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Sami Khedira at Welt Online

January 5, 2011

Reader Julia has translated and sent in this lovely interview with Sami Khedira from the online version of newspaper Welt (read the original here).  It appears that the German press (the Spanish press is also guilty of this) is extremely curious about the lives of these two alemanes in Madrid, no?  Especially how they deal with the language issue.  They always get asked about these things right in the beginning of any interview.  The second-most asked about topic?  José Mourinho.

Q:  How do you handle the mentality of the Spanish?

A:  In the beginning, it was an adjustment. I don’t know if it’s due to José Mourinho’s methods, but there were changes with what I was used to. In Madrid, you have a lot of free time but in the end you are your own boss. I have to know what I need to eat and drink before a game to trigger the best effect five hours later. I have to know if I want to go out in the evening. The way of working is different. It is relaxation paired with meticulousness. When we train, we concentrate from beginning to end.

Q:  How did your acclimatization process go?

A:  At first I had Rafael van der Vaart to talk to. He really helped me, especially with the authorities. After that it went step by step, from talks on the bus, when we were driving to an away game, to talks on the airplane.

Q: Your coach criticized you and Özil in August. He said you hadn’t integrated and you’d have communication problems.

A:  He told me right after that he never said it like that.  There’s no human being that can learn and speak a new language in three weeks. I’m fully integrated now.  My games helped me to earn the respect of my teammates. They saw that I really wanted to fit in, both mentally and with football. I think I made them recognize that.

Q:  How are your Spanish language skills?

A:  In the beginning, I had a teacher but that didn’t work. Then I hired a German company that offers intensive language training. I’m still doing that. I don’t have an urgent need to speak Spanish because we mostly speak English at Madrid. But the learning helps my progression and is a matter of respect towards the people in Spain. I’m not just here to earn money.  [I love this attitude!!!]

Q:  Do you go out?

A: Sometimes I have visitors and they want to go out, of course. It’s not a problem for me. And if I wear a cap it can be quite comfortable.

Q: A cap to remain anonymous?

A: Yes.  [Well there you have it – look under caps to find Sami.]

Q:  What is your impression of Madrid?

A: Madrid is multicultural, beautiful and loud, but very sincere, too. The city has a lot of charm because of the historical buildings, but can be very scary because of the big crowds and tall buildings [come on, Madrid has like five tall buildings].

Q:  Your coach José Mourinho is called “the Special One.” How extroverted is he really?

A:  He is special when it comes to his behavior towards people. He isn’t just interested in the footballer, but in the person itself. This is very important for me. We earn a lot of money, but you shouldn’t forget that we are human beings, not machines. Every human needs affection and interaction; it’s important. He’s there for each of us. No matter if it’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is untouchable, or a player who doesn’t play much. He treats everyone the same. He is capable of putting his trust into each single one. He’s always honest and always down for a joke. I’ve never seen someone preparing a game so meticulously. Every opponent is analyzed to the smallest detail. He gives us confidence. I trust him blindly.

Q:  Does he ever call you?

A:  Yes. When I was sanctioned and I went to Munich for treatment, he called me and asked about my condition. Whenever we have two or three days off, he sends text messages and asks how our vacation is going. After international games he’s one of the first that I receive a message from. I don’t think it is usual for the position he is in. This is impressive and makes me feel very good.

Q:  Mourinho often protects his team, for example after the historical 0-5 against Barcelona.

A:  Internally he criticized us. But he wanted to build up our self-confidence again, which worked, because otherwise you couldn’t beat Valencia 2-0 four days later.

Q:  The gathering of 20 top players leads to a permanent competition in training sessions. How do you handle the pressure?

A:  Every training session is a new challenge. You can play 10 or 12 good games at Madrid, but when you don’t do well, there’s always someone else aiming for your starting position. This motivates. I know that I have to be at 100% to have the chance to be part of the starting 11. I can see it for my position. Lass Diarra is a top player, I really like him. But I have to fight him and to be better than him if I want to play. Because of this motivating factor, we all have to keep on progressing.

Q:  The Bernabéu loves to watch offensive football. How are you able to handle that as a defensive midfielder?

A:  It may sound weird and can be misunderstood: I don’t play for the audience or to win a prize for playing the most beautiful football. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I won several titles by the time I was 23. I know what I have to do on the field and what my coach wants me to do to be successful. Of course, the creative players are important. But they’re only able to work if they’ve got others behind them, who take care of the system and their safety. They don’t play spectacularly, but they are important.

Q:  Does a team full of stars ever go out together?

A: Every two months, after a morning training session, we go out to eat. Iker Casillas or Sergio Ramos chooses a restaurant and we go with our physiotherapists, kit managers and kitchen help. We sit and talk and eat for four or five hours.

Q:  And who pays?

A:  Each time it’s different, and so far it hasn’t been my turn (laughs). But I think in 2011 it’ll be my turn to pay. Sergio Ramos just said that Mesut and I will have to pay soon. We will be pleased to do it.  And we’ll survive.

Q: Cristiano Ronaldo is a teammate that polarizes like no other. What do you think of him?

A:  Honestly? I admire him!

Q:  Why?

A:  I admire him for how he handles his status and how hard he is on himself. He’s won everything you can win with a club, but he still wants to improve. He does something for his fitness everyday and practices the things that he has already mastered. I talk to him very often and I was astonished when he told me that he doesn’t party or drink alcohol during the season. This is really strange, because his public image is completely different. He knows what he wants and loves life with his family. He was one of the first players to offer help and to tell me what to be careful with.

Q:  What did he mean?

A:  Madrid is a very, very big city, which is very, very seductive when it comes to going out. Of course, you play at the biggest club in the world. Some people might want to be a part of that; we players know that. There are people who wait for any mistakes we make, who don’t have good things in mind. That’s what he told me.

Q:  Is Madrid going to win the Liga?

A:  We are only two points behind Barcelona, which isn’t much. I’m convinced we will win the Liga!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. PepperPots permalink
    January 5, 2011 11:38

    Well, this is CLASS!

  2. IsaBella permalink
    January 5, 2011 11:41

    Thank you Julia for translation and thanks Una for posting the interview. The part about Cristiano made me laugh my heart out 😀

  3. Laura permalink
    January 5, 2011 11:44

    [come on, Madrid has like five tall buildings]

    More than Stuttgart.
    No, just kidding ; )

    I have read the interview a few days ago and really liked it. I like the way he talks about Mourinho, Ronaldo and his teammates.
    He’s very down to earth and has a great attitude. This is something I really appreciate on him. I hope he continues his performances in 2011.

  4. Ebrahim permalink
    January 5, 2011 13:52

    Firstly thanks to whoever translated this, thanks to una for posting it!

    JM is special, how time consuming must it be to sms every squad player? There’s a reason he is the highest paid coach in the work because hes work ethic is unrivaled.

    Smai’s comments on CR had me tearing up!
    You know I hardly believe rumors related to him. I admire his work ethic and dedication!
    I am quite a fitness addict and my body shows it, but people do not realize the dedication i have to this, the sleeping, the eating, the time put aside. I was a anorexic kid and i have changed my built so drastically people do not recognize me because i look like a have a naturally bigger built.

    No partying or alcohol, CR deserves great recognition for this but few people understand the sacrifices made. One penny at a time and watch teh jare slowly fill up.

  5. Kat permalink
    January 5, 2011 14:18

    This interview made me like Khedira so much more! Particularly, I like the parts about the team dinner and who pays,. And the part about Ronaldo was surprising, about him not drinking, as Khedira mentioned, this is so different from his public image, and lecturing Khedira about the “temptations” of Madrid.

    And Mou! Who knew he was so sweet to his players! Checking up on them when they’re on break, when they’re injured (although I suppose the latter is part of his job as coach). I never would’ve thought!

    http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com

  6. Deb permalink
    January 5, 2011 14:46

    ‘[come on, Madrid has like five tall buildings]’

    I can understand why Sami thinks Madrid is scary. I was the same way after moving from a lot smaller county in Michigan to the Chicagoland area. So many people, so easy to get turned around, particularly downtown where all you see when you look up is skyscrapers. It does get easier, Sami. I promise! lol

    A cap to remain anonymous?

    A: Yes. [Well there you have it – look under caps to find Sami.]

    Or maybe so people don’t confuse you with Sergio, Sami, and hound you on the streets? hehehehe

    ‘No matter if it’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is untouchable’ <–and I'm sure he meant that in the most positive way. :p

    "He is special when it comes to his behavior towards people. He isn’t just interested in the footballer, but in the person itself. This is very important for me. We earn a lot of money, but you shouldn’t forget that we are human beings, not machines. "

    And this is why Mou's players seem to love him wherever he coaches. And bravo to Sami for saying it so eloquently.

    I am more and more impressed with Sami the more I read about him. I liked him as a player, since I saw him in the WC but seeing more about him as a person makes me like him even more.

    Also, as much as the media tries to create divisions between Cris and his teammates, it seems that he really is a great teammate to them, especially the younger guys.

    Thanks for translating this Julia and thanks for post it Una.

    • IsaBella permalink
      January 5, 2011 15:48

      Deb we have more and more in common 🙂 I also got to know sami during the World Cup and I immediately liked him 🙂

  7. amouria permalink
    January 5, 2011 16:51

    SAMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII…………..you are so cute….and intelligent for your age…i send you plenty of hugs

  8. canederli permalink
    January 5, 2011 18:33

    I have nothing but love for this man. He’s humble, well grounded, intelligent, funny. He’s just class personified. His interviews are always a delight to read. I love his comments about Mou and Cris. Thanks so much for posting this Una and for the great translation, Julia!

  9. Laura permalink
    January 5, 2011 19:51

    Awwww, I love Sami so much!! He seems like a good boy. I hope he listens to Cron’s advice about making good lifestyle choices! Although it seems funny to be saying that 😉

    I wish I could find articles about Raul where they ask him how he’s progressing learning German!!

  10. realmadrid23 permalink
    January 5, 2011 22:28

    I have been amazed at Mesuts and Sami’s personalities. For Germans, they’re quite open and willing to talk about anything and they’re very honest. They’re good conversationalists and they have good philosophy in leading their lives. Surprising that out of all people, Sami and Mesut get along good with Cristiano, eh?

    • IsaBella permalink
      January 6, 2011 00:02

      I guess it’s because you always tend to like more what is different and unknown 🙂 meaning Cristiano with Sami and Mesut 🙂

    • Paul Galactico permalink
      January 7, 2011 05:01

      Maybe it’s because Sami and Mesut are, respectively, Tunisian-German and Turkish-German. Perhaps the addition of being a multi-cultural German allows them to have a distinct upbringing and view of life that allows them to be more humble and down to earth…

      I echo the first statement. This interview is first CLASS.

      So glad Real Madrid is acquiring class gentlemen. Sami seems to fit the Real Madrid image in professionalism. 🙂

    • Sasha Twen permalink
      January 7, 2011 13:14

      While I do think their multicultual background plays a big role in the humility they bring to the football field, I also see this tendency in most younger members of the German NT. Thomas Müller is a very down-to-earth guy in interviews although he has been catapulted to fame. I am still amazed at Mario Gomez’ gentle tone of voice whenever I hear him speak, because you don’t really expect it from a chiseled guy like him. Old timers like Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich are very soft-spoken and eloquent in interviews, as is Philipp Lahm, especially compared to Michael Ballack’s style of captaincy. I guess a lot of people still have the German team from 8 years ago in mind when they make character judgements. The in-team atmosphere has changed a lot since then. 🙂

  11. ulong permalink
    January 6, 2011 01:32

    now I know my team better…Thanks Sami, Una and of course Julia for the translate 🙂

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