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the understated star

November 10, 2010

Updated with an interview!

Over at El País, there is a nice write-up on Sami Khedira.  He sounds exactly like what Madrid needs, and I’m so happy that he’s fitting in well and becoming a key part of this team!

Here are the parts I liked from the article.

Neither a private airplane nor a chauffeur.  It’s said that Sami Khedira makes his way to the call-ups of the German national team using German Wings, a low-cost airline.  The man is discrete.  He’s right in the middle, neither miserly nor generous, neither excessive nor timid.  He oscillates between the limits of moderation.  He doesn’t stand out in anything, and he gets angry when someone reminds him that he escapes notice.  He says that’s precisely what his job is: “it could be that I’m not as spectacular as I was in Stuttgart, but now my job isn’t to be like that.  People believe that Madrid signed me to give assists and to score goals.  But now I have to change.  I have to be less impetuous.  I have to play with intelligence.  Here, my function is to be well-positioned in the back, to bring stability and to deliver the ball cleanly.  That’s what Mourinho told me and that is the truth.  The best players in the world in my position play like this.”

José Mourinho firmly believes that someone is needed to do these jobs of cleaning up and maintaining things.  That’s why he focused on Khedira.  Both he and Khedira’s teammates are satisfied with him.  They say he’s disciplined, and are grateful for the distances that he runs, for his sense of order.  It’s unusual for him to lose his place and he plays with prudence and simplicity.  Lately, he has also improved the precision of his passes, which means that he can participate in plays without breaking up the rhythm of the game or losing the ball in dangerous spots.  But above all, his teammates say that he’s benefited from the collaboration of the forwards in the defense, and from the good coverage.

Khedira is the image of courtesy.  Elegant, well-mannered, a polyglot, courteous and careful with everything.  Against Atlético, he made 40 good passes, right between the most productive player (Xabi Alonso, with 73) and the least (Higuaín, with 16).  It was the same with the steals, another of his functions: he stole five, right between Carvalho with 15, and Di María with one.  He participated in 34 group maneuvers, right between Higuaín’s 29 and Xabi’s 59.

Mourinho was looking for someone like him.  “He didn’t even need 15 minutes to convince me that I should sign for Madrid,” Khedira remembers of his telephone conversation with the coach.  After signing his contract, he invited his friends to Madrid’s museum.  They looked at the trophies, at the reflections of their faces in the silver.  “You realize right away that you’re part of a myth.”

He’s still fascinated by the club and his surroundings.  “In the locker room, my teammates treat me respectfully and humanely… Mourinho talks a lot with me because I occupy a central spot on the field.  He made me feel important from the beginning.  I never had the feeling that I would come to Madrid and only play five minutes a game.  Now I’m sure he’s the best coach.  Cristiano Ronaldo was also very nice; he immediately offered me his help.  He advised me on which restaurants I should go to.”

And here’s parts from an interview Sami did with La Gaceta!

Q:  This is your fourth month as a Real Madrid player.  What’s your take on it?

I’m feeling good, and I adapted rapidly to the team.  I’ve played almost all the games from the beginning, and 90 minutes of those.  I’m very content with how things are going for me.

Q:  And how is your adaptation to the city and the team?

Madrid is a very beautiful city and you live well here.  So far I haven’t been able to see a lot, but I have gone out to drink and eat with my friends.  I’m very happy living here.  It’s true that the people are very open here.

Q:  How is your Spanish?

(He begins to speak broken Spanish).  I try to, but in this moment it’s difficult for me.  (He laughs and goes back to German).  I try to speak in Spanish with my friends, and I hope that I’m improving.

Q:  Is it true that you live with a Spanish person?

No.  I live alone.  I try to meet as many Spaniards as I can to speak and write in Spanish.  I take four to five hours of Spanish classes each day.  I go out a lot with a friend from Cologne who lives here and who speaks Spanish perfectly.  He’s the person that I spend the most time with.

Q:  How do you communicate in the locker room?

The majority of the communication takes place in English.  Even though I don’t speak Spanish, I understand almost all that is said.  I learn new words every day, but I almost always speak in English because that’s the language that almost everyone speaks.

How is your relationship with Florentino?

Normally, I speak with the president after each game.  We meet up in the locker room or right outside, and I usually talk with him, in English, because he speaks English well.

What’s Mourinho like?

José is one of the reasons why I’m at Real Madrid.  He’s a perfectionist, he loves football and he wants to do everything perfectly, and always win.  He’s been victorious in all of the teams he’s been on.  He’s a great professional, a nice person, a disciplinarian and someone who really enjoys his work.

It’s said that he spoke with you personally to convince you to sign with Madrid.

It’s true.  I had an offer from Madrid after the World Cup.  It was an honor, but before I accepted, I wanted to know what the training plans and the team were going to be like.  Mourinho called me and spoke with me three days after Germany was eliminated from the World Cup.  I returned to Madrid, met with him, and listened

And what did he tell you?

Not a lot.  He convinced me to sign in about two or three minutes.  He told me that he would love to have me on his team and I wanted to work with him.  It didn’t take long for us to understand each other.  I didn’t even have to think about it.  Mourinho and I have the same way of thinking, the same philosophy, we always want to win.  For that reason, I didn’t have any doubts.

Read the full interview here!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. LaBlanca permalink
    November 10, 2010 08:55

    Diego Torres is one of my fav. journalists. I check El País every day for a column of him. Today he has something of Peter Lion.

    it looks as if Samis workrate gives Xabi more freedom being creative. He looks so improved to last season. Really Im surprised what immediate impact hes made. Thought it would be hard for him against Lass & Gago. Well Gago is really unlucky with injuries, but still there was Lass, who has been playing great for RM in most of the games.

  2. Laura permalink
    November 10, 2010 10:06

    It’s true he isn’t that spectacular as in Stuttgart, but he’s doing an excellent job in Madrid. And I’m very happy that he has pravalied.
    Eventhough he’s missed in Stuttgart, I think it was the best decision for him to sign for Madrid. And I think the time will come when he returns to be spectacular again and shoots goals. : )

  3. November 10, 2010 10:25

    I love you for finding this, thank you! 😀
    Love reading his interview, he is so well-spoken and level-headed (I could virtualy hang on his lips …)
    And I sent you a mail 😉

  4. Kelly permalink
    November 10, 2010 10:48

    Thanks for the summary. Excellent post.

    Chris might have worst taste of clothes but he is certainly a very sweet guy. Everyone who has ever worked with Chris talks very high of him, professionally and personally. : )

    Khedira puts a lot of thoughts into what he talks about, very intelligent and modest. His partnership with Xabi is fantastic to say the least. I also like the fact that he tries very powerful shoot from long distance from time to time, which unfornately hit the cross bar once or twice! I hope his first goal for RM comes sooner than later so that we can see his goal celebration! Can’t wait!

  5. November 10, 2010 10:59

    Sami sounds like such an amazing down to earth guy. Now that’s a term that you usually don’t associate with most football players. I am so glad that he has settled down so well into the team.

    I’m really nervous about tonight’s match. Will be wearing my lucky shirt and sitting on the edge of my seat. BUT to balance out things, I rather we loose out on this, rather than the CL or the La Liga. I know, I’ll get shot for saying stuff like that in public. 🙂

  6. November 10, 2010 11:15

    I really like how both Germans are performing. They clearly put the team ahead of themselves.
    Khedira for example, he maybe isn’t the flashiest in the field but we should be grateful that someone is willing to do behind the scene and cleaning up tasks. I don’t think many footballers would sincerely do the boring job he’s doing, and he does them perfectly. At least Mou, his teammates and someone who really understands football like Diego Torres acknowledge his work. I believe many fans out there too, because I do.

  7. Madhatter permalink
    November 10, 2010 11:49

    Thanks for translating Una. May I ask you, where can we find statistics for a player for each game? I tried as and marca, but I only found turnovers and recoverd, fouls, total passes for all games but couldn’t find the number of passes for a player for a particular match. Like Xabi has made 74 passes in the derby games, where can I digg it?

  8. November 10, 2010 12:44

    A very nice article, thanks!!! He seems like a perfect match for Real, indeed. Especially with this down-to earth attitude (the world in general needs people with down -to-earth attitude;-)

    I can’t stop myself from commenting this:

    “Cristiano Ronaldo was also very nice; he immediately offered me his help. He advised me on which restaurants I should go to.”

    Gott sei Dank, Sami, that he did not advise you were to shop for clothes like his!!! 😉

  9. Barbara permalink
    November 10, 2010 15:53

    Sami is my favorite player- I’m so glad he has a friend in Spain.
    Thank you for translating the interview–I”m glad he’s getting recognition for his contribution to the team. He sounds so nice.

  10. Tia permalink
    November 10, 2010 16:35

    “Q: How is your Spanish? (He begins to speak broken Spanish)”, aww, Sami! You completely stole my heart! I love how the media has given attention to him so I could get to know him better! Thank you, Una, for posting this. You really are awesome! Btw, how old are you and how do you manage to always write all these articles? Keep it up, okay 😀

  11. November 10, 2010 17:21

    Another brilliant interview! I realy love every word he is saying. And him speaking spanish – man, I would have loved to hear that!! 😀
    Thank you again and again for your effort of translation.
    I have updated the fansite likewise.

  12. Lola permalink
    November 10, 2010 18:10

    I always love Diego Torres’ articles. I think it’s because what he writes is usually supportive and positive, but not biased.
    This a really nice one about Sami. It’s like he and Xabi have been playing together for years, amazing!

  13. LaBlanca permalink
    November 10, 2010 18:36

    just read a bit from an article in kicker I missed before. There Mou was asked in which language he talks to the Germans. He said in English. And if heeded he said, he still would have Karanka who can speak German (now that surprised me! :O)

  14. Siv permalink
    November 11, 2010 01:51

    “(He begins to speak broken Spanish). I try to, but in this moment it’s difficult for me.” that makes me feel better since I started learning spanish not long after he did and feel about the same way. Also this: “The majority of the communication takes place in English. ” pleaseee get some of the players to learn and practice english!!

  15. Sasha Twen permalink
    November 28, 2010 09:10

    Hey. Thanks for translating the first part of this entry. Dude. There are no words for how awesome Sami is. I love the little bit about Germanwings, and his quiet stability. And his v-necks and perfect clavicle dip. Yeah. I am shallow that way.

    (If you’re interested, I recently translated an article about Sami’s younger days that you might find interesting.)

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