Germany defender Antonio Rudiger said on Monday he was rooting for Real Madrid to beat Liverpool in the Champions League final last month because was still hurting after losing the FA Cup and League Cup finals with Chelsea against the Merseyside club.
Real ground out three come-from-behind wins against Paris St-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stage to reach the final, where they beat Liverpool 1-0 in Paris.
“I was really happy that Real Madrid won. I knew that I was going to play here and it was like a personal third final for me after those two losses in cup finals to Liverpool,” Rudiger told a news conference as he was unveiled as a Real player.
The 29-year-old centre back agreed to join the LaLiga and European champion on a four-year deal as a free agent as his contract with Chelsea expired at the end of the 2021-22 season.
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“Real Madrid is about winning. That’s what it means to play in this club and I’m really looking forward to start.
“What they did last year in the Champions League was hard to explain and put into words. It was incredible. They did it against all odds and doubts. Really remarkable,” Rudiger said.
Rudiger, who was part of the Chelsea side eliminated by Real in the quarter-finals, said playing against the team that could be his future club was not an issue.
“At that time I wasn’t sure that I was going to Real, but it would be easy anyway because we are professionals and those contractual elements stay off the pitch,” Rudiger said.
“It was a very special and intense game the second-leg, my first time playing at Santiago Bernabeu. It was all going well for our team but after we scored the third goal I was surprised that the atmosphere was still positive from the crowd, it was quite impressive.”
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Chelsea, which lost 3-1 in the first leg in west London, led 3-0 in the return but allowed Real to score twice late in the second half and qualify for the semi-finals 5-4.
Rudiger has been a key player for Chelsea since joining from AS Roma in 2017, winning the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.
He made 54 appearances in all competitions in his final season, all from the start, more than any other Chelsea player and departed with 203 appearances and 12 goals to his name.
Rudiger has played 50 times for Germany since his debut in 2014.