It will be loud again on Friday evening. The TSG Hoffenheim stadium announcer will raise his voice before the game against Borussia Dortmund, people will stand up and applaud. It’s not out of the question that a few will band together to chant, but perhaps it wouldn’t be appropriate for the occasion if they shouted “Ruuudy.” Rudy was never a folk hero like Völler.
An overly loud farewell would hardly suit Sebastian Rudy, one of the quietest national players that German football has ever had. In the middle of a very loud phase (Flick away! Nagelsmann is coming! Harry Kane!) the midfielder leaves the field, surprisingly early, as can be said given his age. At the age of 33, football life begins again for some people, if necessary in Saudi Arabia. But Rudy wasn’t that kind of footballer – or isn’t, as you might say.
“I still enjoy football, I won’t give it up,” said Rudy when he announced the end of his career as a professional football player, “I’m on the lookout a bit and watch one or two district league games.” That sounds a bit like Jonas Hector from Cologne, who continues to cultivate his love of the game in a leisure league despite officially retiring. So if Rudy were to appear in a Baden district league soon, would he then be Hector von Hoffenheim?
Not quite – perhaps he switched back and forth between Hoffenheim and Schalke 04 a little too often to be considered a romantic. Especially since he also played for FC Bayern for a year, from where he went to Schalke for a transfer fee of 16 million euros – but the fact that he received such a fabulous salary at Schalke that business operations there suffered for quite a while seems to speak against it Schalke 04 as against Sebastian Rudy.
With his style of play, Rudy made an impressive 358 Bundesliga appearances
Rudy played 29 mostly very serious international matches, which is at least 20 more than people remember. In order to get into people’s consciousness, something was always missing – even if it was just the understanding of the audience, who either wants to see colliding bodies or dashing sprints in the defensive midfield position. Rudy wasn’t a fierce tackler or an up-and-down runner, but he could do something many at his position couldn’t. It sounds banal, but he could kick really well.
Sebastian Rudy was a little Kroos. He felt the rhythm of the game, absorbed it and carried it forward, giving his teammates a feeling of security. They always knew that someone who knew their stuff was playing next to them. Rudy made an impressive 358 Bundesliga appearances in this way, not counting the many fine passes he played or the corners and free kicks that he particularly enjoyed taking. Rudy was a reliable regular player in the DFB team that won the Confed Cup with Joachim Löw in the summer of 2017, and a year later, at the World Cup in Russia, he was even really prominent for half an hour. In the second group game against Sweden he was in the starting line-up, and when he followed up on a bad pass from Kroos (of all people), he was forced into a duel in which his nose broke.
After his contract in Hoffenheim expired, Rudy has now realized how much the market has changed. Whenever his name was brought up anywhere, his stakeholders at almost every club heard the same thing: Rudy? Good player, but… In his position today, people value “intensity”, as it’s been called these days, and Rudy doesn’t play “intensely”. Modern football has evolved past this fine footballer, and whether that was such a good idea for modern football has not yet been decided.