Antonio Rudiger joined Chelsea from Italian side Roma on 9 July 2017. He signed a five-year contract.
A tough tackler, Rudiger is quick on his feet and a commanding presence in the air. Despite having spent most of his career playing in central defence, he is equally comfortable at full-back.
He came on as a substitute for Chelsea in the Community Shield against Arsenal in August and made his full debut the following weekend in a home game against Burnley. He continued to be used regularly by Antonio Conte in the first half of the season, both on the left and on the right of a back-three defence.
Rudiger scored his first Chelsea goal in a Carabao Cup win over Everton in October and his first in the Premier League was the only goal of the game when Swansea were defeated at Stamford Bridge the following month (below). Another headed goal followed in a big win over Stoke in the last game of 2017, but the German did have the misfortune of being involved in two deflections that majorly contributed to Arsenal knocking us out of the Carabao Cup at the semi-final stage.
He had better luck in the FA Cup, which ended with a win at Wembley and Rudiger being named the man of the match for a solid showing on the left of the back three. It was a position he made his own for the closing months of a good first campaign at Chelsea.
Rudiger played the majority of the campaign in the heart of a back four alongside David Luiz. He was a standout performer under Maurizio Sarri until a serious knee injury sustained in April brought his season to a premature close. He scored his only goal of the season against Manchester United, powering home the opening goal in a 2-2 draw.
Despite his injury he still started 44 games in all competitions for the Blues and was the sixth-highest player in terms of minutes spent on the pitch. He was in Baku to celebrate with his team-mates following our emphatic Europa League final victory over Arsenal, which helped atone for the Carabao Cup final shoot-out loss to Man City three months prior when Rudiger had excelled.
His return from injury was delayed after a couple of setbacks and a 45-minute appearance at Molineux in September. Having been passed fit, he was back in the side for the decisive Champions League win over Lille in December. By the end of the month he had regained fitness and form, featuring regularly for Frank Lampard’s side in the heart of the defence in the early stages of 2020.
Having played just 45 minutes of our first 24 matches of the season because if injury, he missed just one league game between his return and the suspension of football in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. His nous and determination was especially valuable for the Blues at the start of February, when he scored two headers to give us a valuable point against top-four rivals Leicester City on his 100th Chelsea appearance (pictured celebrating below).
He kept his place in the line-up when sport resumed in the summer, his pace and awareness forming a key part of our defence, whether as part of a back four or three centre-backs, including in our FA Cup quarter-final, semi-final and final.
With Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma the preferred centre-back partnership, chances in the line-up were restricted for Rudiger during the opening months of the campaign, making just two Premier League appearances by the turn of the year. However, he featured more often in the Champions League, appearing in four of our six matches as we comfortably qualified top of Group E.
Almost overnight, Rudiger’s situation went from bit-part player to near ever-present, first being recalled by Frank Lampard in an attempt to halt our slide and then starting all but four league games under Thomas Tuchel until the end of the season.
His pace, excellent positional sense and refusal to back down or accept defeat played an important part as we conceded just two goals in 14 games at the start of our new head coach’s reign, even if one of those two was a Rudiger own-goal after a mix-up with Edouard Mendy.
All the attributes which made him so important to our excellent defensive record were summed up by one brilliant tackle in our Champions League final win, coming from nowhere to dive in at the last minute and prevent what seemed like a certain goal by Manchester City’s Phil Foden.
He also showed a desire to get on the ball and make things happen, as well as the occasional charge forward out of defence, which resulted in him exerting an influence at the other end of the pitch too. It was Rudiger’s brilliant ball over the top which released Christian Pulisic to score our away goal at Real Madrid in the first leg of our Champions League semi-final victory, and the German netted his only goal of the season at a crucial time, opening the scoring in the 2-1 win against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge which proved decisive to securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Born in Berlin, Rudiger spent time in the youth set-up at Borussia Dortmund before moving to Stuttgart. He made his Stuttgart debut in a 2012 game against Borussia Monchengladbach at the age of 18, and firmly established himself as a first-team regular during the 2013/14 campaign.
In 2015 he moved to Roma, initially on loan, and after a successful maiden season in Serie A the deal was made permanent and he arrived at Stamford Bridge having acquired European experience in both the Champions League and Europa League.
He featured frequently for Germany at youth international level and made his debut for the senior side in a friendly against Poland in May 2014.
Having been called up to the reigning world champions’ Euro 2016 squad, Rudiger subsequently missed the tournament through injury but he was a key performer in their 2017 Confederations Cup victory in Russia. He was part of the defence which kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Chile in the final.
In November 2017 he played for Germany at Wembley against England in a friendly international which finished goalless. He was named in the 2018 Germany World Cup squad and started one game, their 2-1 win over Sweden, as the holders suffered a disappointing group-stage exit from the competition.
Rudiger became increasingly influential in the side during 2020, starting every game he was available for that year. After being named in the Germany squad for the delayed Euro 2020, he played every minute of his country's campaign at that tournament, helping them to a memorable 4-2 group stage victory over holders Portugal before being eliminated by England in the last 16.
- 5 APPEARANCES
- 450 MINUTES PLAYED
- 5 GAMES STARTED
- 1 GOALS
0 ASSISTS 1 CROSSES 1 CHANCES CREATED
60%TACKLE SUCCESS 5 TOTAL TACKLES 3 TACKLES WON