Kezman can't get enough

PSV Eindhoven striker Mateja Kezman is looking to improve on his phenomenal 2002/03 season.

Most footballers lie through their teeth and tell you personal records are not important. Fortunately, PSV Eindhoven’s Serbo-Montenegrin striker Mateja Kezman is not one of them - he has no hesitation in proudly listing everything he's achieved in the last twelve months.

Long list
It is a long list - Dutch player of the year, a Dutch championship medal, top scorer in the Eredivisie with 35 goals, runner-up in the race for Europe's Golden Shoe behind RC Deportivo La Coruña's Roy Makaay, and the most goals ever scored in a Dutch league season by a foreigner.

Striking achievement
Since arriving from FK Partizan in summer 2000, the 24 year-old has come on in leaps and bounds, with his coach, Guus Hiddink, saying: "He has grown in personality. When I came to PSV he was quite shy. Now he is calmer. It is great to be able to work with such an eager player."

Finishing school
Following Romario, Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooij through the Philips stadium's finishing school, Kezman is now a major European players. After scoring eight goals in seven games already this season, he spoke to Champions magazine.

What attracted you to PSV?

Mateja Kezman: After three years at Partizan, there was a lot of interest from clubs around Europe. I had plenty to choose from, but as soon as I knew PSV had been in touch there was no question where I would end up. I told the people at Partizan, 'Forget anyone else, I want to go to PSV'. This is the best club for young strikers, where Romario, Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooij and Luc Nilis have all played. This is the place where young strikers go to get better.

How do you explain last season's glut of goals?

Kezman: Things fell perfectly in to place as soon as Guus Hiddink arrived. He created a wonderful atmosphere because he is so good at talking to his players, and with his experience he always knows what to do. He cleared my head and gave me a lot of confidence, so now I feel like I can score whenever I go on the pitch.

What are your targets for this season?

Kezman: Personally, I will try to score more than 30 goals again. It would be nice to beat the Dutch record for the most goals in a season, set by PSV's Coen Dillen in the 1950s, but I don't think 43 goals is possible in today's football. I want PSV to be champions of Holland again, and also progress further than the group phase of the [UEFA] Champions League, something the club has never managed.

What particularly has Guus Hiddink added to your game?

Kezman: He has improved me more than 50 per cent as a player because he has taught me a lot about the game's tactics. I used to make the mistake of running around too much, going back into midfield and places I didn't need to. Guus told me to change that. 'Your job is to score goals, stay up front, and leave the midfielders to do their job,' he would say. I now stay up front more and save my energy for attacking. I am more of a killer now.

This article is an abridged version of an article which appears in the forthcoming issue of Champions, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League. Click here to subscribe now.