Sildillia: “Kick off a new winning run”

Photo: Achim Keller
First Team

Ahead of Sunday’s home fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt, we spoke French centre-back Kiliann Sildillia (19), who gave his first interview in German. Kiliann, what did you imagine Freiburg to be like when you arrived a year and a half ago?

Kiliann Sildillia: To be honest, just as it turned out to be in reality - a beautiful, quiet city and a family club, so I was well prepared.

What about the German language: where does your talent for German come from?

I don’t know if you can call it a talent (he laughs), but I did take German in school for two years and it has improved since being in Freiburg. Now it’s pretty good.

Are there still things here that are strange for you though?

In Metz I had my family around me but here in Freiburg I’m on my own. The football is different, of course, and the food as well, but otherwise I don’t see too big a difference.

Do you miss the food in France?

I never had a favourite French food, so I basically eat everything. I miss my mum’s cooking, such as Colombo du Poulet (a dish from Guadeloupe made with chicken).

You said recently that laughter is part of a good day, and we always see you laughing. Where does your good mood come from?

I’m not sure, I always try to see the positives in life and push aside negatives. That may have made my life a bit easier here as well. I have never been afraid to make mistakes when speaking German. I just speak in whatever situation I am in, and when I make a mistake I learn from it.

What’s happening for you on the pitch can’t be hurting your mood. At the start of the season you were playing for the U23s in the third division, then were suddenly handed a full first team debut against Leipzig. It’s now been a month since then, how did you find out that you were going to be playing?

I guessed two days before, then on matchday, the coach came to me and said that I would in fact be playing. I was a bit nervous beforehand, but as soon as the referee blew the whistle I was calm, tried to play like it was any other game and put in a good performance.

You couldn’t see any nervousness in you. How come you were so calm?

I had waited a long time for that moment and had always said to myself that when it comes I have to go into the game and do everything I can. If that’s enough, great, and if it’s not I have to work hard and do better the next time.

Was your family in the stadium for your debut?

My mum was there, yes. I was glad that she was able to come and she was very proud. Last year she wasn’t at many of my games because of Corona. She really likes football, however, and at home we always used to watch football on TV together. Maybe she does even more now because of me.

You have had quite a few experiences in a short period of time. Do you have a personal highlight?

My first Bundesliga game was really good and I’ll never forget that, but also the last game against FC Bayern. Playing against the big names in their team was very special.

You were one of six players who were promoted from the U23s to the first team ahead of this season. Does it help that you aren’t alone?

It helps a bit, but I also trained often with the Bundesliga team last season when a lot of things were new. The switch was no longer as tough this year.

You are a centre-back, but in three of your four matches for the first team you have played as a right-back. How was that for you?

It was ok. I played there when I was younger so I knew how to position myself.

Where do you think you can still learn?

A bit in all areas. My development isn’t complete yet and I can definitely improve a lot of things.

Who helps you with that apart from the coaches?

Everyone gives out a few tips. Günni, but also the other centre-backs, and I take everything on board.

Young footballers often have big cars etc. You sometimes come to training by bike or on foot and you have a small car. How come?

Last year, I still didn’t have a driver’s licence and wanted to get it in France which wasn’t easy because of Corona. In summer I managed it and now I have my licence, but I didn’t want to get a big car immediately. In Freiburg, a small one is probably more practical.

Back to sporting matters: SCF take on Eintracht Frankfurt next. How do you want to go about earning your next appearance?

By training well as always, then the coach will decide. I don’t know too much about the opponent, apart from that Flumi (U23 captain Johannes Flum) played there so I could ask him. But we will have a video analysis session before the match, of course.

What gives you confidence that we can pick up points in our upcoming home match?

We didn’t play badly against FC Bayern. If we put in a similar performance against Frankfurt then we can win again and kick off a new winning run.

Interview: Marcel Burger, Sina Ojo

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