Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is already one of the best centre-backs in the world currently. The 27-year-old is already in his 10th season at the Bernabeu and has made 355 appearances so far. He has also appeared 73 times for France, winning the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Varane has now revealed in a recent interview that he has a “warrior mentality” and that he welcomes pressure as a “friend”, something which is a “driving force” which helps him play better with more intensity on the pitch
“For me, pressure is a friend. It’s a driving force. I think pressure makes you better. It gives you adrenaline and helps you think faster, stay more focused and play the game more intensely. I’d say that terrifying pressure should motivate you, since you run faster when you’re scared,” he told UEFA’s official website.
“I don’t think my style of play makes you immediately think that I’m a warrior. However, I recognise that I have a warrior mentality. I quite like challenges. The more difficult the challenge, the more I enjoy it. The less you believe in me, the more motivated I am. That’s my way of being and thinking, and that’s what helped me reach the highest level and stay there for many years.”
“I’d say it’s natural and innate, and then it just develops through whatever you experience. In my case, it was the daily challenge of trying to beat my older brother in order to reach his level and improve. I would cry if I didn’t meet my objectives. So, that pressure to win and to outdo myself has been in me ever since I was a kid, and it’ll be with me for my entire life.”
“Is all that pressure worthwhile once you get to lift a big trophy like the Champions League? Yes! It is worth it. You put in a lot of effort. When you play at the highest level, you’re constantly questioning yourself, stretching your limits and trying to be more focused and better. It’s hard to stay at the highest level because it requires a lot of effort.”
“As I said, there are highs and lows, but when you’re on a high – and it’s happened to me every time – you have to remember your hard times, whether it was during your childhood, when you were trying to make it to the top, or when you were already at the top.”
“You have to think: ‘We’ve suffered, we’ve been through hard times, we’ve had to fight to get here, and now we’ve made it.’ Every time, I feel such a mix of emotions. The higher the pressure, the more emotional it is. Every time, it’s an explosion of joy.”
Real Madrid have a tough week ahead. They will play against Liverpool in a two-legged Champions League quarter-final tie with the El Clasico in between. With club captain Sergio Ramos out injured, Varane will have to take extra responsibility to solidify the defence and enhance their chances of coming out of the week with their head held high.