Rüdiger: “It’s like I’m dreaming, but this is real”

Antonio Rüdiger was officially presented as a Real Madrid player at Valdebebas on Monday before facing the media for his first interview. Here’s his interview in full:

“First of all, I’m very grateful to be here. It’s like I’m dreaming, but this is real and I feel immense pleasure to be here. I’ve never seen anything like this before, Real Madrid City is simply spectacular, it thrills me and I look forward to the day when I start training there.”

“I think everyone knows and this can be seen here. I’ve always said that the Champions League is Real Madrid’s competition, because that’s where you see the club’s real side.”


“Ancelotti, the manager, has played a big part in this. After I spoke to him I was convinced I wanted to join Real Madrid. But in general, everything this club represents is evident.”

How would you define yourself?

“I’m a player with a strong character, but I think it’s best to leave the rest to others and not to talk too much about yourself. I think it’s hard to improve your speed, but I’m lucky because it’s something I have thanks to my genetics and I’m really pleased about that. On the pitch, I’m focused exclusively on work, but off the pitch I’m funny and I like to laugh and make people have a good time. But most of all I can laugh at myself. Since Toni Kroos is already in the team, and I don’t like to be called Antonio, I’d like people to call me Rudi.”

Real Madrid’s defenders

“Ultimately, we are talking about players who have just won the Champions League, while Nacho, for instance, has won it five times. It’ s a very good combination of experience and, say, Militão who is a bit younger but also internationally recognised and with a lot of games under his belt. I’m looking forward to starting.”

Chat with teammates

“I haven’t spoken to Kroos too much about Real Madrid, I’ve spoken to Mateo Kovacić and he’s told me a lot of things, because he talks a lot about Modrić. He told me: ‘You go there and enjoy it, it’s a great move for you’. I’ve never heard a bad word about Real Madrid.”

The manager

“It’s an honour to play for Carlo Ancelotti. I’m convinced I can still learn a lot from him, and I hope he can help me win another Champions League here.”

Call with Ronaldo

“Ronaldo played in the 2002 final against Germany sporting a very distinctive haircut. When we were kids playing football in the street, Ronaldo was our idol. When I signed, I spoke to him on a video call. I was excited and very nervous at the same time. See you soon. Hala Madrid!”

The pressure of playing for Real Madrid

“I was in the trophy cabinet and there the pressure starts. But, you can’t run away from it. You have to try to enjoy it. I like feeling pressure. I’ve experienced pressure fighting relegation. This is good pressure.”

Negotiations for his transfer

“The first time I got in contact, not myself but through my agent, was in early September . The second time was when I spoke with Ancelotti in April. I think that was the most important moment, to speak with Ancelotti and then I made my choice to play for this club and under him.”

“It was easy to focus on that game (Chelsea vs Real Madrid). I’m professional. It was a very intense game, my first game playing at the Santiago Bernabéu. It went quite well for me and my team. We scored the third goal, but the atmosphere was still positive and the fans were still going strong. That was impressive.”

Interest from Barcelona

“Yes, there was interest from Barça. But I told my brother it’s Real Madrid or nothing.”

On the competition he’ll face

“Of course Real Madrid is stacked with very good players, in my position as well. But, I am confident. What do I bring? Competition, which is healthy for everyone and keeps everyone going. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to the challenge. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I have to come here this first year and adapt. I will also do my best to communicate in Spanish.”

LaLiga Santander

“In Germany it was a lot of running and it was physical. Then, in Italy, it’s more about tactics and I learned to control the game. Then Premier League is wow. There’s a lot of games and high intensity. From looking at LaLiga, you see very good football. Teams don’t all sit back. They press. It’s going to be a new challenge and I’m always open to new challenges.”

His idols

“When I grew up everybody wanted to be a striker so everybody wanted to be Ronaldo Nazário. But, I’d mention Zidane too. His goal against Leverkusen was art. There were a lot of top top centre-backs too, but one who I liked was Pepe. From what I heard, out of the pitch he’s a very nice person and on the pitch he’s a monster. I like that. I like to laugh and dance, but I don’t joke around on the pitch.”

Picking a shirt number

“I like the number 2, so it was between 12 or 22. I was not really thinking about the pressure. For me, it’s that 22 looks nice.”

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