In an exclusive interview Kai Havertz tells us about his new charity, how he’s feeling after a busy season and why his hopes are high for Chelsea’s future…
We work in progress.
The slogan of Kai Havertz’s new Stiftung, or charitable organisation, could just as well apply to the Chelsea team he spearheads. At a wet and grey Cobham, shortly after the final training session before Aston Villa’s visit concludes, the attacker sits down with us to discuss progress being made on and off the pitch.
We start with the Kai Havertz Stiftung, which launched earlier this week. Inspired by a long-held love of animals, and in particular donkeys, the charity does not just stop at animal protection. Havertz has grand ideas and wants to help with youth and elderly care, too. ‘They don’t have the power to live their own lives sometimes,’ he says. ‘They are the people who need help.’
Havertz has long had a desire to give back. He is acutely aware of his privilege as a highly successful, well-paid footballer. And he is someone who likes to keep his mind interested, to make the most of his time away from football. Those feelings combined. His Stiftung is the result.
‘I have a big fanbase, and I think I can use my face, use my voice, because many people maybe listen to my opinion and maybe agree with me,’ Havertz explains.
‘Two years ago, we had a flood in my hometown in Germany. This opened my eyes. This can happen on our door. Maybe five years ago when something happened in Africa, you could look away a bit and not think about it. But when it happens on your door, you realise there are a lot of bad things out there.
‘I’m a person who likes to spend time outside in nature,’ continues the 23-year-old.
‘And I like to use my brain beyond football as well. Football is my job and with that comes big responsibility. I’m in a spot financially where I can use that, and in the end, it may just be little things that make the world a better place but if I can do that, I am happy to. I want to give back to the community.’
The hard work is already underway. Havertz, who is joined on the new project by his brother, sister and girlfriend, among others, has a global vision, and he cites Turkey and Syria, who recently suffered a devastating earthquake, as a place he is trying to help. Several more partnerships have emerged since Wednesday’s launch.
Havertz is a busy man. In fact, no Chelsea player has as many appearances, minutes or goals to his name this season than the German. He has featured in all but one of our games, and has not missed out once through injury or illness. At a time when so many footballers are feeling the effects of condensed schedules, and a mid-season World Cup, Havertz’s availability is a rare commodity.
‘Usually I never had bad injuries, maybe two weeks where I was out with a small muscle injury, but this year I did a lot of work before the season in my holiday time,’ he reveals.
‘I prepared a lot there. I knew there was a World Cup coming and I didn’t want to risk anything. Also, the work I continue with here, I have a coach at home who trains with me, so all in all it’s quite good and I hope it stays like this.
‘I know what is best for my body. I have people who help me with that as well, but I have known my body for six years of professional football now.
‘I feel physically fresh. I feel good. It’s been a hard season. Physically and mentally it’s been tough for everyone. I had the World Cup as well which was not the best for Germany, so mentally it was a bit tough.
‘But we have a big competition, the Champions League, where we can achieve big things this year. The league is hard but still we want to get points and come into European business. We have big goals still and I’m ready for that.’
Havertz points to the significant changes at Chelsea over the course of this season as a major contributing factor to our lowly league position, but he sees signs – not least the win over Dortmund – that a proper team is coming together.
‘After the bad times we had – and the beginning of the year was very bad – we have progressed quite well.
‘After bad times you’re going to see the sun again. In my career as well I knew when I had bad times to just continue my work and it was going to be fine.
‘Of course we lost some times, our table position is bad, but the fans can be excited for the next few months and years, and everything that happens, because we have bought some good-quality players and they are going to achieve some big things here.’
For Havertz, achievement is second nature, something he is now proud extends beyond the football pitch.