Working from home followed by homework for Jean-Clair Todibo

It only took Jean-Clair Todibo a matter of weeks after his move from Barcelona to show that he was a quality addition to the Schalke squad. The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has ground football to a halt though, forcing the players to train individually. schalke04.de caught up with the Frenchman from his home.

Jean-Clair, the thing we want to ask first is the most important during these difficult times: how are you?
Health-wise, I’m perfectly fine. I haven’t had any problems and am just doing my training programme every day to stay fit. I speak to my family back in France on the phone every now and again – they’re doing just fine too, thankfully.

As you mention, youre away from your family at the moment. Whos supporting you with the day-to-day stuff?
The most important contact for me is [Schalke’s head of integration and support] Massimo Mariotti. He had already been such a big help even before the pandemic and has played a big part in me settling in so quickly in these new surroundings after moving to Germany from Barcelona. Whenever I have a question, Massimo is always available to help me out.

Like the rest of your teammates, youre training at home at the moment. What does your regime look like?
I go for a run every day. The coaches have put together and individual plan for every player which tells us what running exercises we should be doing. The club has also provided us with an ergometer exercise bike, resistance bands, medicine balls, weights and other training equipment that I can use in my apartment. The club has done a really good job at organising everything at such short notice.

What do you miss most in your training routine?
That’s easy: my teammates! Just the whole atmosphere and the feeling of going to the training ground, getting changed, walking out onto the pitch together and kicking the ball around. And then that moment afterwards where you’re sitting in the locker room and you know that you’ve had a good training session.

The club has done a really good job of organising everything at such short notice.

Jean-Clair Todibo

The Schalke fans recently voted you Player of the Month for February. What does an accolade like that mean to you?
It’s a huge honour. I was thrilled when I heard that the fans had voted for me. It gave me an extra push, so it’s a real shame that I can’t repay that faith out on the pitch at the moment.

Looking at your first few games in Schalke colours, it seems as though you haven’t had any issues adjusting.
The team helped my settle in straightaway, which was important mentally. However, in the first few weeks I really had to work hard on a number of little things that a lot of people wouldn’t even think about; there were a lot of tactical nuances to get to grips with, as every team plays differently. It took a few days before I had internalised the coaches’ ideas and approach. The first few games really gave me a good feeling overall though.

What feedback did David Wagner give you after your first few games?
The coach told me that he was generally happy with my performances. Of course, there are always details that you have to work on. I know which areas I still need to improve and I get a lot of guidance in that department from the coaching staff.

You speak English with the coach. Are you using this down time away from your individual training to learn German?
Absolutely. My two German teachers, that’s Massimo and Bodo Menze, regularly give me stuff to work on. I get homework like at school and I spend a good amount of time on it. I have learnt a lot in the last couple of weeks already. I can introduce myself to people, for example, and ask them how they are. I’m also studying football vocabulary, of course, so that it’s easier to communicate with my teammates out on the pitch.

Our final question is one for everyone else sitting at home can you recommend our fans a film or TV series to help pass the time until football returns?
I’m watching ‘The Last Kingdom’ on Netflix at the moment. It’s set in the ninth century and there are already three seasons. I always looks forward to watching another episode once I’m done with training and my German homework.

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