Rolf Feltscher has been playing for Ibrahimovic club LA Galaxy for more than a year. In an interview with t-online.de the Swiss-Venezuelan talks about his professional career and the tense political situation in Venezuela.
Who is Rolf Feltscher? Many would call him a roaming bird. Born in Bülach in Switzerland, the 28-year-old played in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain and England – before the Swiss-Venezuelan moved to the US.
Since January 2018, Rolf Feltscher has been running for Los Angeles Galaxy with world star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. From there, Venezuela, the land of his mother, is not that far away. But since 2011, Feltscher has been a national player of the crisis-ridden nation.
Hyperinflation, lack of food and medicine, political emergency. Between head of state Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó who are fighting a power struggle at the expense of the population. The national football team no longer plays the matches at home (national coach Raphael Dudamel threatened with a recent dismissal).
In an interview with t-online.de, Feltscher talks about the political crisis in Venezuela, his football career and his life in Los Angeles.
t-online.de: Mr. Feltscher, because of the predicament in the country, the Venezuelan national team, for which you are also active, are playing matches outside the country. How do you experience the situation in Venezuela as a Swiss Venezuelan?
My brother plays in Zulia in the first Venezuelan competition and he told me about the situation on the ground. Sometimes there is no electricity for days, so he has to go to the hotel because there are at least light generators. But many people can't go to the hotel like him because they can't afford it.
How is her brother in this exceptional situation?
We have contact via Whats App and Skype. It is an insanely critical and serious situation in the country. People are not only without light, but partly without water. Of course footballers like my brother are doing relatively well, but most people are just doing poorly.
As you said, the situation is currently very dramatic, food and medicine are scarce …
That is a disaster. In the current situation you absolutely must not travel to Venezuela. Of course, people who have money can normally go to the restaurant or hotel and get what they need.
Decided to play for Venezuela: the Rolf brothers and Frank Feltscher. (Source: t-online.de/imago images)
But most people miss the basic necessities that we take for granted. It lacks shampoo, it lacks food. People help each other where they can. But the people who are not helped die like dogs on the street.
Have you been to Venezuela recently?
No, I was there in September 2017 with the national team there, privately even ten years ago. It has always been a bit chaotic in Venezuela. But now nothing works in this country anymore. The current situation is the top.
Do you sometimes worry about your family?
Currently my brother, grandparents and uncle live in Venezuela. I'm not worried, but I keep sending things to help. The inflation is already clear. People can eat a whole month for € 50. This is an absolute extreme situation.
What do you think should happen in the country that will return to normal? Also at the political level?
I do not know in detail who says when. But I get a lot about my brother and it only happens in Venezuela that you cannot understand.
Power struggle in Venezuela: head of state Nicolàs Maduro (left) and opposition leader Juan Guaidó. (Source: images t-online / image)
For example, people have to wait two hours at a gas station to refuel their car. Venezuela is the country with the largest oil reserves in South America, you have to make that clear. That alone is enough to realize: something is going terribly wrong.
How do you explain such absurdities?
Seriously, I don't believe that those responsible in the country are brain cells. Intelligent people, for whom people are important, would not allow such a thing. That has to do with common sense. It's so ridiculous if it wasn't that tragic.
What is the first step back to normality?
Very simple: people first have to get the least to survive. Normal clothing and something to eat. If that is not guaranteed, you do not have to talk about everything else.
But even in the US, right here in Los Angeles, you realize what's going wrong. Everywhere you see people asking for money. The social system is bad, people are not insured. If someone has to go to the doctor, he can't afford it – and just dies on the street.
You see people lying on the street and asking yourself: is man dead? And a few kilometers further is the next Lamborghini. The social differences are brutal.
Since January 2018 they play in Los Angeles Galaxy.
I don't know where I get up in the morning during a training in Europe and smile the sun in my face. And almost 365 days a year! It is certainly a privilege for this club to play under these great circumstances.
At what level is Major League Soccer of the playful level?
The MLS is a very athletic competition, but tactically perhaps not the best. But there are more and more talented players, who automatically raise the level. That was not the case a few years ago.
Since 2018 together in the team: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (bottom) and Rolf Feltscher. (Source: ZUMA Press / image images)
In short, I would say that the level is higher than in the second Bundesliga in Germany. Like I said: maybe not tactical, but mainly because of the single player, which has an insane quality.
Speaking of individual player: what is it like to play with such a world star as Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Zlatan is a crazy guy. He is not completely normal in his pear (laughs). But I mean that positively. He is incredibly professional, one of the most ambitious and wants to win every game. Whether in training or in the field.
He is just very competitive, he lives for the competition. His humor is so special that people often don't understand him. But the people around him know how he means it and how it really is.
Would you call him a friend?
Well, what's your friend? We had the same advisor some time ago and have known each other for a few years. Let's put it this way: we can get along very well.
In the US you are a bit of a star for social media. Would you say that you live your dream?
Yes of course. Everything is super professional and the atmosphere is fantastic. In terms of terms and conditions, LA Galaxy is on a par with top European clubs such as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. And the California region does the rest.
Are you recognized on the street?
No not at all. Justin Bieber can walk around here, nobody cares. There are so many stars in LA that people are used to seeing a celebrity. You go this way and see Stevie Wonder, you go down there and see David Beckham. You go to the restaurant and there is another one.
Rolf Feltscher (l.) With his adviser Sercan Güvenisik. (Source: private / t-online.de)
You were born in 1990 in Bülach in Switzerland, you were active as a professional football player in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain and England – before moving to the US in 2018. At one point you just had enough of Europe?
Not at all. But LA Galaxy is simply the largest club in the US. I wanted to seize this unique opportunity and gain new experiences on another continent. The fact that it was LA really motivated me to come here, many big players have played here. I had to try that.
They went through all the youth teams in Switzerland, but then decided to play in 2011 for their mother's country, Venezuela. Why this decision with early 20?
This has to do with my brother. He is two years older than me and has decided to play for Venezuela. It was like a chain reaction, so I meant: let's play together for the same country. I didn't want it to look like the Boateng Brothers, one played for one and the other for the other.
Was there criticism from the Swiss side?
My former coach in Switzerland called me and of course wasn't very enthusiastic about my decision. However, the offer to play for Venezuela came at a time when World Cup qualifying was about to begin – and that was when I seized the opportunity.
How do you see your chances in the national team?
Last year was a bit difficult for me. I suffered from a severe tendinitis (tendon irritation, editorial note) and could not get 100 percent injury. Now I feel good and I am waiting for my next chance.
In the 2015/2016 season he went to the second division with MSV Duisburg: LA Galaxys Rolf Feltscher. (Source: Eibner / image images)
Die-hard fans know you from their time at MSV Duisburg. From summer 2014 to summer 2016 you played with the zebras & # 39; s. What do you think of this period in your career today?
I had a wonderful time in Duisburg. With a teammate from that time, Enis Hajri, I am still very good friends and I still have contact with his family. But the whole atmosphere at MSV was great, the fans impressed me a lot at the time. I felt loved.