With four goals, including a match-winning double against Bayern Munich, to show for his maiden 11 Bundesliga appearances as part of a Borussia Mönchengladbach team chasing a first league title in over 40 years, Ramy Bensebaini has no regrets about leaving Ligue 1 club Rennes for the German top flight last summer.
bundesliga.com caught up with the Algeria international and AFCON 2019-winning defender to discuss life at Gladbach, his first impressions of the Germany's foremost division and his route into football...
bundesliga.com: After 25 matches, Gladbach are fourth in the table, only six points behind leaders Bayern. Where will you finish at the end of the season?
Ramy Bensebaini: "I think we can finish the season in the top five. We’ll do our best to finish as high as possible."
bundesliga.com: What do you think about the quality of the squad?
Bensebaini: "On the pitch, we're always there for each other. You know that if an opponent gets past you, one of your teammates will have your back. Our strength is definitely our team spirit."
bundesliga.com: What do you think about Gladbach coach Marco Rose?
Bensebaini: "He’s a very good person. He always talks to the players and tries to help them. He’s a good coach, too, and the fact that we are challenging proves it."
bundesliga.com: Do you prefer playing as central defender or left-back?
Bensebaini: "I originally trained as a central defender. I’ve been playing as a left-back for almost four years now. I prefer playing on the left, but I can help in the centre if needed."
bundesliga.com: Ligue 1 or Bundesliga?
Bensebaini: "The Bundesliga. That’s why I am here. I left Ligue 1 to join the Bundesliga, it made sense!"
bundesliga.com: What are the differences between the leagues?
Bensebaini: "I think it’s physically tougher than in France, it’s faster than in France, even though France has good teams too. But here I think the level is a bit higher."
bundesliga.com: Who made you want to play football?
Bensebaini: "When I was a child, my father encouraged me to become a footballer. I was always playing outside and then my father signed me up to a club in my hometown, Constantine. That’s how it all started."
bundesliga.com: Who pushed you most to become a professional footballer?
Bensebaini: "My father was always there for me. He pushed me towards football, even though I wanted to play football anyway. My mother was also always there for me. I don’t really know what to say about her, except 'thank you'. Even though I now live in Germany, she calls me three or four times a day. Thank you, mother."
Watch: Who is Ramy Bensebaini?
bundesliga.com: Which coach helped you the most?
Bensebaini: "My coach in Algeria, Jamel is his name. He was my coach in Constantine, he helped me a lot. I then moved to Algiers to train at the Paradou academy and he came with me, becoming the assistant to the academy coach. Therefore, my entire youth training was with him. He was there for me all along the way."
bundesliga.com: Tell us about the last Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where Algeria lifted the trophy.
Bensebaini: "First of all, before we went to the Africa Cup, the coach told us: "my only goal is to win the cup." And we the players didn’t really believe it was possible. We had been knocked out of the first round at the last tournament. After that, it took guts to declare that our goal was to win it. So we went over there, with the goal in mind to take each game as it comes and then see where it takes us. And we ended the first round with nine points and no goals against us. At that point, we knew that something was happening. Little by little, we kept on winning games and our confidence rose. We reached the semi-finals and thought: it’s now or never."