Stuttgart - For most players, moving clubs - let along moving country - can come as something of a culture shock, but VfB Stuttgart's has broken the mould since joining the Bundesliga ranks on loan from Chelsea FC over the summer.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 23-year-old defensive midfielder gave his views on adapting to life in Germany and playing in the Bundesliga, as well as outlining his aims for the future.
bundesliga.com: Oriol Romeu, How are you settling in Stuttgart?
Oriol Romeu: I’m trying to settle in as quickly as I can. I’ve been involved in every game so I’m really happy about that. But realistically I would like the team to be in a better position. I think we’ve got a good squad so we have the potential to improve and I hope we can do that soon.
bundesliga.com: You've started all seven of Stuttgart’s Bundesliga games this season despite only joining in the summer. Has that surprised you?
Romeu: I didn’t have any expectations; I prefer to take things day by day. I’m happy to have played the games because I’ve started all of them but I didn’t expect big things. I just wanted to do well in training so that the coach would pick me, and he has done. But our results must get better and we have to improve. That’s what we’ll be working on over the next few weeks.
bundesliga.com: What specifically do you think Stuttgart need to improve?
Romeu: From my point of view you have to look at yourself and ask what you can do better for the team. For example, personally I’m trying to get on the ball more and trying to help the team defensively. I think the main thing to do going forward is to look at yourself and try to improve on your mistakes.
'I will never say no to staying in Stuttgart'
Romeu: We have to do what we did in our last home game against Hannover. They were in good shape and came here having won a few games but we beat them 1-0. We shouldn’t think about how teams have been playing or what position they’re in; we have to focus on ourselves. Against Hannover we pressed them high up the pitch and didn’t give them an easy time. That helped us and gave us confidence to see that we could do it and that we are a good team. We have the players to play well, so we just need to do what we did in that game.
bundesliga.com: You have very impressive statistics this season - for example you have completed 87 per cent of all your passes. What is your secret?
Romeu: (Laughs) I don’t know. They’re just numbers. You have to look at your games and see what you can improve. Maybe I play easy passes and try not to lose the ball cheaply. In some games we play a lot of counterattacks and sometimes you have to slow it down a bit and try to keep the ball for a few minutes so that you can recover and get your breath back.
bundesliga.com: You are one of an increasing number of Spanish players in the Bundesliga. Why are so many of your compatriots coming to Germany?
Romeu: The league is growing, and has grown a lot in the last few years. That’s why people are coming here from other countries, not only from Spain. On television you can see that the stadiums are always full and the atmosphere is huge and really enjoyable, so for a player to come here and play it’s an honour. I’m really pleased to be here in this country and in this league because it’s one of the best in Europe - and in the world. When you see the league from abroad it looks really good and you think ‘hopefully one day I can play there’. So when I had the opportunity to come here I had no doubt that it would be a great experience for me.
bundesliga.com: Do you see yourself staying in Stuttgart?
Romeu: My main objective is to improve my game and I think I can still improve a lot. The Bundesliga is a good league to grow and to become a better player. I want the club to be happy with me and I want to play as much as I can because that will allow me to grow. We’ll see what happens, but now I’m focused on the present and helping the team. I don’t know what will happen in the next few years but I will never say no to staying in Stuttgart because they have treated me amazingly so far and I’m really happy here. I want the club to be happy with me and I want to feel I’m doing a good job.
bundesliga.com: You worked under Roberto Di Matteo when he was at Chelsea. What can you tell us about his mentality and philosophy?
Romeu: I was with him for a year, or maybe even longer. We won the Champions League and had an amazing season under his management. For me he’s a great coach with a big character and a strong personality. He knows how to manage a team in every situation. I remember that even though I wasn’t playing a lot of games under him I was happy with how he managed the team because he was trying to give games to everyone, and I think that’s good. He’s the right coach because he’s got the character and the personality to do what needs to be done. Schalke are a great club and need to be in a good league position because historically that’s where they have been. I think he’s the right man.
Oriol Romeu was talking to Jonathan Stockitt