Arsenal’s Skhodran Mustafi spoke with FR about his religion, what he’d be if he wasn’t a footballer, friendships in football and captaining the German national team.
On practising Ramadan as a footballer
I can’t keep Ramadan at the moment. It’s not possible because of the training sessions and matches. In the free days before the national team met up, I took part in Ramadan. But now you have to be careful not to harm the body.
On how difficult it is to fast
It’s very hard hard not to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. But it’s about will. For me, it’s a good thing because it brings me down to earth. It shows that I’m a man like everyone else. No matter how you can spend on food, this month is limited.
On the importance of staying grounded as a footballer
For me, it’s like this: I have a very close relationship with my family. Not just with my parents, but with my brother, cousins, aunts and uncles. So I never thought I was anything special. I don’t feel like the family star.
On if he celebrated the World Cup and FA Cup wins by drinking
I never drink alcohol. That’s because of my faith, and my belief that it’s not good for me. I can celebrate fine without it.
On what he’d be if he wasn’t a footballer
I’d be a policeman. I have a lot of respect for them. They have a risky job and do a lot of good, even if it’s not always appreciated by everyone. I think you need strong character to be one. Even if you do something good, you can still end up insulted and offended. You need to remain cool.
On captaining Germany
Of course, that was a nice feeling. But for me, it was important to keep communicating with the team and keeping concentration high. That was the task given to me. But for my family, who were in the stadium, it was something very special.
On being mature as a young player
I heard a lot that I was mature for my age. That comes from leaving home at 14. When I was at Hamburg, I had to do the cleaning, laundry and ironing by myself. I’m grateful for it. After that, it was the same. No matter where I went, I went alone. My family has always stayed in Germany.
On knowing five languages (German, Albanian, English, Spanish, Italian)
My Italian isn’t so good at the moment. I only use it at Italian restaurants in London. Spanish is easier for me because I have Spanish team-mates. I still get to practice it.
On if he’s friends with Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil, and if there are friendships in professional football
Sure, we eat together a lot. I’m a guy who doesn’t immediately say “this is my friend”. For me, team-mates are team-mates first. If we talk about more private things, we might become friends. I think the word friendship can sometimes be overused.
On being vice-captain of an inexperienced Germany team at the Confederations Cup
As a central defender, you’re a leader because you can see everything from the back. Especially in a three-man defence, when you’re in the middle and the last man. You have to talk a lot. That’s expected of a defender so I do it.
The interview was conducted by