MADRID ( Associated Press) — Antonio Rudiger felt like being the first Real Madrid player while he was still at Chelsea.
It was his turn to lose as Madrid returned several times to the Champions League, culminating in their 14th convocation this season.
Rudiger said his experience of a quarter-final loss at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium made the decision to sign for the Spanish club easier.
“The game I played with Chelsea at the Bernabeu was very special, very intense,” recalled the German central defender when he was presented by Madrid on Monday.
“For me it was the first time I played at the Santiago Bernabeu”, he said. “Those were incredible feelings for me. Even after the third goal (by Chelsea), there was a lot of positive atmosphere and atmosphere. I have great feelings and it’s incredible to be able to play for a club like this now.”
Madrid went down 3–0 against the English team in the second leg of the quarter-finals, with Rudiger scoring a goal. But the hosts reacted moving forward.
“I don’t know how to describe what Real Madrid achieved in the Champions League this year,” said the 29-year-old centre-back. “It’s been incredible. Obviously, when the final was played, I already knew I was going to play for Real Madrid. I went with them and I thought they could win… Next year I want to continue competing for more titles.”
Rudiger noted that Barcelona, Meringues fanatics, showed interest in signing him, but told his brother that it was to play with “Madrid or “none”.
“The first contact between Madrid and my agent was in September last year,” he said. “The second time I spoke directly with (coach Carlo) Ancelotti was in April. My contact with him was the most important moment and it was here that I decided to play for this club. He told me that he wanted me here, that he trusted me and that I could be of great help to the team.
Madrid signed a four-year contract with the German international. Rudiger won the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup titles with Chelsea. He scored five goals in 54 appearances for Chelsea last season, a record for the London club.
Rudiger made his Bundesliga debut for Stuttgart at the age of 18. He moved to Roma in 2015 and then to Chelsea in 2017.
He mentioned that his idols in Madrid are Brazilian Ronaldo and Portuguese centre-back Pepe. “It has some features that I like,” he said of Pepe. “And off the pitch, as far as I know, he’s a good person, and on the pitch he’s a monster.”
Madrid signed Austrian defender David Alaba last year to cover the departure of historic captain Sergio Ramos, who signed with Paris Saint-Germain. Alaba and Brazilian Eder Militao formed the central pair in the European final against Liverpool. Alaba can play as a left back or as a midfielder. Nacho Fernandez is the other centre-back in the team.
“It is already known that there will be competition in Madrid, but I am ready to fight for my place,” said Rudiger.