Vickie Remoe Institute of Digital Communications

Antonio Rudiger Celebrates Champions League Victory with Sierra Leone

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German Defender Honors Heritage After Real Madrid’s 2024 Triumph

Antonio Rudiger, Real Madrid’s defender, celebrated their Champions League victory uniquely and heartfeltly. After Real Madrid clinched the 2024 UEFA Champions League title with a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium, Rudiger proudly and passionately displayed the Sierra Leonean flag while captured on camera yelling “Sierra Leone” repeatedly, paying tribute to his roots.

 

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The final, crucial goals from Spanish defender Dani Carvajal and Brazilian attacker Vinicius Jr., who scored in the 74th and 83rd minutes, respectively, sealed Real Madrid’s victory. This win marked Real Madrid’s 15th overall Champions League title and sixth in the last decade.

Rudiger’s performances throughout the Champions League campaign were instrumental in Real Madrid’s success. Notably, his decisive penalty in the quarter-finals against reigning champions Manchester City was a turning point in their journey to the final.

Who is Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger is a first-choice center-defender for the German national team and Spanish top flite club Real Madrid. Rudiger was born in Berlin to an Afro-German father, Matthias, and a Sierra Leonean mother, Lily. He grew up in Neukölln, famous for being one of the roughest neighborhoods in Berlin.

Antonio Rudiger, also the half-brother of Sahr Senesie, started his career at VfB Stuttgart, playing for their reserves in the 3. Liga and the first team in the Bundesliga. In 2015, he joined Roma on loan, then permanently for €9 million; two seasons later, Chelsea signed him for around £27 million. At Chelsea, he won the FA Cup in his first season, the UEFA Europa League in his second, and the UEFA Champions League in 2021. In 2022, he moved to Real Madrid.

The 31-year-old made his international debut for Germany in May 2014. He went on to win the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, a year after missing out on the UEFA Euro competition due to injury. In 2018, he represented the Mannschaft at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Despite spending most of his early years in Germany, Rudiger is said to speak at least three languages to varying degrees, with his most fluent being German, followed by English, French, Italian, and a bit of Spanish and Krio.

Rudiger’s Strong Relationship with Sierra Leone | A Philanthropist

Rudiger has always maintained a strong connection to his heritage since realizing that his mother fled the West African nations due to civil war. Beyond his on-field achievements, he is deeply involved in philanthropic efforts in Sierra Leone. In 2022, Rudiger launched a foundation to support education in the country; later that year, he also donated all of his FIFA World Cup earnings through the Big Shoe Foundation to help carry out leg operations on eleven children who could walk again after successful surgeries.

In recognition of his contributions and strong ties to Sierra Leone, Rudiger was appointed as the ‘Brand Global Sierra Leone Football Ambassador’ by Sierra Leonean President Dr. Julius Maada Bio in 2022. He was later granted a diplomatic passport and was featured on a music video that was shot in Freetown for a song dedicated to him titled “Rudiger” by Alonzo, further solidifying his status as a significant figure for the nation.

Rudiger is the first Sierra Leonean to win the UEFA Champions League

Being crowned as the 2023/2024 champions of Europe adds to Rudiger’s previous Champions League triumphs, having won the title with Chelsea before his current success with Real Madrid, making it his second European silverware with the Spanish side.

With this victory, Rudiger has made history as the first Sierra Leonean native to win at least three UEFA Champions League titles and the first Sierra Leonean native to win the UEFA Champions League titles with two different clubs.

Rudiger is the second Sierra Leonean to have graced the highest-rated UEFA Champions League competition, after legendary Mohamed Kallon, another instrumental player in the 2002-2003 Champions League competitions as he helped Inter Milan reach the semi-finals stage that year.

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