“My goal is to keep proving myself every day”

Ilia Gruev in the Mixed Zone

 Ilia Gruev in the wohninvest WESERSTADION in front of the Werder badge
Ilia Gruev's journey at Werder has only just begun. (photo: WERDER.DE).
First Team
Monday, 27.06.2022 / 15:35

It was a decision based on the club, said Ilia Gruev after extending his contract with Werder. The defensive midfielder had other offers, but he firmly believes that Bremen is the place where he can further his development. “Especially after the talks with Frank Baumann, I realised that this is the path for me, so I made a conscious decision with this club in mind.” In Monday’s media round, however, Gruev explained that there were also other factors that contributed to his decision.

“I believe I have the chance to continue my development and to establish myself in the Bundesliga here at Werder,” said Gruev. The 22-year-old is aware that he could fill the number six position at the club for a long time, and is also aware of the challenges that come with it. A good number six needs to be able to read the game and needs a good passing ability. They need to be able to lead and defend consistently. “I can learn a lot from Grosso in this respect. I benefit from his experience and the calmness that he exudes. We have a good relationship and we even sit next to each other in the dressing room,” explained Gruev.

Gruev also believes that the ability to make quick decisions is important for a defensive midfielder. “It feels like every year the standard is getting higher and higher and we have to be ready for that. Athleticism is of course key, but the ability to think quickly is also very important. I think I am well positioned in that respect.” He doesn’t, however, see Christian Groß as a rival in his position: “I simply have to do my job, prove myself in pre-season and then in the Bundesliga. My goal is to keep proving myself every day. Then it is up to the coach to decide when and where I play. I am a young player and I am less experienced than other members of the group. But I know how to be humble.”

Despite his humility, Gruev believes that the friendly against VfB Oldeburg didn’t quite go to plan. However, he stressed that his side should not get bogged down by the defeat: “Of course, a result like that should not happen. But we only had three days of training together before the game. Things will definitely change in the next few weeks.” Werder also have the training camp in Zillertal coming up: “Of course the training camp will be tough, but that is the point. I am looking forward to spending time with my teammates. We will give everything to develop our chemistry and to get back to a high level.”

Gruev hopes that playing football at this “high level” will open the door to the Bulgaria national team. The youngster has already featured twelve times for the Bulgaria U21s. “The national team is of course on my mind. I have been in contact with the coach and I hope that I will be picked in September. I would be delighted to come up against the best in Europe with them.”

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