Antonio Rüdiger signs off every social media post with the hashtags #hustle and #AlwaysBelieve. Those are certainly the qualities that have epitomized his time at Chelsea, from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. Always going full tilt, above and beyond, never shying away form the challenge (at times with both feet!), giving it his all.
So of course when it came time to pen his goodbye to the club and the fans, he didn’t just settle for a note. Oh no. He wrote an entire essay, published today in The Players’ Tribune.
Obviously, you should read it.
It starts with a story about N’Golo Kanté, as all good essays should.
Five years is a long time in football. Not even an essay can encompass it all. The highlights are heartwarming — the Champions League final, the respect for (and from) Tuchel, the praise for his teammates. The lowlights are maddening — being dropped from the team two years ago, the contract negotiations (or lack thereof), the abuse on social media.
But as Toni says, business is business. And football is football. The journey and the memories will last forever.
“I leave this club with a heavy heart. It has meant everything to me. Even this season, with all the complications, has been enjoyable.”
“Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. I came here alone, and now I have a wife and two beautiful kids. I also have a new brother for life named Kova. I have an FA Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League medal. And of course, I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.”
Rüdiger finishes with the story of his post-match apology after Chelsea’s 6-0 drubbing at the Etihad by Manchester City in February 2019, which turned sour briefly before cementing the club in his heart.
“There is hatred in the football world, for sure. That’s a fact. I have experienced the worst of it. But there is also a lot of joy, too. At Chelsea, I experienced both extremes.
“Yes, I heard the abuse.
“But I also felt the love.
“At the end of the day, the light was stronger than the darkness.
“For that, I will always be Chelsea.
No, thank you.