Feature: Chelsea's worrier Rudiger a stroke of luck for Low
By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Talking about life's twists and turns, one might not find a better witness than Antonio Rudiger.
Ahead of Germany's UEFA Euro 2020 opener against France next Tuesday, the Chelsea defender has developed into one of football's best in only a few months, surviving a significant career low that nearly made him leave his English club.
Regaining his starting eleven place after Thomas Tuchel took over in January 2021, Rudiger helped Chelsea win this season's UEFA Champions League and has increased Joachim Low's options.
With Rudiger taking the job next to returnee Mats Hummels, Low has not only solved his defensive problems but has also gained an additional leading force.
Observing the defender in his squad's training sessions, various roles come to light and draw a picture of Rudiger's development over the past years, entering a world-class level.
The shy youngster left VfB Stuttgart in 2015 at the age of 22, joining AS Roma, his first side abroad. "Stepping out of the Bundesliga made me grow up fast," he said. Going through hard times in London has delivered the last part.
Meanwhile, he has turned into the national team's pushing force aside from his entertaining qualities, increasing the team's spirit, not to mention his expertise when delivering music for the locker room.
"To communicate and deliver motivation comes naturally for me," he said, adding that Tuchel's trust made him flourish. No less important seems his relationship with Low.
"We have a unique relationship on a human level. Therefore, everyone can understand that I am determined to create a successful farewell for him," Rudiger said about his national team coach, who is departing after the Euros.
Rudiger's on-pitch appearance comes with his desire for man-to-man duels and game-opening skills. "It makes the team feel calm having a worrier like him around. He is always going beyond his borders," striker and Chelsea teammate Timo Werner stated.
Rudiger is talking about not only wanting to cover spaces in the back but also supporting the attacking game. "It's about leading the team from the back. That's my game," he said.
Two incidences might tell the story of the Germans' robustness.
First, in the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid in May, Rudiger suffered a facial fracture and had to wear a face mask. Then, in the final, he collided with Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered a similar injury.
Taking a look at the duel against France, the German shows part of his self-confidence. "They can be the favorites; I don't mind. It's on us to turn things around. We have to set a sign early in the game and say we can't be easily pushed around."
The Chelsea defender admitted that the latest developments in his private life might have influenced his sporting career.
A year after the birth of his son, the 28-year-old and his wife Laura announced the birth of a daughter in June 2021.
"Life's deeper meaning comes to your mind hugging your children," Rudiger commented, filled with a father's pride. Enditem