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Interview: We speak to Chelsea Defender Antonio Rudiger

STAR BOY: Antonio Ruddier

ANTONIO RUDIGER, the German international with the same Italian first name as his manager, has wasted no time in settling in to life at Chelsea. Starting in all the Blues Premier League fixtures, Rudiger was at the heart of the defence again on Sunday when he helped keep a clean sheet in Chelsea's 2-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge.

His understanding with David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta in the three man defence with Marco Alonso and Victor Moses adding width has seen some impressive outings from Rudiger, who began his early football as a striker. That was evident in the 80th minute against Everton when the German stormed along the touchline breaking out for a rare surge in attack.

Born in Berlin, Rudiger remembers the place where he honed his skills as a schoolboy, and which would lead to rave reviews of the defender.

" We had a little football cage in the neighbourhood and that's where I started learning playing soccer. All the kids went out, four against four or five against five, and we started playing. We had tournaments. It was competitive - you need to keep everyone motivated and so the loser always had to pay for dinner or something. Nobody wanted to lose," said Rudiger who has a German father Mathias and whose mother Lily is originally from Sierra Leone.

Growing up in Germany life would present its family financial and other challenges, but Rudiger remembers what he describes as " best moment," when he was surprised with a pair of football boots.

" The best moment was when my mother bought me a pair of Nike Mercurial Vapor football boots. I was 12 and I was very happy about it because I know my parents were struggling in those days. We didn't have a lot of money - I'm not ashamed about that, and it was a real "wow" moment for me. Those boots were expensive and still my mother bought them for me because she knew I loved football and, to keep me focused on it, she did that for me. I will never forget this moment."

Rudgier's talent was beginning to be recognised early on, and in 2011, he signed for a Vfb Stuttgart where he spent five years at the Bundesliga side. A move to Serie A side Roma followed and this summer saw Chelsea swoop with a £29 million capture of the 2017 Confederations Cup winner. Settling in to life in London has been easy for the 24 year old who having already enjoyed life away from home, has a simple philosophy when facing new challenges.

" I think, in life, everything is about adapting. When you move to a new position or you come to a new place to live and work, you have to adapt to the new things around you. I've learned that life is about being humble. The most important thing in life is respect. Try to learn as much as possible and follow the rules," says Rudiger who revealed that both Thierry Henry and Jerome Boateng were his favourite players when he was younger.

On the pitch success has been due to hard work acknowledges Rudiger, but he was grateful to the early words of advice from his father. " My father always wanted me to concentrate on school work because you never know. He said football is only temporary so you need to have your qualifications. That was always important to my father."

Rudiger loves to be with his family and has his brother as his agent. " I was always a family guy. I loved to be with my brothers, sisters and cousins. I'm very into the family, that is the most important thing for me."

Chelsea look to have scoured the services of a talented and intelligent player whose respect for the game and those around him will bode well for the Blues as they continue the defence of their Premier League title.

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