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Chelsea's new £34million defender Antonio Rudiger could be their secret weapon this season — as a striker

by July 29, 2017 General

Antonio Rudiger could spring a surprise in attack for Chelsea this season, writes Darren Lewis in Singapore .

The £34million centre-back revealed that he started life as a striker before establishing himself as a top defender. But Rudiger, now preparing to take on the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy, could easily have been in their shoes instead.

“I started off as a striker,” said the former Roma star. “But that changed at the age of 16. Before, I was not a tall guy. I was small. So I used to play on the wings or as a striker. Then, at the age of 16, I started growing and my coach decided to let me play in defence.

“Compared to then, there are different types of strikers now. Strong strikers, fast strikers, technical guys. Football has changed.

“Now you need to prepare for a physical game. There are a lot of strikers – Vardy, Lukaku – where you look at them and it is a challenge. The whole league is a challenge.”

Rudiger, 24, arrives at the Bridge from Italy and is still angry at the level of racism in Serie A.

As a Roma player, the Germany international saw it, experienced it at the hands of Lazio fans, and even from opposition players.

“I just want justice.” he said. “I want FIFA or the FA in Italy just to suspend those people who do that.

“Those people need to be banned from the stadium or fined.”

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Referring to being personally abused by fans, he added: “People love to say ‘stay calm’ or ‘don’t do anything’. It is easy for you to say those things, when you are not black, and you never feel what it is like.

“You cannot even put yourself in my position of how that feels. In that moment, you are alone.

“You have to be strong. But each human is different. Someone takes it and doesn’t react. Others react. I can understand both.”

The 24-year-old is after more silverware after Confederations Cup victory this month

Rudiger also revealed how he could have joined Chelsea a year ago, but suffered a knee injury.

He has since helped Roma into the Champions League and his country to the Confederations Cup.

He added: “It could have been the biggest moment of my career.

“Of course, at that moment it was sad, but I believe in God and everything has its time. So, one year later, I won the Confederations Cup and am now at Chelsea.”

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