Christoph Metzelder is a child of Germany’s gritty and hard-working Ruhr valley. The former Germany international was born in 1980 in Haltern, a town of 38,000 inhabitants, and first started playing for his local club. The 1.94 metre centre-back moved to Schalke 04 and Preussen Munster, before making his Bundesliga breakthrough with Borussia Dortmund, where he spent the period from 2000 to 2007.
The man nicknamed Metze first represented his country on 15 August 2001, collecting a runners-up medal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ in Korea and Japan, and finishing third with Germany at the 2006 finals on home soil.
In 2007, the player opted for an overseas adventure and joined Real Madrid, but it was to be an unhappy move from a sporting perspective and he made just a handful of La Liga appearances in three seasons with the Spanish giants. His travails in Madrid were no help to his international career either. The man capped 47 times by his country last pulled on national colours in the UEFA EURO 2008 final.
Metzelder has now returned to his country of birth on a three-year contract with Bundesliga runners-up Schalke. The 29-year-old regards the switch as a chance to restate his international credentials by aiding his new club’s efforts in the Bundesliga, the DFB German Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
The articulate and intelligent Metzelder spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about his targets for the season, his new team-mate Raul, his chances of a comeback for Germany, and his community involvement with disadvantaged youths.
FIFA.com: Christoph, welcome back to Germany. Have you acclimatised to life back at home yet?
Christoph Metzelder: Well, I come from the Ruhr valley, so there’s been no settling-in period in terms of my private life. It’s working out very well at the club too. I’ve had a very friendly and open reception from my team-mates and everyone at the club, so it’s all been made very easy. I’m feeling good about it.
What are the biggest differences between life in Madrid and in Gelsenkirchen?
You can’t compare the Spanish capital with Gelsenkirchen. The rhythm of the day is completely different in Spain too, as reflected in the kick-off times in the two countries. In Germany, we generally play at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon, but the temperatures in Spain mean you’re not playing until nine or ten at night. And there’s no comparison to Real Madrid as a club. It’s the biggest club in the world, and a very complex entity indeed.