I got the opportunity to talk with Red Bull Salzburg defender Andre Wisdom. The 23 year-old is currently on loan from Premier League side Liverpool and his previous clubs include Derby County, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. He has also made a number of caps for the England under-21 team. You can alternatively listen to the interview on Soundcloud.
I found out how Andre Wisdom is finding life and adapting to life in Austria after a few months away from England.
”I’m finding it here in Salzburg really good, it’s a bit of a change compared to England with the language, driving on the other side of the road, just a few different little things. So far it’s been good. The football is really good, the people are welcoming and I am getting along with all my team-mates – even though there is a little bit of a barrier with the language but near enough everyone can speak English and I’m picking up the odd little German word or phrase, when I say little it really is very little. Yeah, it’s been really good so far, I’m enjoying it and there’s a good atmosphere here. It’s good to work with the team and players.”
”Yeah it’s good, everyone is friendly. I’ve been around Salzburg and I’ve seen a few costumers but I can’t actually pronounce what they’re actually wearing, so I won’t try to, but everyone will know what I mean by the little leprechaun, I think that little green shorts and the shoes. So yeah it looks pretty good and obviously it’s Christmas time now so the city centre is pretty lively and there’s a lot of tourists coming here. A lot of the locals are out in the Christmas markets. From England, I think here in Austria it’s a bit more relaxed, it looks like they enjoy their life here. In England, everyone seems so stressed and when you’re walking down the street people are walking 100 miles per hour and here it seems very relaxed and a very nice welcoming place. It’s good. I quite like it because I’m more of a chill-type, take things a little slower than maybe I should but yeah it’s a nice vibe and I like the culture here.”
Wisdom then moved onto the coaching in Austria, and how it differs from Football, especially with the Red Bull Salzburg manager Óscar García Junyent.
”I’d say the approach is pretty much the same. Obviously we’ve got a Spanish manager (Óscar García) here and he’s worked in different countries before, England being one of them, his methods are ‘his’ methods really. I wouldn’t say his coaching says everyone in Austria is the same because every culture is different but he’s managed in England as well before – Brighton and Watford – so he probably had to change his coaching style coming to Austria from England and visa versa probably. He had to do things differently in England that he perhaps hasn’t done here. Overall, I think the coaching is really good. He’s an intelligent manager, he wants us to play football and wants us to give 100% in every game no matter what game it is, friendly, training or a competitive game, so the coaching is really good overall. From England to Austria, that’s tough because every manager is different. I’ve had managers in England and obviously now I’m in Austria I can see they have got some similarities and some differences. So every manager is just different. He’s managerial skills are really good.”
A lot of footballers like to make a mark for themselves and tell their first-team manager why they deserve to be in the first-team during a loan spell and that is something Andre is working towards during his time in Austria. He also goes on to say how his game, as an English defender, suits football in Europe more than it does perhaps in his homeland.
”My game, maybe it does suit a little bit more European style because I wouldn’t say I’m so aggressive and to play in England as a defender you got to be very aggressive. There’s only one player who I don’t think fits the English type of defender, which would be John Stones. He’s more of a European type of a defender but personally in my game, I’m not even too sure because you try adapt to any game you play in. You could be playing against an English team or a European team and obviously it’s going to change how your tactics are, how aggressive you need to be or what the demands are of the game. So that’s a difficult question, I’m not too sure. I’ll just try and work as best as possible in my whatever position I’m playing in.”
”You’ve always got goals to achieve and improvements to make, no matter what age you are, what team you’re in or where you’re playing. Personally, mine was to improve all around as a person, as a football player, become mentally stronger and challenge myself. Which I did whilst coming abroad and coming out of my comfort zone – which would be playing in England – just doing the norm there and maybe just playing or not playing. So to come here and challenge myself and put myself in a different environment, around people who speak different languages and play a different type of football was good for me. Hopefully it will make me improve, maybe I won’t see it just yet but long-term it might help me. So to improve on is everything. You always want to improve, you don’t just want to improve on one thing – if I was a striker I could say ‘okay, I need to score more goals’ but as a defender you’re working more as a unit, and I could say to improve on passing or heading but generally as a football player you just want to improve on everything and try to improve yourself, which can improve the team and hopefully we can just win games to get what we deserve.”
The final subject Andre Wisdom touched on was the lack of English players plying their trade abroad, having seen recent examples not live up to expectations such as Ravel Morrison at Lazio or Joleon Lescott in Greece, but suggests what they could do to overcome that fear factor from his own experience after the move to Austria in the summer.
”Knowing myself, and other football players, I wouldn’t say they’re scared to go abroad. Maybe they’re having a good time in England or where they’re playing, maybe their family is from there, it’s best for them to be in England for their state of mind. But if a good opportunity comes in a different country and you want it, it’s only a flight away. or some places you might drive to even though it might take 20 hours but it’s not that far. It’s for your career and for what you love, football, then I’d say go for it. Football is only a short career, most only play until they’re 35 if they are lucky, so always just go for it. We’ll be finished before we know it and you can say ‘I’ve got somethings which I’m really proud of and achieved, and that was a good part of my life’. But I wouldn’t say people are scared to go abroad, it’s just that bit of stepping out the comfort zone and testing yourself. Maybe you’ve grown up in England, where I’m from, and you’ve got all your family and friends there – nothing abroad has really appealed to you or maybe no one’s been interested from abroad. But if the opportunity does come and you do have doubts then think about it as a job; ‘I love the game’; then learning a new language and fitting into different cultures is the easy part. It’s the football you’ll enjoy and something new and different.”