Sami Khedira recently retired from professional football after a glittering career.
The German won a World Cup and was part of the Real Madrid team that won the coveted La Decimatrophy.
Khedira has worked part-time as a pundit and analyst for ESPN and recently took to the airwaves to talk with Gab Marcotti and Julien Lauren on their ESPN FC podcast, The Gab & Jules show.
Among the many topics discussed, Khedira shared several anecdotes on his career at Real Madrid.
Below is a transcript of some of the questions asked and the answers provided by the former German international.
What was it like at Real Madrid?
Khedira: “Going to Madrid was one of the best experiences of my life.
“To meet Jose and to work with him was great. He opened the door to the highest level of football.
“I still remember my first training session at UCLA. He told me our matches would be 90 minutes, so our training would be 90 minutes and all with the ball.
“I thought that was great as it would be easy compared to Germany, where we always run.
“But after the first session, I was dead. After that, it was constant – 10 v 10, 6v6 — no break if the ball goes out.
“I was so tired but happy because we always had the ball. You had to run, and you had to think.
“After that session, we get back to the bus — and he was just two rows ahead of — and he texted me.
“You are a fantastic player. Look at my lineup for tomorrow. You are going to start tomorrow.
“After I got the text, I looked around and saw him looking back at me, smiling.
“He was terrific and gave me so much confidence. He needed me to perform the other geniuses on the pitch. I get goosebumps thinking about it.”
Did you ever expect to play in a UCL final after suffering a significant ACL tear in the same season?
“After the ACL injury, I was not thinking about the Champions League final.
“I had just come back, but Carlo Ancelotti told me I had to play in the final. There was a suspension for Xabi Alonso.
“I told Carlo, ‘C’mon. I may be 60-70% of my level’. And he said, ‘I need you on the pitch.
“A week before the game, I had a shower before training, and Cristiano came in and said, ‘Sami, we need you.’
“I don’t care if you are 70% – we need you on the pitch. You are better than the others. We need you.
“That gave me so much confidence, and it was so special to hear that from Cristiano.”
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