Lukas Rupp has been at Norwich City for over a year now having joined the club from 1899 Hoffenheim.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the German though. Covid-19, suspension of football and then relegation from the Premier League meant it was a difficult first six months for the midfielder in what was his first time living and playing football in a foreign country.
However, this season things on the football pitch are going a lot better, for him and for Norwich, and he is now taking things one step at a time as the club look for a return to the topflight. In a feature for our matchday programme OTBC, for Saturday's game against Rotherham United, he talked about Norwich’s position in the table, the Championship and what life is like for him now in England.
OTBC: There are plenty of games in the Championship season to go and the team is well placed at the top of the table. What is the mood like at the Lotus Training Centre at the moment?
Lukas: This week it is, of course, better than the last week because we didn’t get the points that we wanted the week before (against Swansea, Millwall and Middlesbrough). The games were not too bad for us, but we wanted to win and it was difficult against Boro and Millwall and then at Swansea and we lost. We didn’t need to lose this game, but we made two mistakes and the quality is too good at this level. Now, after Stoke, the mood is much better.
OTBC: The team has been good at bouncing back from defeats this season as well. I think of the previous losses against Derby County, Luton Town and Watford, the team has shown strong resilience to go on winning runs following those losses. It shows a good strength of character doesn’t it?
Lukas: For sure, this is important. Going into Stoke we had a good week, long sessions Tuesday and Wednesday, to prepare for the game and we were strong in our minds. We know you can lose a game on this level but you need to be mentally strong and that is one of our characteristics, I think.
OTBC: How much of a plus is it within the squad to have players that were promoted from the Championship two years ago and a manager who has also achieved promotion from this division?
Lukas: It is difficult to say. I would rather say it is plus that we have more games at Premier League level than Championship level but it is like that. I spoke to the guys who were involved in the last Championship season and they said that it is a bit different to the previous season. Every season is separate, so you have to be focused on this season and don’t look back to the Championship two years ago. It makes no sense to me. Of course, it is important to have a lot of guys that have played at this level, but every season is a new season, so it doesn’t matter for me.
OTBC: And every game is a new game as well and I guess that is important to remember. It is important to focus on the game in front and not to look too far ahead.
Lukas: In the Championship there are so many games and, like you said, there are plenty of games to go and everyone said after the loss against Swansea ‘oh, it is going to be difficult’ and the fans' mood wasn’t really good, but if you look at the table there are so many points still to play for. We have to focus now on the next game and try to win this and if not then the next game after that. We have everything in our own hands, so we have to stay positive.
OTBC: Norwich have also got a really good squad. It has a lot of strength in depth, especially in midfield. How much do you have to be on top of your game, both in training and during matches, to get one of those starting XI spots in Daniel Farke’s midfield?
Lukas: It is, of course, difficult when the team has so much quality not just in midfield but in all positions, I think. You have to be good in training, you have to perform in the game. Of course, sometimes you have to win a game and you need a bit of luck to stay in the team. I think that the last few games were not really bad from us but if you lose and draw then the boss wants to change something and that is the business, but you have to be on your top level every day in training and in the games as well.
OTBC: It has been over a year now since you moved to England from Germany and you spent most of your playing career playing in the Bundesliga. How does English football compare to German football?
Lukas: The Championship is a bit different to the Premier League, of course. The Championship, for me, is a bit more kick and rush. It is a lot of physical guys, who are strong. In the Premier League they are all very good on the ball, they are strong, and they are quick. In Germany, it is a bit more tactical, I think. Everyone knows exactly where to run and when. It is not that physical, and it is not that quick compared to here in the UK.
OTBC: The world has been badly hit by Covid-19 during the past 12 months, but how are you enjoying life in England and are you settled here now?
Lukas: I think enjoying is the wrong word at the moment. You cannot do a lot. I am at home all the time. Just for training and the away games I am out of the house, and to go to the supermarket as well, but I like the UK in general. I have family in London, my brother is living there. I, of course, knew some of the lads before I came here and I settled in fine but the situation with Covid-19 makes everything a bit difficult for me because it is the first time for me in a foreign country but, in general, I like everything here.