Nicklas Bendtner has bemoaned his position as a point of footballing ridicule, adding that he is “tired of being portrayed as an idiot”.
Bendtner joined current club Wolfsburg from Arsenal in the summer of 2014 after loan spells with Sunderland and Juventus in the preceding seasons.
The Danish striker emerged at Arsenal as a hugely promising prospect, but managed just 47 goals in 171 appearances from 2005 to 2014. Bendtner then became more a figure of ridicule, such as when he offered to refund any Arsenal fans after changing his shirt number from 26 to 52.
But the 27-year-old is aiming to shake off the perennial tag of ‘lazy joker’ which has followed him throughout the career, and is looking to break into the Wolfsburg first team after scoring three goals in four appearances this season.
“You can ask anyone at Wolfsburg: Is Nicklas in the gym before training? Is Nicklas always in the gym after training? And anyone would confirm that [I am]. I have even bought an exercise bike for my flat. That I am working hard is there for everyone to see,” he told The Guardian.
“I have always had a huge desire but perhaps not always the right perspective. I used to think that a forward’s responsibility was to score goals. Now I know that you have to run as well.
“I don’t say yes to every interview request. I am tired of being portrayed as an idiot. And even journalists who I trust are not capable of describing in words what I am feeling when I am not playing.”
Bendtner also explained why he once compared himself to a tiger, adding: “The tiger stands at the end of the food chain. He eats to survive, without any compassion, he doesn’t even feel it. He is the predator par excellence, an animal of dangerous beauty.”