Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has revealed how a calm mindset allowed him to deal with the frustration of not playing regular football.
Rudiger, 27, joined Chelsea from Roma in the summer of 2017. The Germany international penned a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge and saw plenty of first-team action.
The rangy stopper made 89 appearances in all competitions across his first two seasons at the club. However, he began to see more bench time in 2019-2020 and was out of the picture completely earlier this campaign.
He has enjoyed eight Premier League appearances this term and started in seven of the last eight. The former Stuttgart man has also played twice in the FA Cup and four times in the Champions League.
And he admits it was tough to cope with being on the peripheries for the first time in his career.
“I’m a competitor, I want to play,” he told Sky Sports. “Obviously it is frustrating and it was the first time in my career that I had this type of situation.
“I just said to myself ‘work, try hard to get back into the first team’. Now I can say I’m receiving the good from the hard work that I did before.”
Rudiger did not complain about his situation earlier in the season. And he has made it clear that at no stage did he consider looking for a way out of west London.
“Inside myself, I was always calm and relaxed, I’ll be very honest,” he added. “I was not going crazy because I was not playing at the beginning and when you’re not in the squad, you think ‘oh wow, what’s happening?’
“But then suddenly I was back in the team and got some games. From that moment on, my head was ‘I’m staying here at Chelsea and trying to fight for my spot’. In the last games of Frank Lampard, I was featuring even more.”
Rudiger enjoying life under Tuchel
The next test comes at home to Newcastle United on Monday night. Rudiger has been impressed by what he has seen of his compatriot to date.
And he feels the Chelsea players are all buying into the former Paris Saint Germain coach’s methods.
“Because of the results, it’s been good,” he continued. “I think the coach knows what he wants. He has a way of playing football and you can see from the games, the players have adapted very quickly to that.”
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