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"This was the goal: I wanted to be a Bundesliga player"

Robert Andrich Interview:

Thu, 05. December 2019
"This was the goal: I wanted to be a Bundesliga player"

Robert Andrich has made one of the central midfield positions his own since joining 1. FC Union Berlin from Heidenheim last summer. The 25-year-old, who hails from Berlin, has developed his game hugely in the step up to the Bundesliga with the Köpenick club. Union’s Christian Arbeit spoke to Andrich about growing up in Berlin, playing in the lower divisions and his all-action style of play. The full interview (German) will be printed in the match magazine for Sunday’s game at home to 1. FC Köln.

CA: Hi Robert, a great start so far for you in the Bundesliga. You transferred to us in the summer. Did you expect it to work out so well so quickly? Or come in and have a look at things first?

RA: A little bit of both. When you come to a new club, you need to get used to the environment first, and the players. Everyone has their own speed of things, I personally don’t have so many problems finding my way around a new team quickly. In hindsight, it worked out extremely well for me. You arrive and want to show that you want to play, this is what every player wants. Sure, it’s even better that it worked out well and with so many appearances.

CA: When you arrived here in the summer, were you worried by the size of the squad?

RA: Not, not really. You focus on the training, so that you don’t have so many breaks. But it is like it is, we have a big squad and we need everyone. But it didn’t scare me as everybody — regardless of the squad size — has competition against whom he needs to prove themselves. It doesn’t make much of a difference whether it is one more player or less.

Do you look before at which players are here and who might also join?

It would be a lie to say that you don’t do it. It’s easier in a German club as you know the football here anyway and who is playing. Of course, at Heidenheim, we played against Union many times in the 2.Bundesliga. So yes, you definitely look at who is playing there. But in the end, it depends on how you present yourself, how you train, how present you are in the bounce games or competitive matches. The names there aren’t that important.

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You moved to Dynamo Dresden. Was that good for you, the next big step?

Yes, when I was in my early 20s, I was far away from home for the first time. I used to share a flat in Berlin and Dresden isn’t far away either, but I was still far away and also in the men’s game for the first time. So then comes a club which you know has outstanding fans, great stadium. Back then they were still in the third division and the focus wasn’t too much on promotion; it was chaotic and the coach was gone after two weeks. It wasn’t easy. But I played a lot there in the beginning. First real year, it was a bit less but that’s football.

And then a huge contrast as you moved to Wehen Wiesbaden. It’s not quite like Dresden, not so many people around. Is it different to play for a club like that?

Yeah, it is different. When I went to Wiesbaden at that time, I had challenged myself to play a lot of football in the two years, to get used to the league and to get better from game-to-game and then make the step up. That was the plan at the start. The fact it worked out so well is brilliant and also great for me personally. You come from Berlin, there’s loads going on, hustle and bustle. The same in Dresden, when everyone knows everything and things are under the spotlight. And you then come to a city like Wiesbaden when you are allowed to concentrate on football. It was important for me and also a big reason why I improved from then on.

You just said this was the plan. Who makes the plan? Yourself? Your agent and parents? Are there other people who you exchange ideas with?

As a football player, you have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. This was right from the start: I wanted to be a Bundesliga player. This is what I wanted from a young age, it’s what you want, what you believe in, what you work towards. Then the situation in Dresden follows: you are promoted but you don’t play much. So what do you do? Do you sit in the stand for a year in the second division or you look for a new challenge where you play lots of games?

My agent and I, as well as my parents, said that we’d choose to go back to the third division, to a club with ambitions and wants to go up, where the coach likes you and you can play. Then we made a plan with my agent, we went to Wiesbaden for two years, in order to then, if possible, make the next step. And so you keep saying to yourself: what is possible? What goals do I have and then what can I go and achieve? You always talk it through.

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So how is the Bundesliga going for you? Is it the way you imagined as a kid when you dreamed of being a first-team player in the top league?

Yes, definitely. You dream of competing with the best. I think you've also seen that we as a team might have needed a lift. Then Dortmund was a cracker. But I still think that we as a team weren't as solid then as we are now. That's why it was so important we got to grips with the league quickly. We are happy that we now have the 16 points and in the end it was very important that we got there so quickly.

Let's talk more about your style. You're the first player for us who picked up five yellow cards and had to sit out a match.. In other words, until a week ago, the focus was on you as a robust player who can also keep it in check. Then comes the Schalke game and afterwards everyone suddenly talks about a dive or a wrongly-awarded penalty kick for us, which you were involved in. How would you describe your way of playing?

I think everyone who follows the games sees I'm commitment in challenges. I don't think it's something every opponent likes, but I think it's not that bad. For us as a club or as a team this is always a thing where the others say: "Oh man, now we have to play against Union again". The team last week already had such a hard time against them. I think there are things that an opponent doesn't like about us. But I still think that I'm not just a tackler or a player who fouls a lot and that everything always gets a bit blown up out of proportion. I think I'm very, very good at football too, and that's sometimes forgotten a bit.