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Sami Khedira:“Cristiano is not the arrogant, aloof and distant superstar”

Sami Kehdira for GQ Germany - my translation -

“Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon.

A footballer, who will be talked about for generations, because he has been doing extraordinary things and breaking records for years.

People will always remember Cristiano Ronaldo. Because of his class and, of course, because of his egocentricity. But as a human being he is special, in the best sense.

I was 23 years old when I moved from VfB Stuttgart to Real Madrid. Everything was exciting. Suddenly I was at the most prestigious club in the world. At first I felt like a little boy in a dream world.

I arrived there and only had this public image of Cristiano in my mind. The image of an arrogant, unapproachable and cool show-off.

Until that day I only knew him from TV. We had never played against each other before, our paths had never crossed.
I sat in the team bus; I think it was the first official training with the entire team when we met for the first time. I was new, not an experienced player, so I was very shy and quiet. Cristiano entered the bus, came right up to me and greeted me with a handshake.

He welcomed me warmly and offered his support: If I had any questions or needed help, he said, I should address him at any time.

I thought: Wow! What a cool guy! I would never have expected that on my first day of any player and least of Cristiano Ronaldo. A positive surprise! And so it went on during the next days, months and years.

Cristiano is a workhorse, who subordinates everything to his ambition and success.

If he doesn’t get the ball or loses in the 3-a-side training matches, he can become very unpleasant. Even if the game is about ball possession and we don’t shoot at the goal and his team loses the ball, he loses his cool quickly. I noticed that because we often played in the same team during training sessions.

Cristiano is not that arrogant, aloof and distant superstar.

But he is a superstar, who doesn’t want to lose even in the smallest competition, who just cannot lose.

And therefore, he controls every tiny detail and goads himself and his teammates to perfection.

All players at this level do extra work on the pitch, in the gym or work on the perfect diet and regeneration. In this aspect, Cristiano is not more obsessed and more professional than others. But he was almost always one of the first in the dressing room and left the installatons as one of the last.

Since he was sitting near me in the dressing room and speaks a perfect English, we talked a lot together. So one day he told me that he had just moved out of his house for six months. The reason was that he completely redesigned a part of his home: he had the training rooms of Real Madrid reproduced as exactly as possible! The gym, the regeneration area, that is, the sauna, the cold water pool, the pool …

He wanted to have all the training facilities at home, exactly as he knew it from the Real Madrid training center, so that he could train by himself at identical conditions.

At that time, when I was only 23 years old, this was incomprehensible to me, but in hindsight it is just impressive.

Cristiano does not leave anything to chance and invests in his fitness and his body. Just in what made him a superstar.”