Antonio Rudiger has hailed ex-Real Madrid defender Pepe and revealed the Portuguese is his role model.
Pepe, 39, spent a decade at the Santiago Bernabeu after joining them from FC Porto in 2007. He formed a ruthless centre-back duo with Sergio Ramos and was known for his aggressive defending.
The Portuguese have helped Los Blancos win three Champions League trophies and three La Liga titles, among other accolades. The current Porto centre-back made 334 appearances for the Spanish club before joining Besiktas in 2017.
In a recent interview with Sport1, Rudiger shared that he admires Pepe and once waited a long time to get his shirt. The German says:
“It’s true. I immediately have to think of Pepe. He was my great role model at Real Madrid, I always wanted to be like him.
“I used to watch videos of him riding his opponents. I was still young and I wanted to show everyone that I can be tough too. It was in my head.”
“It’s crazy how good Pepe was. Not just in a duel, but also in the structure of the game. Today, however, everyone at Real tells me that he was actually a very calm character outside of the game. land. And guess what?
“He’s the only player I’ve waited an hour for for his shirt. Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Thiago Silva are the three player names I’m most proud of in my shirt collection. Absolute legends !”
Rudiger, 29, joined Real Madrid earlier this summer on a free transfer after his contract with Chelsea expired. He has made nine appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos so far.
Antonio Rudiger shares the pressure to win at Real Madrid
Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs in world football, having won 95 trophies, including a record 35 La Liga titles and 14 Champions League titles.
Any player who joins the club has to help them win trophies, which can put some players under pressure. Rudiger spoke about it in his aforementioned interview with Sport1, saying:
“The strength of the club is enormous. As a foreigner you can pretty much imagine it, but to experience it yourself is something completely different. Here it’s about winning. It’s not there is no other option.
“When I watch guys like Luka, Toni or Karim – they are so deeply relaxed, for them even a final is the most normal thing in the world.”
Real Madrid are the only club in Europe’s top five leagues to have won all of their matches so far this season. They will then be in action at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga against Osasuna on October 2.