Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, Nico Elvedi says he is relishing a rollercoaster Bundesliga title race and that Marco Rose's Borussia Mönchengladbach side may be the best Foals outfit he's played in.
In a wide-ranging interview, the 23-year-old defender lifts the lid on what it's like to work under Rose, the thrill of a title race and how the Swiss connection at Borussia-Park could pay dividends for his country at the UEFA European Championships this summer.
bundesliga.com: What memories do you have from the beginning of your career?
Nico Elvedi: "I moved to FC Zürich at the age of 10, I think, and made my way through the various age groups there until I reached the first team. I played my first game for the men’s team at the age of 17. Everything moved very quickly from then on. I moved to Mönchengladbach at the age of 18 and have been here ever since."
bundesliga.com: You have been at Gladbach for five years now. Time flies, right?
Elvedi: "Yeah, it’s crazy. Almost five years now – the time has gone really quickly. It doesn’t feel like I've been here very long. That's probably because I feel really good here and it’s a great club. That’s why time's flying."
bundesliga.com: Did you expect Gladbach to be such an important part of your career?
Elvedi: "Yes, when I made the move, I pictured myself staying here a long time. I didn't think I'd be able to establish myself as a regular starter as quickly as I did. I'm pleased with my career so far. Lots of people said I made the move too soon and that I should've done one more year in Zurich. But I made the correct decision and I feel very much at home here."
bundesliga.com: Why do Swiss players like Mönchengladbach so much?
Elvedi: "It’s a good question. The scouts are in Switzerland a lot and are finding good players. I suppose also Swiss players know that there is a Swiss group at Mönchengladbach and may feel more comfortable as a result. I don’t know – that could be a reason."
bundesliga.com: Is Borussia Mönchengladbach well regarded in Switzerland?
Elvedi: "Yes, certainly. For me, the number of Swiss players at the club was not the main reason I came here. It made it easier at the beginning of course - I was in contact with Yann [Sommer] before I arrived. We spoke beforehand about the club and everything. It’s nice to have Swiss players around you. It makes your life a little bit easier."
bundesliga.com: Do you feel like the team is better than it has ever been?
Elvedi: "Yes, we have a really good team this season. We also have a coach who is really helping us develop. You could say that this is the best Borussia side. We are challenging at the top. We have a good team and we can achieve a lot this season."
bundesliga.com: What sets Marco Rose apart as a manager?
Elvedi: "He's a coach who closely analyses every game to see how he can help the team develop - last week it was our formation. That’s what makes a good coach. We were able to win the game because of our change in formation."
Watch: Marco Rose's Gladbach under the tactical microscope
bundesliga.com: How is Marco Rose with the players?
Elvedi: "He talks to the players a lot, makes sure to address the concerns of players who may not play very often. He keeps the relationship strong. It's important for the team that every player is involved and gives 100 per cent in training. He has a lot of experience and knows what he's doing. He knows how to communicate effectively with the players and that is what distinguishes him."
bundesliga.com: What have you learned from the Gladbach coaches you have played under?
Elvedi: "I'd say that every coach is different. Lucien Favre brought me here in the first place, but unfortunately I only played under him for three months. I established myself in the team under Andre Schubert, he gave me lots of minutes and I became a regular starter. Dieter Hecking transformed me into a central defender. I consider that to be the perfect position for me. And now with Rose, it's something different again - he has different advice. Every coach has their own strengths."
bundesliga.com: How enjoyable is it to be in the middle of a title battle?
Elvedi: "It’s a lot of fun. It’s great that we're still fighting at the top and that we've proven that we can match the best teams. There's a long way to go this season, but we are feeling good, we have a good group and I think a lot is possible this season."
bundesliga.com: Was the second half of last season a valuable learning experience for you?
Elvedi: "Yes, I think so. We know that we can’t allow ourselves to perform like we did in the second half of last season. That was our aim. We wanted to hit the ground running after the break and build on a good first half of the season. I think we have done exactly that so far. We need to keep working, win our games and we'll see where we finish."
bundesliga.com: What do you expect from this weekend’s game against Hoffenheim?
Elvedi: "I am expecting a difficult match. Hoffenheim also have a very good side and are fighting at the top. They're in the Europa League qualification spots. It would be good for us to increase the gap with a win. We are playing well at home and we've won our last eight home matches. We'd like to extend this run."
bundesliga.com: Have you already booked your flights for the European Championship this summer?
Elvedi: "I am thinking about it, yes. If I keep performing well here, then I'm sure I'll play a part this summer. I have been included in the squad for a European Championships and a World Cup before but never played. It could be the first big tournament in which I can really play a part."
Watch: Relive Elvedi's Foals debut as Gladbach stun Bayern Munich 3-1
bundesliga.com: How important are the Swiss Gladbach players for the national team? Is it an advantage that you all know each other so well?
Elvedi: "We know each other very well from Borussia, of course, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference. We are close with all the other players too and play well together on the pitch. In that sense, I don’t consider it to be a huge advantage that we play together at Borussia. But I know what Yann likes - the way he plays, how he can contribute to our build-up play so it could be helpful."
bundesliga.com: What are your thoughts on your group in the European Championships?
Elvedi: "It's a difficult group but our aim is to qualify. There are some very interesting games against good opponents. Every single player is looking forward to the European Championships and the opportunity to measure themselves against the best."
bundesliga.com: Are you looking forward to facing any specific players this summer?
Elvedi: "If I had to pick out one player, then Sergio Ramos of Spain. I'd like to face him one day."
bundesliga.com: What areas of your game have improved the most in the Bundesliga?
Elvedi: "I'd say my communication has improved the most but it could always be better. Then the added experience that you pick up game by game - that is extremely helpful for a central defender. In general, I'd say I've improved in a number of areas – winning tackles, aerial duels. I've taken a big step forward."
bundesliga.com: Is there anyone in particular who helped you to integrate into the team when you first arrived?
Elvedi: "Yann Sommer helped me a great deal at the beginning to settle in. My parents, too, were here every week or every second week. That made everything much easier."
bundesliga.com: Who is your best friend in the team?
Elvedi: "I get on very well with Laszlo Benes. We've both been at the club for a while now. We often go for meals together and spend time together off the pitch. I'd say he is certainly one of my best friends in the team."
Watch: Elvedi takes part in Gladbach's FIFA final
bundesliga.com: How do you like to spend your time away from football?
Elvedi: "My favourite thing to do is relax at home, watch a film or some television. A bit of PlayStation now and again.”
bundesliga.com: What has been the best moment of your life and why?
Elvedi: "The best moment of my life was making my debut for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Bayern Munich. We were able to win 3-1."
bundesliga.com: And your worst moment?
Elvedi: “My apprenticeship exams that I had to do. I started a commercial apprenticeship in Switzerland. I continued with it for a year after moving to Gladbach. After one year I had to do the exams in Switzerland. I passed!”
bundesliga.com: Who is your most famous follower on Instagram and who's the most famous person you follow?
Elvedi: "My most famous follower on Instagram is Granit Xhaka. The most famous person I follow is Cristiano Ronaldo. I respect how hard he works, the things he does off the pitch to ensure that he is so good on it."
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