Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels has been enjoying highlights of classic games of the past at home, including the Wolves' win over Real Madrid in 2015/16. - © Simon Hofmann/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images
Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels has been enjoying highlights of classic games of the past at home, including the Wolves' win over Real Madrid in 2015/16. - © Simon Hofmann/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images

Wolfsburg's Koen Casteels: "I've watched the highlights of our win over Real Madrid in the Champions League"

Wolfsburg's Koen Casteels has been making the most of lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic by re-watching highlights of some classic Wolfsburg games.

Speaking to bundesliga.com from the comfort of home, the Belgium international discusses the implications of the coronavirus, the new hobbies he's picked up and his hopes for the rest of the 2019/20 season with the Wolves...

bundesliga.com: How do you feel in this special situation at the moment, how are you handling it?

Koen Casteels: "First of all, I think we're all fine in the team, so of course it's a difficult situation, but it's the same for everybody. I just think we have to deal with it, be careful and make the best of it."

bundesliga.com: With many people around the world staying at home and social distancing, how have you been spending your time?

Casteels: "Not so different to most people, so a lot of time at home. But that means I have some time for other things that we don't have a lot of time for during the season. The first weeks were not bad to organise our home a little bit, to do some paperwork or things like that. I think we could use the time for things like that."

bundesliga.com: How have you stayed in touch with coaches and teammates, how do you communicate with each other?

Casteels: "We have a team chat and in the first weeks they sent us some videos to do some things at home to keep ourselves fit. Luckily this time has gone now and we can train again in small groups."

bundesliga.com: How have you been trying to stay in shape these days?

Casteels: "I think at home, even without a lot of fitness equipment or weights, you can do a lot. You can go running or for a bicycle ride and do a lot of exercises with your own body weight. This was not a big problem, but it helps if you can come in small groups to the training centre to do some more professional work."

Koen Casteels has been holding on to hopes that the Bundesliga will return sooner rather than later. - Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images

bundesliga.com: What do you do to make sure you get some other things to think about than this crisis we have to deal with?

Casteels: "These days it's not easy to think about different things. Every newspaper you open, it's about the Coronavirus and everything you watch on television. So I just try to play with my daughter, to be outside and do some things there."

bundesliga.com: Have you already been part of any social media challenges? If so, which ones?

Casteels: "No, no, not yet. I saw a lot of them, but didn't do anything because I wasn't nominated, luckily. It's funny that some guys are busy with those things and it's also fun for the fans to follow it."

bundesliga.com: Some of the Wolfsburg squad have helped out locals at supermarkets in recent weeks, how was it to be involved in that?

Casteels: "I think it's a good initiative and those people who have a lot of work now, in hospitals and supermarkets, they need this attention and every help is welcome for them, so it was very nice to help them."

Watch: Wolfsburg earned a draw with RB Leipzig in their final game before the lockdown

bundesliga.com: How mentally demanding is the current situation, not really knowing when life will get back to normal?

Casteels: "Of course, it's difficult, but it's the same for everyone, as a football player, we're no different from anyone in the world and this teaches us that everybody is the same and in the same situation and should follow the guidelines given to us. It's just waiting and hoping it'll go away fast, but it'll take some weeks of being disciplined and following the rules and maybe after that, step-by-step, we can ease these rules a little bit."

bundesliga.com: How do you try to keep the focus and tension within the team? What can be done to help that?

Casteels: "We trained in small groups and we did it very well, but also after three or four days, we did some relaxing work, like football tennis, because there you're not thinking about being ready for the next game, more about having fun and I think that shouldn't be forgotten these days."

bundesliga.com: There's now more time to spend on other things than daily football life, do you find out new things about yourself these days?

Casteels: "Not really. We have a lot of time and like I said, we can use it to be with the family. Of course, it helps that the weather is very nice, so we can be outside in the garden a lot, but there's not a lot I've discovered about myself, no."

Koen Casteels has been working on his coaching badges from home during the coronavirus lockdown. - Oliver Hardt/Bundesliga/DFL via Getty Images

bundesliga.com: Are you using this time to learn or re-learn any skills?

Casteels: "What we're doing with the national team - but we already planned it before the Coronavirus - is that we had the ability to follow a coaching course, so the UEFA A and B licence, and due to the virus now the lessons are online. So when we should be together with the national team in the hotel, we could follow two or three hours of a session, so now those lessons are online. That's one thing I'm following now and it's fun to it as an online course."

bundesliga.com: What are your personal recommendations for how football fans can stay happy and entertained during their time at home?

Casteels: "I think on television they're showing a lot of games from the past and they're always good games or ones which are memorable, so I think it's nice to review them. I think fans should also stay at home and enjoy their family a bit more on the weekends than they normally do. And we're hoping that the Bundesliga and the international competitions are starting soon."

bundesliga.com: What would be your message to fans during this difficult time?

Casteels: "I don't know what to recommend to do them. I think it's fun to watch some games from earlier, I think Wolfsburg also sent out the game against Real Madrid, I watched the highlights. Even for me, it's nice to look back."

bundesliga.com: Let's talk about football now, how would rate Wolfsburg's season so far?

Casteels: "I think there have been ups and downs. We had a very good start, then had some difficulties. In the last games, we played some good football, got some points as well. Overall, we can be positive and hopefully when the season continues we can win a lot of games, have a nice finish and see where we stand."

bundesliga.com: Wolfsburg have played pretty well in the last six games. Did the temporary break come at the wrong moment?

Casteels: "Maybe yes, maybe no, we'll know when we play again, then we can say if it helped or if it was a little negative for us."

bundesliga.com: Could the break be a chance to regroup and restart for struggling teams?

Casteels: "Regrouping these days is difficult as you cannot be together. I think the situation for everybody is difficult, nobody knows when we'll continue, so it's difficult to organise as well. You cannot say this is the date we're working towards this game, something new can happen at any hour. So it's just waiting and I think when they make a decision, we'll still have a lot of time, at least two or three good weeks of training, before we start the games."

Koen Casteels is looking to lead Wolfsburg to a place in Europe when the Bundesliga season does make its return - DFL

bundesliga.com: What are your goals and ambitions for the remainder of the season?

Casteels: "Yeah, I think to win as many games as we can and in the end, we'll see where we stand. Our goal is to get one place up, but that is the goal for every team in these positions, so we just need to focus game by game, as we did in the last games as well, not thinking about where we want to be just thinking about wanting to win the next game. I think that's the most important for success."

bundesliga.com: It's a tight race for sixth place, would finishing in that spot be a happy end to this season?

Casteels: "Like I said, we want to win as many games as possible and if we succeed in that, maybe we can be one or two places higher. You don't know, it's still nine games and a lot of points to play for. We will have to see."

bundesliga.com: Over the course of the season you stopped 71 per cent of shots on goal, that's the third-best in the league. How happy are you with the way you performed this season?

Casteels: "Yeah, I think I can be happy. I think last season was a little bit better, but I'm quite stable and the team can rely on me, so I'm quite happy, not only with the stats but also the way I played. There's always room for improvement and I'm trying to reach that."

Watch: Casteels' incredible save from Coutinho (from 1:00)

bundesliga.com: Is there any particular moment or save that you made which would make you say 'wow, that was the best or most special of the season'?

Casteels: "Maybe my save against [Philippe] Coutinho, against Bayern Munich, that was it I think. I anticipated it a little bit, because I know him and he always shoots, well not always, but a lot of the time he shoots in the far corner, so I think if I don't anticipate a bit there, it would be a goal. It was a nice save."

bundesliga.com: You missed eight games due to injury last autumn, how did you cope with that annoying situation?

Casteels: "This is part of football. It was my second injury, only three or four games after my first. Mentally, it's not easy, but the only thing you're thinking of is wanting to be fit as fast as possible. Also, in those moments you realise how fun it is to be healthy, fit and play football. That reminds you that every time you go onto the pitch, you have to enjoy it and be happy you can play football."

bundesliga.com: In December you extended your contract that now ends in 2024. Being in Wolfsburg now since 2015, would you say this is your first home by now?

Casteels: "Yeah, now it's our first home and if we go back to Belgium, it feels like a holiday and Wolfsburg feels like home. I'm very happy, my family is very happy here, we're enjoying our time here, so I think I can still play many years here."

bundesliga.com: Many football players are superstitious or at least have a special routine before games. Do you have a certain habit before you go out on the pitch?

Casteels: "Not special, but you have some routines, but that's more like the game preparation with the team. I used to put my right shin pad on first, then my left, but I don't do it anymore. I don't know why, I'm just not that superstitious anymore. I'm just preparing normally and of course, you have some routines for the whole team. Nothing special."

bundesliga.com: Who is your best friend in the team and why?

Casteels: "It's difficult to say just one guy. I'm friends with or relate well to everyone. Wout [Weghorst], as he's also speaking Dutch, it's easy to communicate with him, not that my German is bad. He's one of the guys I speak a lot with. As the vice-captain, you have to speak with a lot of guys and I think it's going very well."