“Juventus means everything to me. A family, a lifestyle. A winning style!”
Ahead of Juventus’ Serie A meeting with Chievo last season, Adam Digby sat down with Bianconeri defender Giorgio Chiellini to discuss the career of the 29-year-old. The Italian international spoke on a variety of subjects, including his club’s Champions League exit and the tactical approach of manager Antonio Conte, here’s what he had to say;
Thank you for talking to Eight by Eight magazine at such a busy time. Juventus are enjoying another excellent season, can you tell us what it feels like to be part of such a successful team after some difficult years?
It’s an amazing feeling because after a few tough years we did something extraordinary. In our first season with Conte we won the Scudetto without losing a game – a rare feat indeed in Italy. Then we won the title again the following season. Lots of hard times repaid with two fantastic years. Now we have to keep it up!
You recently became part of the Juventus ‘Hall of Fame’ after your 300th appearance, and by the end of the season you could be part of only the second Bianconeri team to win three successive titles. What does being such a major player in the history of this club mean to you?
Juventus means everything to me. A family, a lifestyle. A winning style!
Speaking of history, you’ve spoken many times about your admiration of Paolo Maldini, what is it about the Milan legend that you admire as a player? His status as a great of Italian football is undoubted but did he also have specific skills that you have looked or wished to copy?
For years Maldini was the prototype of the modern full-back. I think every Italian defender looked up to him in a way and it was no different for me.
If Maldini is your idol, can you talk about which player (or players) that you’ve played with during your career who have helped you to develop as a player?
Fabio Cannavaro was without doubt the defender who helped me develop my game most. He’s a leader both on and off the pitch.
Which player in the current team surprises you the most and why?
Paul Pogba. He’s got the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world.
Can you tell me what you think of Paul Pogba and the impact he has had since arriving at Juventus?
As I said, he’s a lad with extraordinary ability who came in here, got his head down and worked like a true professional with the spontaneity of a 20-year-old. That’s definitely one of the secrets to becoming a top player.
You are currently out injured, can you discuss what it is like as an athlete to miss games with injuries and sit watching your team play without you?
It’s the hardest thing because you always want to get out on the pitch and help your team-mates, but you also accept it as being part of the game.
Can you talk a little about the arrival of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, about the play of each and how their arrival has changed the team?
Carlos and Fernando have upped the technical level of our team. They’ve slotted into the coach’s system perfectly and, together with Vucinic, Giovinco, Quagliarella and Osvaldo, I think they make up one of the most potent strike forces in Serie A.
Antonio Conte has brought in a back three, how did you find switching to that and can you explain your role in it?
It was a new experience and one I felt at ease with immediately. I’m sure that a back three with Barzagli and Bonucci is the best system for me to play in.
And how easily do you feel this team could play in a four just as easily? Do you think that would help in the Champions League as it seemed much more solid against Real Madrid.
Obviously we’re all happy to go along with whatever Conte decides. But I think the two playing systems are so different that you can’t really compare them. The movement is totally different when you switch from a back three to a back four, and I don’t think your defensive solidity depends on the number of defenders you play anyway because defending, like attacking, has to involve the whole team.
On the Champions League exit, where do you think this team struggled and were eliminated? What was missing in those drawn games against F.C. Copenhagen and Galatasaray that would have made a difference?
I think certainly in the first game in Denmark we were missing a bit of luck, and against Galatasaray in Turin we needed to be more concentrated. Unfortunately it’s such a high level in the Champions League that you can’t afford any slip-ups. We learnt that at a price this year but you have to learn from your mistakes and bounce back even stronger than before. That’s exactly what we’re going to do!
Is the competition that much more difficult? Can you explain to us what makes it different/tougher than Serie A and what do you think this Juve needs to do to adapt?
There’s no competition with a higher technical level than the Champions League, that’s for sure. Juventus began a rebuilding program about three years ago. After a tough first year we started winning again in Italy and doing well in Europe. This season we haven’t been able to repeat the good results we had in Europe last year but it all helps us to mature and grow as a group, and I think in the long run it will help us to achieve great things.