Interview

Extra Time With... Ruben Loftus-Cheek

In our feature finding out what the Chelsea players enjoy away from football, Ruben Loftus-Cheek selects another sport, discusses James Bond films, and recalls when he shared a fashion shoot with the president of France’s wife!

He begins with tennis, a game our midfielder enjoys both playing and watching, and like everyone interested in tennis at the moment, he is keen to talk about the new English sensation on the circuit, Emma Raducanu…

Serving is hard!

‘I’ve always liked tennis. I enjoyed playing it at school along with cricket, and I've always watched tennis, but I didn't play for years. Then I got back into it one summer.

‘Two years ago I had a few lessons and now my technique is good and I enjoy playing it. It is an activity away from football and when Wimbledon is on, I try to go as much as I can.

‘I find that upper body strength is not so important in tennis, it's more about technique and how much racket speed you can get with your wrist to top spin the ball.

‘In terms of style of play, I am much more a baseline player than a serve-and-volley one. I am tall but serving is hard, especially directionally. I am quite good at getting it in the service box but can't place it where I want beyond that.

‘I haven’t played tennis with other footballers. I normally play with my two brothers, my cousin and a friend. We play each other a lot, keeping scores, and I am winning! Let’s keep it that way!

‘Because there's a few of us we like to rotate, use two courts and play tiebreakers to 10 points and then move round.’
 

Raducanu’s talent is scary

‘Watching a game at Wimbledon is so different to football. Everyone is so quiet when needed and then the stadium will erupt, but unlike at football where there is clearly two sides in the crowd, tennis fans are appreciating both players. You might want one to win more than the other but you are happy for the other player if they win.

‘Keeping quiet would take a lot of getting used to if you're only used to football. Real football fanatics might not understand the concept, but I love it.

‘The best game I’ve ever seen was in 2008 - Federer versus Nadal at Wimbledon - when Nadal won that long five-setter that went into the night. It was getting hard to see, they didn’t have the roof and lights back then.

‘That was a really good game but I enjoy watching them all, there are some good youngsters coming through, especially in the women’s game. It is enjoyable to watch the different styles of play as well.

‘I think Emma Raducanu is going to be the poster girl of tennis if she keeps going. She’s so talented. I watched the US final against Leylah Fernandes who is a really good player as well. To win it at that age, comfortably, it is quite scary. I am excited to see how her career develops.

‘At that age she maybe doesn't quite realise what she's doing. When you are so young it sometimes doesn’t cross your mind, you are just out there playing.

‘She had that Wimbledon run and then she retired from the game, and everyone had questions about her mentality, but to come off that and then win the US Open, it says everything about her attitude and about her mentally.’

Current Bond a hard act to follow

‘I enjoy watching movies, all types. We travel a lot, I watch them then, so I have seen pretty much everything. I have watched the new James Bond - No Time to Die - I saw it straight away and I enjoyed it. It is a bit sad at the end – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!

‘It is one of my favourite movie franchises, especially with Daniel Craig, so I am sad to see him go. I thought he played the role fantastically but out with the old, in with the new, someone's got to replace him.

‘My favourite Bond movie by far is Casino Royale. I haven't seen the old, old ones but I've seen all the ones with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, and Casino Royale is by far the best. But this latest one is good. It is decent how they bring everything together for the finale. It ranks high.’


Model professional

‘Two years ago I did a fashion photo shoot for Burberry. When they approached me I was flattered. I wanted to try something different, away from football because I was injured at that point and I had a lot of free time, so it was the opportunity to do something new and see how it worked in the fashion world.

‘I went to a few fashion shows and it was a good experience. I'm not too into fashion and the extravagance of it, I am a pretty simple guy, but it was just good to see that and see what models get up to in that job.

‘The head designer was a fantastic guy and so creative, and some of the stuff I modelled and tried on was really nice.

‘I ended up being photographed with Carla Bruni, the wife of the former France president Nicolas Sarkozy. That wasn't planned. You’ll see a picture of me with a big coat on, that was originally the plan, but the French president’s wife was modelling for a shoot at the same time. She was in the other studio to me and I was introduced to her, and they said why don’t we do a shoot together and she was a really nice person.

‘We didn’t speak in French though. Last season I took French lessons for about six months and I plan to carry it on, but it is very hard!’

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