Pierre-Emile Højbjerg says he and his Southampton teammates have a big responsibility in the coming weeks to prove that their season to this point is not a true reflection of who they are.
Saints have five Premier League games left in their campaign, starting with tomorrow night’s trip to Leicester City, as they fight to get out of the bottom three.
Højbjerg is acutely aware of what’s at stake, and has stressed the levels of commitment and sacrifice that are needed in these final matches.
pierre-emile højbjergwe need fighters and we need people who want to sacrifice. everyone here wants to do that, and that is a good thing.
“The next few weeks is life-changing,” he said. “Wherever our paths go, and wherever all our ways go, whether it's short-term or long-term, this will all change our lives, this will all change our way of looking on football.
“I promise you, I promise to the fans, and I promise to the people standing outside, there is not one single person inside here who wants to be in this situation. There is not one person who actually thinks 'Oh, this may be good for me in a way.’ Everyone is suffering.
“But we don't want people to feel sorry for us. As lucky as we are, we're the ones who brought on this situation and we're the ones who will – not who can, or who have to, or who might – we are the ones who will get us out of this situation.
“We have the power to change things, and this power we need to take. You turn the pain into power, you take the opportunity, and you grow. Then together, next year, we all stand stronger. But the action has to be right now, otherwise you can take an early holiday ticket and you don't need to be here, because we need fighters and we need people who want to sacrifice. Everyone here wants to do that, and that is a good thing.
“Football is in the end not just about ability, not just about skills, it's about who can resist and grow with the situation.
“In the end, it's all about what you give is what you take. It's about what you do and what you put into it. You cannot expect to get something if you are not working for it. In the end, in the long-term, you get what you work for. In the end, hard work always pays off. If it's two months, six months, one year, two years, I don't know... but hard work is in the end the key.
“Because if you don't want to push forward, if you don't want to sacrifice, if you don't want to hurt yourself going where it's difficult, you can be a football player, yes, but you cannot be a top football player.
“I hope for whatever football god there is that he is a god with us, but in the end we can hope, we can pray and we can think many things, but it's the action that speaks the loudest. It's what you put in those 95 minutes, because this is what will get us to where we want to be.
“We have a big responsibility, for our families, for ourselves, for the team, for the club and a big responsibility for the fans who are showing up, to show this is not a situation that is worthy of us as individuals, of us as a team and of us as Southampton Football Club.”
The above interview was part of a feature with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in Saturday's edition of our matchday programme, SAINTS. To purchase any of this season's issues, visit saintsmagazines.co.uk.