Danish international Robert Skov is in the midst of his first Bundesliga season and has already made a big impression on Hoffenheim fans and opponents alike with his set-piece skills.
Talented free-kick specialist Skov sits down with bundesliga.com to discuss life in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, how building lego is keeping him busy at home and the art of his free-kick taking...
bundesliga.com: Robert Skov, what feelings, impressions and worries have you felt during this Coronavirus pandemic?
Robert Skov: "I'm healthy, most importantly, and my family as well. The main focus right now is that your loved ones are healthy and everyone else, so one day we can move on with life. This time is, of course, difficult for everyone, a lot of people have lost their dear ones, so I think it's been a really difficult time for many people but my family and I are healthy and that's of course something I'm very happy about."
bundesliga.com: You're transitioning from 100 per cent home office to training in small groups with Hoffenheim. How does the daily life of a Bundesliga player currently look?
Skov: "It's not like there's much to do outside your house when everything is closed, so I was two and a half, three weeks in Denmark, where we had home office, so it was quite easy to stay home with my girlfriend and family there. When I'm here in Germany it's a bit boring at times because I'm alone here and I miss my family. I think it's easy to stay at home, you train in these small groups, buy something at the supermarkets and stay at home for the rest of the time."
bundesliga.com: How are you spending this unexpected free time? Any new hobbies or things you couldn't previously do?
Skov: "At the beginning, I tried to have some projects to keep me occupied, so I made my terrace look nice, bought some furniture for the terrace to enjoy the nice weather in Heidelberg, then I've been building a bit of Lego and
face-timing my family, friends and girlfriend, watching movies and reading books."
bundesliga.com: Can you tell us more about your Lego building hobby?
Skov: "First I built a Bugatti car, so it was quite a project. The Lego made an amazing car with amazing details, so just about 4,000 pieces. It was quite a project and I think the process took around 25-30 hours in total, so it was quite a long project and it was fun."
Watch: Skov won November's Goal of the Month with a stunning free-kick!
bundesliga.com: How is training on the pitch arranged at the moment?
Skov: "It's very different, but you can also work with the small details more than you normally do in team training, so you have an opportunity to adjust the small details and do a lot of finishing training with the goalkeepers, so I think the training is good. The coaches are doing a good job and we're trying our best to keep up the high spirits and develop. Of course, you miss the real football, the one-on-one duels, defending and attacking, but at the moment it's not the right thing to do, so we just get the best out of the situation and I think the club and the coaches have made a really good programme for us, so we stay sharp."
bundesliga.com: How can tactics and set plays be worked on now?
Skov: "Of course, tactical things are a bit difficult, it's more the small technical details you can finetune. We've also been seeing videos of ourselves playing and how we want to develop the game, so there are lots of things to do, but the best to develop tactics is to train on the pitch as a team. We do our best to try to do these things in another way as the normal way is not an option right now."
bundesliga.com: How is the team spirit within Hoffenheim, given you cannot all be together at once?
Skov: "Yeah, I think everyone is keeping high spirits and working hard in these small groups. Everyone has done really well, it's really nice to see that everyone comes in with a smile and works hard to be sharp and I think everyone wanted a bit of normality in their life. As a footballer, you train every day and you have games, so it's quite strange to have these three weeks of home office, so everyone feels good to have a little bit of normality, training with a ball and not in home office. So everyone is in high spirits and trying to get the best out of the situation."
bundesliga.com: How would you rate your first season in the Hoffenheim jersey so far?
Skov: "I've been really happy coming here to Hoffenheim, playing in an amazing club with great people. It has, of course, been challenging at the beginning and still now; it's a big step from the Danish league to the Bundesliga, it's quite a different level. I'm adjusting and trying to get better each day, but I'm very happy to be here and playing a lot. It's obviously difficult to know what you're going into when you change clubs and your main goal is to play, but it's not always so easy, so I'm very lucky to have the trust of the coaching staff and get a lot of playing time. I've had a lot of new experiences now, which I didn't have before, so I think it has made me a better player in the last eight-nine months."
bundesliga.com: You've shown yourself to be a multi-skilled and versatile player. Can you recall how many positions you’ve played in this season?
Skov: "I've played a little bit at full-back, a little bit wing-back, also up front on the right side, so a bit of moving around but it's football and football today is a bit more flexible than 10 years ago and you have to do your best, no matter which position, for the team."
bundesliga.com: You came to the league as a classic attacking threat and top scorer of the Danish league. How big was the transition for you, no longer being a centre forward or on the wing?
Skov: "It was a challenge and something different, but I could also see that with the way we played it would be more natural for me to play the wing-back position because we play 3-5-2 in a lot of games and I've normally played as a winger, a traditional winger. It was a possibility for me to play and get a lot of experience, so I went into it with an open mind and tried to do my best. Of course, it was a challenging process at the beginning but it went alright and I'm just trying to do my best."
bundesliga.com: Do you have to relearn how to play defence as a left-back?
Skov: "A lot of new things to know, things I had no idea about. I think it's really nice as a footballer to develop this part and when you play in attack you know what hurts the defence when you've been trying to defend really good players."
bundesliga.com: How much has it helped having another Dane, Jacob Bruun Larsen, in the Hoffenheim squad?
Skov: "It's really nice. He's a good friend and we enjoy our time together a lot. We have a lot of the same views on football, so we talk a lot of football, but it's nice outside of football to have a guy your own age to be around and, not so much right now but, watching a football game, a movie and just talk about anything. It's really nice and I think it's been good for him and I to have each other."
bundesliga.com: What makes Bruun Larsen the footballer he is?
Skov: "One-on-one, he can really hurt people, he's brilliant one-against-one. His technique, his ability to go through and set people up or shoot himself. I think he's really strong here and we'll see that in Hoffenheim. He developed a lot in Dortmund and now it's really time for him to show what he's been learning. I'm sure with more minutes and getting to know other players, he'll be a great player here in Hoffenheim."
bundesliga.com: Bruun Larsen has even proven himself as a good hairdresser...
Skov: "Yeah, yeah. He did a great job. My closest friends and I back in Denmark decided to cut our hair and we're eight guys who look like this."
bundesliga.com: What do you think Hoffenheim can still achieve with the resumption of the Bundesliga season?
Skov: "It's a difficult question as we're a bit in the dark. We don't know much until the DFL or DFB says what is going to happen. Hopefully, we'll play football again and end the season, but we really don't know if and when we're going to play. I really hope we're going to play and of course it'll be difficult to play without spectators, it'll be a new challenge, but we'll do our best to get some good results in the last eight games."
bundesliga.com: Three goals and four assists is an impressive attacking tally, helped with brilliant shooting technique with your left foot. Is it something you specifically work on?
Skov: "I don't think I have a special talent for kicking, I just think from a young age it's just been my thing – I did a lot of shooting with my family, my father and brother. Doing it a lot, maybe more than others. Train, train, train, doing it all the time, every week and my parents always told me to work on it. It was always great to have a free-kick or corner kick taker as it can give you goals. I've always been training it a lot, it's fun to train, with my friends and at former clubs."
bundesliga.com: How natural was it for you as a young player and newcomer to the team to take almost all of the team's set-pieces?
Skov: "I think when you come as a new player, you have to get the respect from teammates, I don't think anyone in the club knew who I was or my qualities. So you have to show in training that you're capable of shooting and then you get the trust of the coaches and players. It was the same in Copenhagen, you have to show that it's your spot to take and then you have to deliver in the games."
bundesliga.com: Do you have any particular dreams or goals for the future?
Skov: "It's not a time to dream a lot. I think a lot about things, life and what you want to accomplish and be as a human. How you want to treat people and how you want people to view you. It's not the time or moment to dream a lot, you think about what's important to you and when you don't see your family or your girlfriend you have thoughts you normally don't have because you're used to seeing them. Hopefully, when we start to play football we will dream of good things."