Former Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has revealed how he would wind people up on purpose in an attempt to ‘wake up’ fans at Stamford Bridge.
The German was in an honest mood as he discussed his style of play and his summer transfer from the Blues to Real Madrid in a recent interview during the international break.
Rudiger went from being unwanted under Frank Lampard to one of the first names on the team sheet following Thomas Tuchel’s appointment in west London, but soured his relationship with supporters by jumping ship to Spain this summer.
The 29-year-old failed to sign a new deal with Chelsea and left on a free transfer at the end of his contract, eventually moving to the Bernabeu to join the Champions League winners.
And he has now risked making his relationship with his former fans even more bitter by admitting he sometimes deliberately had a laugh on the pitch to get a reaction from the stands, saying supporters were ‘too quiet’ at times.
One of those times, Rudiger revealed, was during Chelsea’s 1-0 triumph over Newcastle United in the Premier League last season – where Kai Havertz delivered a dramatic victory with an 89th minute winner.
“I’ll be honest: I deliberately wound people up because it was just too quiet in the stadium for me during this game,” Rudiger said in an interview with German outlet Sport1.
“I wanted to wake people up with it.”
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It appears there was more to Rudiger’s antics, though, as the Germany international explained how he loves winding up opposition players, too.
“I like to analyse my opponents and think to myself: ‘Okay, let’s see how they react if I provoke them a bit’,” he said.
“But it’s not like I pick someone before every game. That happens spontaneously.
“I also love and need the mind games and the trash talk with my opponents, it’s just fun for me.”
Rudiger spent five years at Chelsea, where the centre-back lifted the Champions League and Europa League titles, FA Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.
His best days came under fellow German Tuchel, with the pair developing a special bond during their time together at Stamford Bridge.
That bond was not enough to convince Rudiger to stay and sign another deal with the Blues, but it appears Rudiger made the right call after Tuchel himself was axed by the ruthless club earlier this month.
It was a decision that surprised Rudiger, especially after a summer transfer window where the manager was given £270million to strengthen his team, and he revealed he sent a message to Tuchel following his Chelsea exit.
“First they let him get new players, only to then let him go after a few games,” he said.
“I was surprised at the speed. The day of his release was a sad one for me. I wrote to him afterwards and thanked him again for everything. He was there for everyone, not just me.
“If you look at where we came from and where he took us, he did the impossible.
“But you know how it is in football. Sometimes you’re the hero, sometimes the bogeyman.
“The football business is very changeable, doors open and close quickly. Believe in yourself and have people who believe in you – that’s what matters in the end.
“At Chelsea I had to learn it the hard way. I was always ready to play and luckily with Thomas Tuchel a coach came along who put his faith in me and showed me that I was an important player for him.”
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