days after our talk he was dead. Unbelievable…
IF: You said that the game against Bayern Munich was the turning point in your season?
BD: I scored two goals – the second was impressive. I remember Arjen Robben coming close to me and saying ‘you’ll never score another one like this again’. Isn’t it amazing to hear these kinds of words from one of the Bundesliga’s best players?
IF: Since then you have become the “Plattfuss-Bomber” (Flatfoot Bomber)..
BD: It was a typical Bild invention [German tabloid, Ed.]. They are masters of finding nicknames or slick words to put as the headline in an article. My foot gave my ankles many problems and now I play with support insoles in my shoes and things are different. I am in a phase of great self-confidence, I know the ball will know where I want it to go and I have increased my cold-blooded composure in front of goal.
IF: Your first impact in the Bundesliga was positive wasn’t it?
BD: Yes, in the first half of my first season with Wolfsburg I scored seven times and that was not bad for a Bundesliga newcomer. Then things started to go from bad to worse. First, Felix Magath was sacked and his successor, Dieter Hecking, chose Ivica Olic for the striker’s position in the starting eleven. He liked Olic’s work attitude, however we are two different types of player. I began to train harder and harder, but things didn’t change.
IF: Magath’s departure was a big blow for you.
BD: Sure, he was the man who brought me to Wolfsburg and he made me fitter. But things were not working with the whole team. That led to the change in coach.
IF: Are Magath’s methods as tough and terrible as is often said?
BD: Magath wants to have control of everything. The players never know what will happen next and this confusion is his power. I remember my first training camp with Wolfsburg. We were in Glucksburg, on the Baltic Sea. At 7am the phone rang. My muscles were full of pain after the previous day’s training. We went with the bikes to an athletic track. We were split into groups of four and then we had to do two laps as quickly as possible. After two rounds, 800 metres of reckless riding, we got a minute’s break. Then we had to start again. We did it another eight times. At the end we were like puddings.
IF: The 2013/14 season, your second at Wolfsburg, was disappointing, wasn’t it?
BD: I did well in the pre-season friendlies, where I was the club’s top scorer. Then, unluckily, came my first ankle injury – I’d never had a serious one before in my career. Looking back at that period, I also blame myself for a recovery which was too slow. I should have gone to a specialist sooner than I did. When the pain in my ankles began, at Wolfsburg the doctors told me ‘OK, take two weeks to rest and you’ll be like new’. After two weeks my pain was exactly the same. It was Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt [Bayern Munich’s club doctor, Ed.] who was the man who helped me. When he visited, he discovered that I had a little bone that had to be removed. So, I was operated on and another season was gone. Now, when I feel some pain in my ankle, I immediately call him and go to Munich. At the beginning of the current season, I was not ready to play a Bundesliga game, neither physically nor mentally. I still felt pain and I feared something would happen to my ankles again. He has been fundamental for me.
IF: Three years ago you were the top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 32 goals in 34 games with Heerenveen. Is this the right time for an international debut?
BD: The Oranje is a dream, of course. I just think, let’s go on scoring and let’s see what will happen. With strikers like Robin van Persie or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who am I to say that I deserve a chance with the Netherlands? I prefer to keep my mouth shut and continue working. But if that day comes, I know it will be magic.
Shortly after the interview Bas Dost was named in Guus Hiddink's initial 28-man Netherlands squad to play Turkey and Spain.