Stephan Lichtsteiner is away on international duty, and spoke to Swiss newspaper ‘NZZ Neue Zürcher Zeitung‘ about how things are going for him at Arsenal, and what the future might hold.
Arseblog News reader Florian has provided us with a translation, so thanks very much to him, and here’s what the veteran had to say.
You are 35 years old. Are you feeling your body?
Barely. I’m feeling good. Not bad at 35 years, right?
What’s your motivation?
I want to set new boundaries. Always achieve new goals. After the first Italian championship I wanted the second. After the sixth one the seventh one. After the first Champions League final I wanted the second one. After the 80th international cap the 100th. I have been asked many times whether I will finish my career on the peak. But what’s the peak in a successful career? My challenge is: It’s always going onward. Until at some point it’s not possible anymore.
For me retiring has never been an option. I have high goals, and I like challenges. That’s why I signed for Arsenal in the summer. My family and I were doing wonderfully in Turin, we were almost Italians. But I noticed that I wanted to break out of the comfort zone once again. I want to continue to prove myself.
You said lately that you’ve come to terms with playing less at Arsenal.
Yes, I’m 35 years old, I need a bit more recovery time. I’m not mad if I’m not starting. And yes, I’m in a good position. I’ve had a top career. I’m calm, and I’m enjoying it.
You are playing sporadically at Arsenal. Is this altering your status in the national team?
I don‘t think so. Arsenal is a top club. It’s obviously more difficult there to play every time. I’ve come to a new country, a new club. I’ve had to get to know a new culture, new people, a new league, new tactics. That needs time. The fact that I’m playing at a top club at 35 years says enough.
How different are the English and the Italian leagues?
The difference is big. In Italy the tactical level is higher. On the other hand in England the rhythm is incredibly rapid. There are six absolute top teams and then seven more very good sides with a lot of great players.
What are you going to do once your career has finished?
I don’t know. I have a couple of ideas. It could be coaching, but it’s all open. What I do know is that I’m going to switch off for a while. Gain distance. Do things that I could never do in the past years. Ski with the kids, go on vacation for longer and more often.
How are you doing in London?
Good thus far. We are anxious what will happen with Brexit. Maybe they will kick us out of the country tomorrow! Seriously: It’s all good. Turin was great. In one hour you were in the mountains, in one and a half hours at the sea, in two hours in Switzerland. Now it’s all more difficult, but we are feeling well. The kids are already speaking English perfectly.
For how long will you be able to continue playing?
I don’t know. In my age and at this level the strength does not decrease slowly anymore but rapidly. Of course I could go to America or somewhere where the level is lower. But my desire is to play against the best. What I do know: I don’t want to move my home three times.
Will you extend your contract at Arsenal?
There were talks. We will have to see if it fits both sides. Arsenal are a big club, I’m feeling very well, but with regards to the European Championship I want to play regularly. This year it’s been okay. However, if the coach says that he does not count on me anymore, I will have to think.