Jerzy Dudek: Real Madrid a great place to be

I must say these first weeks in the Liga have been a fantastic experience. The intensity of the coverage in Madrid is incredible - it's certainly a lot more relaxed in Liverpool. I know that we'll have our form drops this season, but in the meantime it's been a wonderful ride these first couple of weeks.

The victory at Villarreal was brilliant for the lads and the welcome everyone received back in Madrid was an eye-opener for me. I don't think I can undersell how important it was for us to get the Liga campaign underway in such a spectacular fashion. All the players feel we have the fans with us. It's a wonderful feeling going to training with everyone greeting you with a smile on their face. Valdebebas, just like the Santiago Bernabeu, is buzzing at the moment. You can sense a great positive spirit swirling about the place.

For me, training has been good these last few weeks. My job is to push Iker (Casillas) as much as I can. We get along well, he's a good lad and an exceptional goalkeeper. I joined Real knowing the score, Predrag Mijatovic made it clear to me that I would be signed as backup for Iker and I was happy to accept the role. I'm confident I'll get a chance to play this season, the Copa or perhaps the odd Champions League game, I know I have to stay focused and fit for when I'm called upon.

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I still stay in touch with a lot of people at Liverpool. To be honest, many of my former teammates were very influential in me choosing to join Real. I had other offers from Spain and also Holland and Portugal, but when Real made contact, all the Spaniards at Anfield told me to join. And I haven't regretted it one bit!

Jose Ochotorena also had a big say in convincing me to move to Madrid. Real fans will remember Jose, as will Liverpool supporters as he used be the goalkeeper coach at Anfield. I gave him a call when my agent told me Real had made an approach and he told me to not think twice, 'Go for it, Jerzy. You won't regret it'.

There's been a great exchange of players between the two clubs in recent years. I just hope I can enjoy some of the success Steve McManaman did when he was wearing the Real shirt.

There's a great spirit inside the dressing room. The new boys are mixing well with the established players and guys like Royston Drenthe and Robinho are always cracking jokes and keeping things positive.

Training is serious, however, and coach (Bernd) Schuster expects 100 per cent everytime we're on the field. There was a lot of concern from fans and pundits about our preseason form, but what wasn't covered is that our preparation was tailored to the start of the season, not the friendly games. So, sometimes a flat performance would be due to some hard training sessions in the days leading up to the game, rather than any sudden drop off of form.

The coaching staff at Real have now been proved right after our great start. We know it's only the start of the season, but all signs are that things are looking very, very positive.

It's of course international week and I thought it was a courageous performance from us in Portugal on Saturday. As a fellow keeper, I felt for Ricardo, we've all had games like that, but as a Pole I was absolutely delighted to come away with a point. We're still top of the group and can feel about our chances after such an important result in Portugal.

I've been getting plenty of emails from fans to jerzydudek.eu asking me to update the English section of the website. I promise it will be done later this month! There's a lot to talk about and while Polish readers can follow my regular diary entries, I will soon do the same for my English-speaking fans.

So make sure you check out jerzydudek.eu for more updates - and also tribalfootball.com for next month's big column.

 

For more from Jerzy, check out his official personal website: jerzydudek.eu

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