Tuchel hails Mount after first Chelsea hat-trick
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Antonio Rudiger has admitted he felt he had a point to prove in the Champions League final after falling out of favour under Frank Lampard. Rudiger came close to leaving Chelsea in the summer of 2020 and featured in just one of Chelsea’s opening 15 Premier League in the 2020/21 season under Lampard.
Lampard was sacked in January, with Thomas Tuchel taking over for the second half of the season.
Rudiger was forced to deny reports he had played a part in Lampard’s sacking by talking to the club’s board about him, hitting out at “nonsense rumours” in an interview with The Athletic in February.
The German centre-back established himself as one of Tuchel’s go-to players in defence and started the Champions League final against Manchester City in May.
Chelsea’s 1-0 victory was a huge feather in Tuchel’s cap, coming just five months into his tenure, but it was also a huge moment for Rudiger, given what had come previously.
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“It was a big relief,” he told The Guardian. “It was crazy. ‘At some point you were the bogeyman. You were a bad person to have around from what I heard.’
“For me, it was good. At the end of the day you cannot close people out. They will always keep speaking and that’s not why I play football, but it was good that I came out as a winner.”
Rudiger was then asked if he felt he had a point to prove in the final in Lisbon.
“One hundred per cent,” he replied. “The manager got fired and there were a lot of people… I don’t know what they tried, but it didn’t work.”
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While Rudiger and Lampard’s relationship was understood to be tense at the start of the 2020/21, they did patch things up in the closing stages before his sacking.
The 28-year-old started three of his last four games in charge and carried that form into Tuchel’s time as manager.
The German tactician has made a huge impact at Stamford Bridge, winning the Champions League and leading the Blues to the top of the Premier League after nine games this season.
“Tuchel gave me new life,” Rudiger admitted.
“I wouldn’t say he said: ‘You have to be the biggest speaker in the dressing room.’ I’m not like this. I like to show everything on the pitch.
“He told me what he expects – my natural game: to be aggressive, to be a leader.”
Rudiger has started all but one of Chelsea’s Premier League games so far this season, as well as all three of their Champions League matches.
He has developed into a fan-favourite at Stamford Bridge, but his future is uncertain, with his current contract set to expire in the summer.
“The most important thing is that I feel happy here,” Rudiger said.
“I think if people look at it, they can see I’m happy. About the contract situation, I talk with the club. This is for nobody’s ears.”
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