„There is no place for fearful thinking“
About half a year he was injured. Cruciate ligament rupture. Sami Khedira has won the race against time and is now in the squad of the German National Team for the World Cup. For the first time after his Comeback he talks about his time of suffering, his aims and the plan for the World Cup Title.
kicker: Winner of the Champions League! How does that feel?
Sami Khedira : It feels good, but I still can not believe it. During the two days after the final I have tried to enjoy the moment and to realize it, but it just was not possible in such a short time. But that’s ok, after all we are all aimed now at an even bigger target.
kicker: Is this your reward for 6monthstorture?
Khedira : Definitely! And I’m also incredibly grateful that I was allowed to play in this finale. I have tried everything to be fit as fast as possible. Shortly after the surgery, I said to my doctors from Real Madrid, rather in jest, that I will be back on the pitch for the Champions League final. At that time it was totally unreal, and now it had become true.
kicker: How did you experience these 6 months between your serious injury and your comeback?
Khedira: It was the hardest time of my career. I played in a great team, was in top shape and at a very good level. I could go in each game over 90 minutes and just achieved my first goal of the season. I was at the very top and suddenly it pulled the rug out from under me. That was brutally hard.
kicker: How did you deal with this situation?
Khedira: For me, it was incredibly important to look ahead straight away. I have not complained: Why me? Why now, before the World Cup? I immediately flipped the switch and asked myself: What can I do? What options do I have? At the hospital in Milan I have already phoned the surgeon, after the diagnosis I called my therapist and made an appointment. Even if it sounds a bit silly in retrospect: It was a hard time, it was a grind, but I also had a lot of fun during rehabilitation work.
Khedira: Because everyone in the team around me was very positive. They always conveyed confidence and were always available. When I called, even if it was on a Sunday Evening at 8.00 o’clock, the therapists were willing to work with me. That gave me a good and safe feeling.
kicker: You say, the months in rehab have changed you. What does that mean?
Khedira: I got a slightly different view on the “whole story”. When you are stuck and only think from one match to the next match and from one success to the next success, there is a risk of forgetting the interpersonal level. The first four or five weeks were the most difficult time for me. Because I could not do anything, because I was often alone and had time to think a lot. As for me, the realization dawned: OK, football is a major part of my life, but it is not everything in life.
kicker: Were there moments of doubt?
Khedira: No, funny enough there never were any doubts and looking back I’m surprised, that everything went so smoothly. Others, who had a cruciate ligament rupture, warned me about setbacks, but there was none. The knee is only swollen once, just before Christmas. But that was expected and wanted, because we wanted to put an extreme stimulus to the knee. That was actually the milestone of the whole rehabilitation
kicker: What had happened?
Khedira: We had worked hard and the doctor gave me the OK, to bend the knee up to 110 degrees. But I didn’t make it beyond 85 degrees, although I have trained from morning to night. Nothing happened and that frustrated me. I thought, this can not be true, you invest so much and nothing happens!
kicker: And then?
Khedira: And then I went on holiday for Christmas. After three days, the therapist came to my house and suddenly I could bend my knee up to 130 degrees. Without therapy, without training, just going for a walk and enjoying time with the family. From then on, I said: I want to work hard on myself but not force anything.
kicker: Do you trust yourkneeagainone hundred percent?
Khedira: The trust was there immediately because we worked on this right from the beginning of rehabilitation. We have not only made the classic rehabilitation (strengthen the muscles and train endurance) but we also trained the visual perception, so the connection from the brain to the knee is immediately restored. The longer an injury is stored in the head and is not processed, the harder it will be to deal with.
kicker: Joachim Löw has, at least in public, demonstrated large trust in your on time recovery. Did he make you feel this?
Khedira: Yes, right in the hotel in Milan, when I came again to the team from the hospital, he has already told me that he needs me and is waiting for me.
kicker: Is it true that you have sent video clips of your first duel with sparring partners to the National Team coach?
Khedira: Yes, that was in spring, after my first match in Sicily. I played with my brother against the rehab coach and the therapist. I wanted to share it with the National Team coach, even if it was only on a very low level.
kicker: For Löw these last six months were a demonstration of your willing strength. Where does this quality come from?
Khedira: I think that it is a combination of temper and what was given to me by my parents. If you work hard, believe in one thing and doing everything for it, you will be rewarded for your efforts – this is the maxim in my family. You are alive to achieve something. Especially my father takes this maxim very seriously.
kicker: Looking ahead: Many leading players in the national team are still struggling with themselves. Do you worry about the fitness in the team?
Khedira: There is no place for fearful thinking. When important players cannot train or are not in their usual rhythm it is not perfect. But for us I see no problems, and there is no “doomsday mood” in the team. The key is not, that we are in a top condition today, but for the start of the World Cup. I am very confident that I will be fit and in good shape for the first game. It certainly will not be the case that the team has to drag me.
kicker: Per Mertesacker said in a kicker-interview, that the National Team has to find its way back to the playful basic system, which was practiced in 2010.
Khedira: I can only agree with him 100 percent. In 2010, we were incredibly compact, each one has defended and later, this has gone missing a bit. I have warned already in 2012, not only to rave about our great offensive football. Only with offensive football you don’t win a tournament. Offensive football will maybe get you sympathy points, but this is no longer our goal. Our goal is to lay our hands on the trophy.
kicker: Has Real Madrid realized this by now?
Khedira: Indeed I see parallels between Real Madrid and our National Team. Real Madrid as well has in recent years always spoken of the offensive. Now Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have been working an awful lot defensively. If we could do that with the National Team again as in 2010, without loosing our ease and our playful class in the offensive, we are very hard to beat. This means for the offensive players: A bit more working, a little less shining, and in the end we will all get the title. We could become heroes and legends later in life.
kicker: National Team coach Joachim Löw praised the team spirit, which is significantly better than at the European Championship in 2012. Is that your impression as well?
Khedira: What I have experienced so far makes me feel very confident, we are on the right path. I do not see any group formations but many similarities and much fun. We have to build this World Cup spirit from the inside, it won’t develop by any actions from the outside.
kicker: What would befor youa successfultournament?
Khedira: Before every tournament we always say the same: We must have the ambition to work for the title. But these are many stages that we must first survive. Beyond the preliminary round we will hopefully develop an appetite and the greed to survive difficult moments. The aim is clear: finale, July 13.
kicker: Your contract at Real Madrid ends in a year. Normally club and player agree to an extension of the contract or an immediate sale. What is your situation?
Khedira: We will deal with it after the World Cup. We are in a very good and honest contact with Real Madrid,the club has supported me wonderfully during the las tmonths. Now I am only interested in playing a good World Cup. After the World Cup we will talk and then make a joint decision about the next couple of years.
translated for Sami Khedira Fanpage
Photos: BILD / ZDF / RealTotal