Sami Khedira at Marca
I adore this man.
“You all can see that I’m not injured. Everyone calm down!” Sami Khedira was especially happy yesterday. His ankle sprain was just a scare and he’s perfectly fine for the last stretch of the season.
First of all, how is that ankle?
Good, thanks, I’m good, it was all just a scare. It was a sprain, but I’m perfect.
Were you afraid that it was something more serious?
At first, I was a bit frightened, but I’ve spent many years doing this and I quickly realized that it wasn’t exceptionally serious. When you tear a ligament or have a serious sprain, you know and I noticed that it wasn’t anything serious.
I’m sure Mourinho had a bit of a scare.
A bit… but this has served as a lesson for me. From here, I want to tell Mourinho and the fans that I’m going to be careful. I’m going to return to Madrid healthy so that I can play at the top level, as always. Everyone can calm down.
When the news came out, madridistas filled the social networks with messages of encouragement for you…
Yes, I know. I received many messages. I thank everyone for the concern and affection they showed me.
Do you feel loved by the fans of Real Madrid?
Yes, I really do. I feel it more with each game and that makes me very happy. It’s great to feel the love from the fans and I promise to return it on the field. I give it my all in each game that I play with the Real Madrid shirt.
Do you feel appreciated?
Yes, I do. For me, the most important thing is to feel appreciated by Mourinho and the rest of the coaching staff. They’re the ones that see me work each day and decide who to play. If the fans also value me for my play, fantastic. But the most important thing for me is the recognition of my coaches. I understand perfectly that the spotlight is for Cristiano Ronaldo, Özil and Benzema. It’s normal, they’re the artists. They’re the ones that do scissors kicks, nutmegs, incredible dribbling… but I also work hard so that my effort will count.
Is there any better recognition than to start under Mourinho and Löw?
For me, no. I’m satisfied when I do my job well and when my teammates and coaches are satisfied with me, when they consider me a reliable player. My job is to steal balls, to fight, to help out with defending, to also go up and score if I can. I try to give it my best and sooner or later the results will come. If my play helps the team to win titles, I don’t need anything more. I’m happy.
You’re scoring goals this season. Why do you spend more time in the area now?
When I arrived at Real Madrid, I had a defensive role. That was what the míster wanted during the first season. I was there to defend. With the national team, however, I was always more offensive and Mou realized that. He then redefined my position on the field and now I have more freedom to go to the area and do more things. Everything is done for the good of the team.
Are you in the best moment of your career?
I’m feeling good, but I always believe the best is yet to come. I can say that I have progressed a lot since I arrived at Madrid. I’m a more complete player, but I also believe I have more space to grow.
How do you define yourself as a footballer?
A reliable player, strong and with a great desire to win.
How important has Mou been in your career?
He is playing a decisive role in my career. He’s the one that gave me the opportunity to play in such a big club. I had played well before and during the World Cup and caught the attention of some clubs. But the reality is that it’s not normal for a Stuttgart player to sign for Real Madrid. And in addition, he gave me confidence from the first game. All this is because of Mourinho.
How do you remember your signing with Madrid?
Everything began with a phone call after the World Cup. It was Mourinho. He called me and told me he wanted me to play for Real Madrid. For me, that was incredible. Then we met up to speak face to face and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after two or three minutes we found we understood each other perfectly. He presented an incredible project to me and I accepted. It was that easy (laughs).
Are you a “Mourinhista”?
(Laughs) I’m very happy to play for Mourinho and in Madrid I feel at home.
Can you imagine a Madrid without Mourinho next season?
You never know what will happen, because football is a world where everything goes so fast. I’m one of those who believe that no one is untouchable for a lifetime in a club, because there are always new people coming in. Football is like this and will always be like this. But I have to say that Mourinho has been a fantastic decision for Real Madrid, that his presence is terrific for the club. Mou is a great coach and a great player.
Would you like for him to continue next year?
If that decision were up to me, Mou would stay.
Is playing in the Bernabéu impressive?
I understand that at the beginning it can impress you a bit, especially if you were as young as I was. But from the first day, I ran out onto the Bernabéu field with the idea of showing that I’m a player with value, with great mental strength and one who is prepared to play in Madrid. The Bernabéu is the most beautiful stadium in all of Europe. When you step on the field, you breathe in a legendary football atmosphere. For me, each game in the Bernabéu is a pleasure and an honor.
Was your adaptation to Madrid made easier by the presence of Özil?
We’re close friends and coming in together helped us a lot. We were friends before coming to Madrid, but here we stuck together from the first day and now the friendship is that much deeper. We’re brothers. Inside the locker room, the relationship between everyone is magnificent, but Mesut is more than a friend. In addition, he’s a great player.
Can he be the best in the world?
Mesut is a fantastic player, he’s unique. And I’m not saying that because he’s my friend. Özil is a crack and he can become one of the best in the world as long as he becomes more effective. For me, that’s what he lacks to become one of the best. Why are Cristiano and Messi the best? Because in addition to playing well, they score 50 goals. Özil plays wonderfully and his contributions lead to 30 goals each season. He’s the one who has the most assists, but he lacks the goalscoring. I always tell him, “Mesut, shoot more. You have to be more selfish, to score more goals.” I hope one day he listens to me, because the best thing is that he has an incredible shot.
Can you imagine the two of you spending the rest of your careers with Madrid?
That would be good, no?
Would you like to renew your contract with Madrid right now?
Right now it’s all speculation. If it were the case, it would be fantastic for me. If Madrid offers to renew my contract, it would be a great recognition of my work, but this is not an issue to discuss in an interview. That’s what my agents are for. I prefer to speak about La Décima (laughs).
Okay, let’s talk about La Décima.
We want to win it.
How do you see the games against Galatasaray?
There’s no need to underestimate the rival. They’re in the quarterfinals, they eliminated Schalke, they were in Manchester United’s group, they have great players… here, no one gives anything to you. To move on to the semifinals, we have to play well and win, starting with the game in the Bernabéu, where we have to leave with an advantage.
Would you put Galatasaray at the same level as Manchester?
Yes. We can’t afford to be even a bit less focused if we want to pass to the next round.
Mourinho said Manchester deserved to be in the quarterfinals. Did his statements bother you?
I know why he said it. I read what Sergio Ramos said… well, this is the essence of José Mourinho! He’s capable of saying what he thinks during a moment as intimidating and special as after a game in Old Trafford. I can tell you that Mourinho was as happy as the players were at the end of the game. I also admit that we were a bit lucky, that Modrić’s goal saved our life in Old Trafford.
You were also a key player. In 2007, you won the league for Stuttgart with a goal and you also scored at the Camp Nou last season. Do you dream about scoring the goal to win La Décima?
I also joke that I score the big goals… I don’t even want to think about it. Winning the Champions would be fantastic. When I came to Madrid in 2010, everyone was talking about La Décima and since I didn’t speak any Spanish, I didn’t know what they were talking about. It took a while for me to understand. In Madrid, La Décima is everything, and therefore it’s not important who scores the goal. It would be a dream come true for the club and the fans.
Is La Décima an obsession?
Yes, that is the word. Obsession for La Décima.
And doesn’t that generate more pressure?
Pressure, no. The Champions is not pressure, it’s the objective. In the team, there is a desire to win the Champions. Iker is the only one on the team who has won any of the nine and on the rest of the team only Cristiano and Essien have won it [not exactly correct!], so all of us really want to win it as well.
Would you like a final against Barça?
For the fans, that would be fantastic, we’ll see. But we’re in the quarterfinals, so I can’t speak about that. Madrid-Barça is the clásico of all the clásicos and everyone would be happy to see a Champions League final. But I can’t say that I want this final or that it’s the ideal final because I have the utmost respect for all the teams that are competing.
How can you explain Madrid’s irregular season?
It’s difficult to pinpoint what has happened. We started off very poorly. But at the beginning of this year we began to remember our strong points, and to play as a real team, to not let the goals we allowed get the best of us. We also put aside our little vanities and now we are a real team once again. If you’re not a team, you can’t beat Barcelona twice and eliminate Manchester. Now I can say that Madrid has become a real team again and you can tell by the way we play.
Is this Madrid at the same level as last season’s team?
I believe that right now we are on a good road. We have recovered the sensations of last season and now we have a winning dynamic that is making us stronger. Football changes very quickly, but I also believe that we have learned from our mistakes and now we can be a more competitive team.
Twelve personal questions.
1. An ideal place to go on vacation? I always choose one that has sun, beaches and the sea. To rest, that’s ideal.
2. Your favorite place in Madrid? I have many, but I would say Retiro Park.
3. Your status on Whatsapp? I don’t have anything special. I have “I’m in Madrid.”
4. Your favorite food? Italian cuisine is what I like best. And I’m a bad cook.
5. The last movie you saw in the cinema and your favorite one? The last one, Argo. My favorite is La Ley de la Venganza.
6. Your best and worst qualities? My willpower and my lack of patience.
7. What do you have for breakfast? Orange juice, eggs and some bread.
8. If you weren’t a footballer… I believe I would have studied physical therapy. I like the sciences related to the human body a lot.
9. How many tattoos do you have? Although it may seem strange, none. I don’t even have one.
10. What other sports do you like? I love playing padel and watching tennis.
11. What music do you like? R&B, a bit of everything.
12. How many traffic tickets have you received? None for speeding, but for parking badly, quite a few.