Rausch: Playing at Russia 2018 is my biggest goal in life
Konstantin Rausch was born in a Siberian town with a population of just 8,000
In October, the full back made his debut for Russia against Korea Republic
"Although I grew up in Germany, I have never forgotten about my homeland"
Konstantin Rausch's life story seems straight out of a Hollywood film script: born in the tiny Siberian town of Kozhevnikovo, he moved to Germany with his family aged five and made his name in the Bundesliga. After many years of waiting, he has finally received the call-up to the Russian national team. All that remains now is to write the happy ending.
"For me, a happy ending to this whole story would simply be to play at my home World Cup," the Cologne defender told FIFA.com. "I've dreamed about establishing myself at a Bundesliga club for a long time, but I've dreamed about being called up to the Sbornaya for even longer. Now I want to show that I’m worthy of representing my country at the World Cup. Playing at Russia 2018 is my biggest goal in life. Just imagine: an ordinary lad from Siberia gets onto the pitch at the biggest tournament in the world, which is taking place in his homeland. It would be a dream come true."
It would no doubt be a cause of great celebration for Rausch’s 8,000 fellow townspeople back home in Kozhevnikovo as well.
Fishing on the River Ob "When I end my career and get a bit more spare time," Rausch continued, "I will definitely go back to my home town and see how things are getting on. If I’m honest, I remember practically nothing from my life in Kozhevnikovo. I only know that my granddad, brother and I would often go fishing on the River Ob."
In a region where opportunities to play winter sports are plentiful, Konstantin was nevertheless drawn to football from a very young age.
"My parents say that from the age of two I was constantly playing around with a football and, when I was a little older, I started to carry it with me around my district. I didn’t need a stick and a puck; all I was interested in was a football."
Practising in frosty Siberian conditions has clearly borne fruit, with the 27-year-old Rausch having already played a highly respectable 240 games in Germany’s top flight.
"Everyone in the Bundesliga knows I’m Siberian," the full-back said. "When the temperature in Germany drops below zero, a lot of people start complaining at training, so I tell them, 'Come on, do you think this is cold? Where I’m from, minus 30 is normal!'"
Six years of waiting Rausch publicly stated his desire to represent Russia on the international stage for the first time in January 2011, when he was playing for Hannover 96. However, the national team call-up only came six and a half years later.
The attack-minded left-back made his official debut for the Sbornaya on 7 October, coming on in the second half of the 4-2 friendly win against Korea Republic. A few days later, he was named in the starting line-up for the match against Iran (a 1-1 draw).
At youth level, Rausch represented his adopted country Germany 51 times but never managed to break into the senior squad.
"At the time, the papers were writing that Joachim Low was apparently looking at me, but it never went further than that. Even though I'd had a couple of genuinely good seasons for Hannover, I wouldn’t have had a chance of getting into Die Mannschaft anyway* *– Phillip Lahm was playing in my position then.
"Although I've lived in Germany since childhood, I've never forgotten about my home country. I made up my mind a long time ago: if the opportunity arises, I will play for Russia."
Finally, the thought of facing Germany at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is a mouth-watering prospect for Rausch.
"It would be amazing to play Germany in a Russian stadium," he concluded. "I know probably half the team personally: I played alongside Toni Kroos and Sebastian Rudy at youth level and was at Stuttgart with Antonio Rudiger. I’m good friends with Lars Stindl as well."
Three Russian phrases Rausch recommends all foreign supporters learn before travelling to Russia 2018
• «Спасибо» thank you "Being polite is always important when you’re a guest"
• «Где стадион?» where is the stadium? "The most important question for a football fan"
• «Где лучший ресторан?» where is the best restaurant? **"Refreshments after watching your favourite team are also important"