Pepe, 39, spent a decade at the Santiago Bernabeu after joining them from FC Porto in 2007. He formed a ruthless centre-back pairing with Sergio Ramos and was known for his aggressive defending.
The Portuguese helped Los Blancos win three Champions League trophies and three La Liga titles, among other honors. The current Porto centre-back played 334 matches for the Spanish club before joining Besiktas in 2017.
In a recent interview with Sport1, Rudiger shared that he admired Pepe and once waited a long time to get his shirt. The German said:
“That’s right. I immediately have to think of Pepe. He was my big role model at Real Madrid, I always wanted to be like him.
“I used to watch videos of him straddling his opponents. I was still young and wanted to show everyone that I can be tough too. That was in my head.”
“Crazy how good Pepe was. Not only in a duel, also in the game structure. Today, however, everyone at Real tells me that he was actually a very calm character off the field. And guess what?
“He was the only player I ever waited an hour to get his jersey for. Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Thiago Silva are the three player names I’m most proud of in my kit collection. Absolute legends!”
Rudiger, 29, joined Real Madrid earlier this summer on a free transfer after the expiration of his contract with Chelsea. He has played nine matches so far in all competitions for the Merengues.
Antonio Rudiger shares the pressure to win at Real Madrid
Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs in world football, having won 95 trophies, including a record 35 La Liga titles and 14 Champions League titles.
Any player that joins the club is expected to help them win trophies, which can put some players under pressure. Rudiger touched upon it in his aforementioned interview with Sport1, saying:
“The force of the club is huge. As an outsider you can roughly imagine it, but experiencing it yourself is something completely different. It’s all about winning here. There is no other option.
“When I look at guys like Luka, Toni or Karim – they are so deeply relaxed, for them even a final is the most normal thing in the world.”
Real Madrid are the only club in Europe’s top five leagues to have won all of their matches so far this season. They will next be in action at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga against Osasuna on October 2.