Christian Ziege was a German full-back who played in his homeland, Italy and of course in England, with Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Tottenham.
His globetrotting exploits allow him to offer a unique perspective on world football and the two-time Bundesliga winner continues to keep an eye on his former clubs.
Along with his success with the likes of Bayern Munich and AC Milan, Ziege represented Germany 72 times, finding the net on nine occasions.
He won Euro 1996 with his country and also took part in Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, along with the 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
On Tottenham’s chances of winning the league…
Leicester are obviously favourites for the league but both teams have to play Chelsea and the Foxes have to play Manchester United. With such crucial games yet to play, this could go right down to the wire, which will be incredibly exciting for the fans.
Nobody expected Leicester to top the league and most were thinking they might just survive relegation but now they have Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs all behind them so it’s a wonderful story.
The only problem Leicester could have is a psychological one. When I was playing for AC Milan in 1999, we had five games to go until the end of the season and we were seven points behind Lazio.
We won our last five games and won the league, which was an incredible feeling. This situation is similar in that if Tottenham keep the pressure on and Leicester start to crumble, they could pip them in the end.
Saying that, Spurs could also break because it’s not as if they’re a team like Chelsea, Man City or United who have won the league recently and would have the confidence to keep playing their best during a title run-in.
On Liverpool under Klopp…
The team isn’t used to Jurgen Klopp’s playing style but as with any new system and philosophy, success in the system is just a matter of time.
He loves high pressing football; that’s intense for a team and it means footballers have to re-learn how to play the game.
Winning against Dortmund was a fantastic achievement for Liverpool, but then throwing away a two-goal lead against Newcastle is the opposite.
The team will have to be more consistent next season if they are to push on because as good as it is having great European nights, you have to be consistent in the Premier League.
Klopp will have learned a lot about English football now and will be able to prepare for next season to get players in who suit his style of play even more.
I think that Jurgen has adapted really well in England considering how fast paced it is and how little time you have to adjust.
Liverpool are well suited to him; with their rich history and incredible fan-base, he thrives off the energy of the club.
On Middlesbrough’s promotion push…
I think they deserve to play in the Premier League now based on the season they have had.
My time at Boro was my first experience in the United Kingdom and it was fantastic to play at such a great club.
It was a great privilege for me to play with great players like Paul Gascoigne and I hope for the people of Middlesbrough that the team goes up this season.
On the dominance of Bayern Munich…
I think Bayern are too good for the Bundesliga and this has been shown in the last five years.
Looking at this season, they’ve needed some cover in defence, but I think they’ve coped very well with this.
It’s been great for German football to see Borussia Dortmund competing with them and winning the league in recent years, and you have to praise them for that too, but below them everyone is struggling to keep up.
Bayern deserve a lot of plaudits for how they’ve performed in Europe in particular for the last couple of years as they’ve come out on top against difficult clubs like Arsenal and Juventus.
This year, Atletico Madrid will present a real challenge as they’re strong and hard-working with some great footballers and this is a combination that can be lethal.
The fact that Atletico will have to play at home first and then travel to Munich plays into Bayern’s hands as playing at home and then travelling to your opponent is difficult psychologically.
One thing’s for sure, it will be a fantastic game between two great teams.
On his own time with Die Roten…
I had seven great years in Germany, playing in a great team which was very successful and Bayern Munich is a club I have supported since I was five, so it was a real privilege to begin my professional career with them.
I will never stop loving the club and whether it’s supporting, playing or maintaining contact with people still at the club, I will always have a good relationship with Bayern Munich.
During my time there, I played with some of the most fantastic players but the one player I will always be thankful to is Alan McInally, who took me under his wing during my first year at the club.
Even though his German wasn’t the best, he looked after me and he remains a really good friend.
On Pep Guardiola…
I’m not sure Pep Guardiola lives up to the status of ‘best coach in the world’ as there are so many coaches who simply don’t have the chance to train players of Bayern’s quality and still have great success.
There are scores of coaches who work hard, innovate well and who ultimately do much more given their lower-quality players.
Despite this, I think Guardiola’s style is beautiful. He makes the players play football the way it should be played and when you’re young, you don’t play football to defend, you play because you want to score and dominate the game and he gives them the chance to do this with a high-pressing, highly-attacking mindset.
Comparing his style to previous managers, he’s changed the way they play and we’ve seen some of the most unbelievable football in Munich.
The team has learnt a lot from him – you just have to look at Philipp Lahm, who’s playing extremely well in midfield, and realise how different players can flourish in different positions.
That’s just a mark of how good a coach Guardiola is that he can move a player of such quality to a new position where that player really succeeds.
On the decline of Italian football…
Italy’s old stadiums are crumbling, ticket prices are rising and the cost of watching football on TV is going up.
In my opinion, only Juventus are bucking this declining trend and have a great stadium with great fans rather than a half full San Siro.
They’ve modernised where other clubs haven’t and Juventus have seen consistent success as a result.
As a great player, you want to play at a home stadium where the facilities are superb and I think Italian clubs are suffering because they can’t bring in players who are attracted to modern football clubs.
Historically, Italian clubs have always had great staff, great players and great football and people would talk about AC Milan and Juventus in the same way they do about Barcelona and Real Madrid now.
Italian teams just don’t have the same European successes as they used to.
On Germany ahead of Euro 2016…
The pressure on Germany is always so high as the whole nation is behind them and expecting them to go to the final and win the tournament.
They have to perform well and they have been recently, with Joachim Low leading them to some great wins.
Beating Brazil 7-1 in their own country was phenomenal and beating Argentina to win the World Cup in South America was a great achievement but this is all history and we can’t rest on our laurels.
We had a tough qualifying campaign for the Euros and some players such as Per Mertesacker and Lahm retired so we’re regaining that confidence.
We’ve also had some bad injuries, with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger not playing a lot, Jerome Boateng struggling for fitness and now Emre Can out.
On the squad’s weaknesses…
We have world-class midfielders, defenders and a super goalkeeper, but we don’t have a great forward.
The lack of star striker almost cost us dearly at the World Cup and though Joachim Low has been coping well without a traditional front-man, its something we need to fix fast.
I can’t think of any young traditional forwards coming up through the ranks who can carry a team with Germany’s quality and, although we have Thomas Muller who is a great goalscorer, we need an out-an-out striker to complete the team.
On his prediction for Die Mannschaft…
I think France will play Germany in the final. The French have been playing very well like the Italians and the Spanish.
I would love England to do well as the UK is my second home and if we played them in the final, it would be a great game and we would probably win on penalties.
I think Muller is going to be Germany’s top player as he’s always a key performer in important games.
Neuer is obviously the best player we have, but he doesn’t have the same game-changing influence that Muller does.
Key Player: Thomas Muller