German international footballer Julian Draxler, who is captaining his team at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, has shared his experience in an open letter to Russian fans and organizers.
Young German captain Draxler, 23, has led his team to this Sunday’s Confederations Cup final in St. Petersburg.
Ahead of the game, he shared his emotions regarding the players' time in Russia in an open letter addressed to Russian fans and tournament organizers, which was published on the German Football Federation's website.
We had a chance to spend three weeks in this wonderful country and now, at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to you. We thank you for the great organization, for the great help with everything, and for an ever-present sense of security.
We would like to thank the Russian Organizing Committee, the staff at the stadiums, hotels and the airports, the volunteers, and directly you, Russian football fans.
The Confed Cup is considered to be a test-run for the World Cup. After three weeks, we can say that Russia has perfectly passed the test.
We have met many people, on the Sochi beach, during the visit to the Kazan Kremlin. The moments with the Russian fans have always been fun for us.
I also know there is so much more to see in giant Russia. We could only visit Sochi, Kazan and St. Petersburg this summer. But we loved what we have seen.
We have played at architecturally impressive stadiums.
We enjoyed the days on the Black Sea coast. It has always been sunny for us.
We have seen how big this country is. It’s 48 times larger than our homeland.
We have tried to make a contribution to the Russian-German relationship beyond the four corner flags. DFB President Reinhard Grindel and DFB-Diversity Officer Thomas Hitzlsperger visited the children's home Don Bosco in Moscow. With a donation of €17,000, an existing football pitch will be renovated there.
For me personally, these have been special days. For the first time, I have been allowed to lead Germany as captain. Here in Russia our young team has grown together. With passion and discipline. All the players have done well, on and off the pitch.
Our summer in Russia is coming to an end. Now the final in St. Petersburg is waiting for us. We say thank you. We say spasiba and do svidaniya. We are looking forward to our return in summer 2018."
The Confederations Cup is currently being hosted in Russia for the first time. The tournament started on June 17, with matches being held across four Russian cities: Moscow, Kazan, Sochi and St. Petersburg.
The tournament’s final game will be played between Germany and Chile at St. Petersburg Stadium on Sunday.