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The making of Rudiger

The latest edition of Chelsea magazine features an exclusive interview with Toni Rudiger, who reveals his back story of growing up in Berlin and how he is constantly adapting.

It may seem strange now, having seen the German international excelling as a centre-back for club and country, but when he first started playing football Rudiger was very much a striker, and even initially resented being moved back into defence as a youth player.

However, he took to his new role with his usual determination and soon adapted to the position, winning plaudits from around Germany for his early performances there.

'At first, it was something completely different to play in defence,' Rudiger tells Chelsea. 'I think it’s more responsibility to play there because, at the end of the day, if you concede there’s always the defenders to blame.

'But I’m not afraid to make mistakes and keep going – that’s not a big deal. Mistakes happen and you just have to go on. It’s just about learning quickly what the coach wants and then trying to do that in a good way. I always have to move forward in life.'

Move forward he has, coming from a poor area of the German capital to Premier League stardom, but that upbringing has contributed to making him the man and player he is today.

'I grew up in an area with a lot of refugees,' he explains. 'There was a real mix of people, but normally not many German people, more foreigners. It was tough because, in those types of places, everyone has their own mind, way of thinking, their own culture. That’s a good thing as well because now I’m open to every culture.

'But sports, in general, bring people together. There, you speak one language, and from my point of view it was football that did that. We had a little football cage in the neighbourhood and that’s where I started playing. All the kids went out there and we had tournaments, it was competitive – you had a lot of skilful guys there and it was always interesting.'

Having adapted to so much in the past, it is no surprise that he has had no problem settling into a new style of play since the arrival of a new head coach in the summer. His attributes have helped in that process at Chelsea, just as they did at his previous clubs.

'Maurizio Sarri likes to have a bit of possession as well, but this kind of football, pushing up and attacking – I like that, because I have the abilities to do that. I have the speed to get back.'

However, despite his assured performances on the pitch and confident demeanour off it, he admits it did take him a little time to come out of his shell when he joined the Blues.

'If I know people and I’m with them every day, it’s different, then I’m myself, but if I’m somewhere new then I’m shy, yes. Then, slowly, slowly you get in touch with people and then you will be fine. Now I feel good, I like it here.'

Deadly Doug

Eighties cult hero hard man Doug Rougvie remembers his time at Chelsea, and considers why he remains so popular with the Blues supporters from that era. He also explains why he took the decision to end his highly successful time at Aberdeen to cross the border to England, as well as reliving some of his best moments at the Bridge.

The entertainer

The latest Chelsea legend to have his career profiled in photographical form, from Start to Finish, is charismatic winger Pat Nevin. Wee Pat, as the Scottish international was affectionately known during his playing days, was one of the most popular members of the side which won promotion back to the top flight in 1984 and lifted the Full Members Cup at Wembley two years later.

Devilish delight

In anticipation of Manchester United's visit to Stamford Bridge later this month, there is a close look at 10 of the best performances by a Chelsea player against the Red Devils over the years, from Fifties hat-trick hero Seamus O'Connell to the tireless N'Golo Kante.

What else?

There is plenty more in the latest edition of Chelsea, including exclusive interviews with new Chelsea Women captain Karen Carney and Academy midfielder Clinton Mola.

You can also read about two significant seasons from the past on their anniversaries – our first-ever European campaign in the 1958 Fairs Cup, and arguably our most serious title challenge for over four decades in 1998/99.

For all this and much more purchase the latest edition of Chelsea, which is available now at the Stamford Bridge Megastore and all good newsagents, priced £3.95.

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