While Bundestrainer Hansi Flick has never mentioned it explicitly, one could easily imagine Bayern Munich stars Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka as Die Mannschaft’s dressing room leaders, given that all four were members of Flick’s team council during his time at the Bavarian club. Rüdiger also wishes to be “one of the bosses” for his country — as the commander of the German backline.
“I’m ready to take on responsibility at any time and have been with the DFB for a number of years,” said Rüdiger (as captured by Sport1). “I’m happy to pass on my experience to younger players. I am not the kind of player who makes big speeches in the dressing room, but on the pitch it is always important for me to be very active in terms of communication and to lead the way. I see it as my duty to do that.”
At Bayern, David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng were two of Flick’s most trusted “soldiers”, with the sextuple-winning manager often pointing out the center-back pairing’s ability to organize defense and pass instructions to their teammates from the back. Rüdiger also seems to possess similar qualities, which could be one of the reasons the 29-year old has become an integral part of Flick’s Germany.
“I am a defender who considers communication to be very important at all times,” the Berlin native added. “Every player should make as many arrangements as possible with his teammates at all times. You don’t need the one central defensive leader for that. Everyone should always point out to their teammates in a communicative way when they think a gap is too big or an opponent is too free.”
Rüdiger further provided a few more technical details while discussing the importance of on-pitch communication. Unlike at club level, players do not have the luxury of going through months of training sessions with their national teams. Having vocal leaders on the field can be especially helpful in faster deployment of coach’s plans.
“For me, commands are always assistance for my own teammates - less work instructions in the classic sense,” explained Rüdiger. “If I miss an opponent at the back, I want the debutant to tell me that just as much. Stable defensive chains always work primarily through routines. These are more difficult to develop in the national team than in the club. At the DFB, we rarely have time to really practice anything.”