Raphaël Varane, Our 5th Captain has opened up to Real France about his season at Madrid, winning so many Champions Leagues, Zidane’s departure, & the French odds at the World Cup.
Below is what he had to say!
Q: You’ve become the 2nd youngest player in history to win 4 Champions Leagues. Do you realize or is it still too fresh?
Varane : Yes & no. No, because it’s extremely difficult to achieve, it’s extraordinary. & Yes because I know how difficult it is to win! In the French NT, I’m the only one to have won. It’s another way that I’ve realized it. Thinking back to when I was young, & what this means... It’s something crazy! It’s magnificent and I don’t think I’ll really realize all of this until I retire.
Q: How do you explain such a big difference between Real Madrid’s season in La Liga compared to the UCL?
Varane: It’s hard to explain ... I think in the UCL we put all the ingredients to win every match. We lost at Tottenham, but the mood was always very good. We managed to persevere and find solutions, sometimes late in the game, but regardless we didn’t give up. In Liga, the same has often turned against us. We lost many games or drawn in cruel & completely unfair manner. Whereas in the previous Liga we won, it often turned in our favor. These are small things, small details, but in the end it wasn’t on our side in Liga, but in UCL yes. There’s no real explanation otherwise, it’d be too simple, we’d win everything if we had all answers everytime!
Q: On a personal level, are you satisfied with your season?
Varane: Yes, I’m satisfied. It’s a good season for me, a full season. In all competitions, I played almost 50 games. I was consistent, despite the team having ups & downs, I tried to be consistent. I’m satisfied with my season, what I’ve missed out on, it’s not much.
Q: You’re a complete defender, good at recovery, in duels, air games, etc. But if there was one aspect that you would still like to improve, what would it be?
Varane: Score, score more goals actually! But I try to improve each year to be even more complete, not to rest on my achievements. I think I can still progress in every aspect of the game. We can always progress, so I will continue to work. I regularly work my long game, which I have used more this season.
Q: One of the revolutions in Madrid was the arrival of Pintus. What has changed in your daily life?
Varane: He hurt us! He made us suffer more. (laughs) We have players who are used to training with the ball & added this little physical touch in recent years. And it has paid off. There’s so many games in the season that he wasn’t able to make sessions every week, but at the beginning of the season he did a lot of work & helped when we only had one game a week, or with those who came back from injury. It is these little details that let us arrive at the end of the season without injuries and be ready for the final stages of the Champions League.
Q: Last January, you wore the Real Madrid captain’s armband, what feeling did you get?
Varane: It’s a huge pride already. It’s a lot of fun. It is not easy to have the armband, especially in Madrid. I already had it with The French squad at 21, I am very happy, very proud. To have worn it in Madrid takes many years of work, I’ve been here for 7 years and it’s a little reward for all the work that I’ve done. It’s pleased me and my loved ones, I was very happy!
Q: You are the 5th captain in Madrid, and in front of you there are only thirties (note: Ramos, Marcelo, Cristiano, Benzema). Have you realized that you could become Real’s captain in the years to come?
Varane: It’s true that I’ve already thought about it. It makes me think that it’s possible, but the future will tell. Since I’ve been in Madrid I have gone through the stages 1 by 1, without rushing, even if sometimes people are a little in a hurry with young players. We’ll see if I’ll go that step too or not. But it is true that I think about it from time to time, it happens when someone speaks to me about it. But I do not rush, I do not lose my head, we’ll see. If it has to come, it will come.
Q: Last week Zidane announced that he was leaving. When and how did you hear the news?
Varane: We were warned just before his press conference by a message sent to each player. Obviously we were a little surprised. It was a sad moment. A little surprised, astonished too. But if Zidane has made that decision, he weighed the pros and cons. In any case, what he did is just amazing.
Q: In the press conference, Zidane said that the Dressing Room needed a new impetus, a new talk. As a player, did you feel that too?
Varane: In football, it can be difficult to accept, but it’s true that a little change can also be good for everyone, even if we didn’t feel the need. Our Liga season may be a sign that he’s right. Maybe we need that, we’ll see. If he says so, it’s probably because he saw and felt it. He’s a very sensitive coach to the attitude of the players & what we feel. So it’s not for nothing he said it. I think there’s some truth
Q: Promising young players are often warned not to give in to the lures from abroad. With hindsight do you say that you took a risk when arriving at Real Madrid so young?
Varane: Yes of course, it’s a risk. After all, it depends on the personality of the player. I like to take challenges & this was a big challenge! But I didn’t go without thinking either. I knew I had the opportunity to fall back on my feet if it ever went wrong. I also knew that I should be patient, especially at my position. I can not say ‘I’m coming to play every game’ ... I was warned by Mourinho at the time and it was clear in my head that I’d have to wait my turn. It was difficult, but it was a risk to take, which paid off in the end!
Q: In what state of mind are you today? Do you see yourself having a huge career at Real or could a new challenge be considered in the future?
Varane: I’m good at Real Madrid, but ever since I missed the Euro in 2016, I see things differently. I avoid looking too far ahead, cuz it hurts if it doesn’t happen as expected. I am very, very good in Madrid, there is no problem. I have the confidence of the club, my partners, contract until 2022, so everything is going well & I hope that it’ll last a very long time!
Q: You inspire respect in Spain, yet you still seem to have some detractors and doubters in France. Where does this difference in opinion come from?
Varane: First, they need to have correct information. That’s the reason you’re here! It’s necessary they have daily information about what is happening abroad, because sometimes the news coming to France does not always correspond to what is actually happening. And then after that, it’s up to me to put on a double shift at the World Cup to change their opinions!
Q: The objective announced by Noel Le Graët for France at the World Cup is a semifinal. You, who live in Real, where there is a culture of winning, do you really consider another result than a victory?
Varane : When I start a competition, it’s to win it. We will do everything to win, we know that it will be very difficult, but we firstly must believe. Otherwise it will be complicated. We must take the matches in parts. Start well, and after that we’ll see how far we can go. What matters is to go to the end of our ability, to return home without any regrets and to be able to say that we did the maximum. The important thing, as they say in Spain, is ‘dejar todo en el campo’, that is to leave everything on the field, to give everything.
Q: If you had to make a little comparison between Real Madrid and the French team today, what is missing from the French NT according to you?
Varane: I would say experience. Experience, and a certain degree of automation. In the Madrid team, we know each other perfectly, I’m not going to say that we play with our eyes closed, but we know exactly where our partner is, where he is going to move. This is a real benefit, especially in tougher times. When you have to suffer, we know how to find partners and how to get out of complicated situations. This is important for large teams, it is the experience and how you play together.
Q: Amidst the 23 players selected for France, you are the one who won the most, who has the most titles. Is not it up to you to take the leadership?
Varane: I don’t think it takes a player to guide others. We need 23 leaders. I have my personality, I bring my experience. II talk a lot before games with young people who have just arrived. I can also bring that tranquility into difficult times that is fundamental. We must not give in to pressure, panic, and continue to move in the same direction, regardless of what happens.
Q: You come out of a big season with Madrid, do not you feel a little tired now with the start of the World Cup?
Varane : A little, yes, but it’s normal. I did not play the first two games of prep, because I need a break. It is important to rest physically, but also mentally. Mental fatigue is often underestimated, but playing every third day also exhausts your mind. I had to take a break and put a little fuel in the engine, and then we leave.
Q: What can we wish for you this World Cup? A goal in the final?
Varane: No, two!
Q: Is it a wink to Zidane?
Varane: Also yes ...