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Varane reflects in depth on his life and career in football

The defender spoke with French outlet Onze Mondial

Real Madrid v Athletic Club Bilbao - Liga Photo by Pressinphoto/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Raphael Varane was interviewed recently by French magazine Onze Mondial. Below are some of the highlights from the Frenchman’s full interview.

Humble beginnings

“I started by playing [football] with my brother in the garden. As I was younger, I had to run for the ball, which bothered me a little. More than once we had to interrupt the game because I cried. But, I competed strongly because it was one-on-one game with my brother and I couldn’t lose. I always wanted to challenge him, even if he was taller. I learned the whole basic technique by working with my father. He was very demanding. He imposed rules on us, otherwise we would’ve played our way. Mom, on the other hand, was in charge of scientific matters. She was a teacher and always took it seriously.”

Playing with his first team at seven years old

“For the first few months I played on the same team with my brother, who was the captain. I approached everything with humility and did my job on the pitch.”

Going to boarding school and dealing with early injuries

“I had a difficult time growing up and going to boarding school. I missed my home. When you’re 13 to 15 years old you start to asking yourself questions about your future. How do I focus on football? How do I focus on learning? These are normal questions for a teenager. On top of that there’s the pressure of football, the pressure of boarding school life and competition. I’ve had a lot of injuries to add. It was hard. I had problems with my knees because I grew fast, but I was always able to adjust and play with my teeth clenched. I played many games with pain. You must know how to get through this.”

Transferring to Real Madrid from Lens

“Gervais Martel, the president of Lens, gave me the information. I had to accept it. It was a unique opportunity. I talked to my agent at the time and then my family. We said to ourselves that if I failed I could always come back. It’s also Zizou and Mourinho’s talent that they saw me. They were the ones who something mature about me. They bet on me, but at the club [Real Madrid] no one knew me except them.”

The pressure of playing for Real Madrid

“It’s a different pressure. You have a lot of newspapers, TV and radio shows every day. Events in Real life often have a global impact. It’s a global club. The pressure inside is huge too and the fans are extremely demanding. Winning is good, but it’s never enough. Here, you can always improve something in the game. A tie is a disaster. The standards are higher than any other club. We feel it and we live with it, but not all players can live with it. I’ve seen players who can’t handle it because it sometimes affects your head.”

2018 Ballon D’Or nomination

“That [playing extravagant] would mean making more noise around you. I’m in the shadows. You have goals, spectacular actions and various media activities. I’m different and I don’t need a change. I won’t change to win individual awards.”

Zidane returning as manager

“[It’s] something good. I know his working methods very well. He knows what he can expect from me too. He knows me very well and we’re doing well. We’re starting to fire up the machine again, regaining good individual and team spirit.”

Worst career moment

“The injury that caused me to miss the Champions League Final and the EURO Final in 2016. Maybe I wouldn’t have played in the Champions League Final, but I was preparing for the EURO for two years. At the time it was a bit of an obsession of mine. I probably won’t [play] the EURO at home anymore. It remained on me like a scar.”

Statement that best describes Varane

“There was a phrase in Pole-Espoirs that [intrigued] me. ‘Fall is allowed, rise is mandatory.’ I repeat it to myself in difficult moments.”

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