Axel Witsel: «I’m the one who’s always calm and relaxed»

«Zenit’s»  midfielder, in an interview with FIFA’s official site, spoke about his strong sides, his nickname and his idols. 

— I’ve always had a good relationship with the media, both in Belgium and Portugal and now in Russia. The championship here doesn’t get that much media coverage, and there wasn’t much said about me when I arrived at Zenit. That all changed, though, when Hulk and the rest of them came here. The World Cup also had a big part to play, and I’m more in the spotlight now that I used to be. I like that, though it’s just another part of the job and you don’t really have much of a choice.

— I’m the one who’s always calm and relaxed. I’m like the wise one (laughs). My nickname is Chaloupe (meaning «rolling gait » in French) because of my style, the way I am and the way I walk and dribble with the ball. Siramana Dembele, who was with me at Standard, gave me the name when I was 18. Then everyone started calling me Chaloupe.

— I think my biggest attribute is the way I shield the ball and the face that I don’t tend to give it away. Even though I play in a different position to him, Zinedine Zidane has always been an idol of mine. With his control of the ball and his skill, he’s the best in the world. I also love Andrea Pirlo. He’s pure class. He plays a little more defensively than me. They’re two players who’ve inspired me to keep working on my game, especially with my left foot and my long passing. 

You can read the interview in its entirety from