Daniel Caligiuri: No one expected it before the season

Daniel Caligiuri was a revelation in the 2017/2018 season, setting up ten goals for his teammates along the way. The German-Italian midfielder was also surprisingly dangerous in front of goal, adding six goals as well. In an interview with Schalke04.de, Caligiuri looks back on a season of both personal and collective success, before sharing his thoughts on the tour in China, the first few friendlies and staying in contact with former teammates.

Daniel, you’ve been in China over the last few days preparing for next season. What impressed you most about the country?
The whole of China impressed me – the size of the country, how many people live here. It’s a completely different world to Germany. It’s always amazing to be in China, even if the temperatures are obviously a little problematic at times. The humidity levels here are much higher than back home, so we’re not really used to that. Training was much more intense as a result. Thankfully your body can adjust fairly quickly. It was even muggier last year though, so in that respect I’m glad!

The first friendly against Southampton ended in a 3-3 draw. You went one step better in the second game against Hebei China Fortune, securing a late 3-1 win. How reflective are these results of where the team is at?
For the first two friendlies there were definitely some good things to take away. We did a lot of things right. There were other things which weren’t so good though, but that’s normal for this stage. We still have quite a bit of time before the games start to count.

Matchday 1 in the Bundesliga will see you take on your former club. Did you hear anything from Wolfsburg once the schedule was released? Or did you perhaps get in contact with some of you old mates via WhatsApp?
I’m still in touch with one or two guys from Wolfsburg. I sent them a message straightaway saying: ‘See you on matchday 1 in Wolfsburg’. We all look forward to seeing each other again. We’ll have to wait and see who has the last laugh after the game.

Talking of laughing, after the Hangover film was released, almost everyone is aware of the phrase ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. Can you tell us a bit about your holiday in the USA?
I’ve got no big secrets to share (laughs). I was just with my wife in the States and then Mexico after that. It was the first time that both of us had been there and we had an amazing time. I even met an Alan lookalike while I was in Vegas, as in the character from the film.

How long were you away for?
20 days in total: from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and then down to Mexico. The first thing we did in Vegas was go to a Jennifer Lopez concert, which was her 100th in the city. We then went to see a game in the Stanley Cup finals, which is essentially the final of North American ice hockey. It was a massive event, like a big party. Then we did a helicopter trip through the Grand Canyon. In Mexico it was mainly about just chilling out and taking it easy.

It’s easy to get to the top, but it’s very hard to stay there.

Daniel Caligiuri

Did you also get to take some time to reflect on last season? According to the opinions of various experts it was the best season of your career.
Well thanks very much to the experts (laughs). It was a very successful season for both me and the team. No one expected us to do as well as we did. When you get to the offseason you obviously have a bit of time to think about what challenges are to come – especially the Champions League. We have a lot of hard work left to do. As they say: it’s easy to get to the top, but it’s hard to stay there. And we want to prove that we can do exactly that.

Every players has been given their own individual training plan. What does yours look like?
We had the first two or three weeks off, which meant we could take a bit of time to recover and recuperate from a hard season. In the days after that, more and more physical activity was on the agenda. Everything is going according to plan for me so far.

And was Domenico Tedesco happy with your fitness levels?
He hasn’t yet come up to me and complained about my results, so I hope that everything was up to scratch (laughs).

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