the understated star
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!