Rüdiger: ‘Madrid or nothing’ after leaving Chelsea

Paul White

PA

While still at Chelsea, Antonio Rüdiger experienced firsthand what it was like to be a Real Madrid player.

He was on the losing end as Madrid pulled off one of their stunning Champions League comebacks that culminated in their 14th extended European title this season.

Rüdiger said his experience at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in that quarter-final loss made his decision to join the Spanish powerhouse easier.

“The game I played with Chelsea at the Bernabéu was special, so intense,” the centre-back said during his official presentation in Madrid on Monday.

“It was the first time I played at the Santiago Bernabéu,” he said. “It was an incredible feeling for me. After the third goal (for Chelsea) there was still a really positive vibe. I took away incredible feelings and to have the chance to play for a club like this is incredible. .

Madrid were down 3-0 in this second leg of the quarter-finals against Chelsea, Rüdiger scoring one of the goals, but the hosts rallied and still advanced.

“I just wouldn’t know how to describe what Real Madrid have achieved in the Champions League this year,” Rüdiger said. “It was amazing. Obviously, at the time of the final, I knew that I was going to play for Real Madrid. I was right behind them and was thrilled when they won it. Next year I want to continue to compete for more titles.

Rüdiger, 29, said Madrid’s arch-rivals Barcelona had shown interest in signing him but it was ‘Madrid or nothing’.

“The first contact between Real Madrid and my agent came in September last year,” he said. “The second time I spoke to (coach Carlo) Ancelotti himself was in April. My contact with him was the most important moment and that’s when I made the decision to join this club. He told me that he wanted me here, that he trusted me and that I could really help the team.

Madrid signed a four-year contract with the Germany international, who helped Chelsea win titles in the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup. He scored five goals in 54 appearances for Chelsea last season, a record for him with the club.

Rüdiger made his Bundesliga debut with Stuttgart at the age of 18 before joining Roma in 2015 and eventually Chelsea in 2017.

Rüdiger said his idols at Madrid include former Brazilian great Ronaldo and fellow centre-back Pepe.

“(Pepe) has attributes that I love. And off the pitch, from what I’ve seen, he’s a good guy, but on the pitch he’s a monster,” Rüdiger said. .

Madrid signed defender David Alaba last year to make up for the absence of veteran Sergio Ramos, who joined Paris Saint-Germain. Alaba started the Champions League final against Liverpool alongside Éder Militão. Nacho Fernández also played in central defense if necessary.

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Naomi C. Amerson