Chelsea's Potter trots off while Kavertz talks donkeys

Sacked Chelsea manager Graham Potter (L) and donkey-loving player Kai Havertz (R)
Sacked Chelsea manager Graham Potter (L) and donkey-loving player Kai Havertz (R) Copyright Copyright 2023 The Associated Press
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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As Chelsea FC loses another manager, top player Kai Havertz talks about his new foundation - and love for donkeys

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After winning only seven of his 22 Premier League games in charge, Chelsea football club terminated Graham Potter's contract as their head coach.

Potter's departure followed Chelsea's loss at home to Aston Villa in their Premier League clash on Saturday (1 April), pushing the Blues into 11th position in the league table. He had only joined the team in September, replacing Thomas Tuchel on a five year deal.

He wasn’t popular throughout his short tenure, with Chelsea supporters criticising Potter during the club's match with Aston Villa, which ended in a 2-0 defeat, with many singing: "you don't know what you're doing".

After the game and Potter’s firing, the club’s co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali made a statement, saying, "We have the highest degree of respect for Graham as a coach and as a person. He has always conducted himself with professionalism and integrity, and we're all disappointed in this outcome”.

The frontrunner for the job is thought to be Julian Nagelsmann, after he was fired a week ago as the boss of Bayern Munich - but there’s some doubt over whether the 35-year-old German would be prepared to move to London.

Now, enough of this faux sports report because we're more interested in the culture of the club in the dressing room and in particular why German international Kai Havertz has revealed that some of his teammates call him ‘donkey’ - and it’s not down to his football skills. Read on dear reader, read on...

The attacking midfielder has loved the four-legged creatures since he was a child growing up in the German city of Aachen.

Speaking to The Guardian, Havertz explained, “From day one, I felt a special relationship with donkeys. It’s a very calm animal: maybe I personalised myself in them because I’m calm too. They chill all day, don’t do much, just want to live their life. I loved them always. And when I lost, I would go the sanctuary. You look at the animals, see something human in them. It was a kind of recovery, a place I felt peace”.

Copyright 2023 The AP
Donkey lover Kai Havertz warming up for Chelsea at Stamford BridgeCopyright 2023 The AP

When he turned 18, Havertz’s parents gifted him three donkeys via a sanctuary adoption service - and, now aged 23, his love for them has continued to grow.

Last week, inspired by the gentle creatures, he launched the Kai Havertz Stiftung (or Foundation), his own charity inspired by animal welfare and incorporating youth development and elderly care.

The footballer, who says he hates ‘flashy’ things often associated with players, often shares pictures of his fluffy friends with his 5.6 million Instagram followers - and has a message for those who think he should focus solely on the game. Havertz told The Guardian, “Fans might think: ‘He’s concentrating on something else,’ but there are worse things than having a foundation”.

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