Adel Taarabt admits “I’ve never worked as hard as here in Genoa” after realising “you need to live as a real professional”.
The Moroccan’s talent has been evident in spells with Tottenham Hotspur, Milan and Queens Park Rangers, but his commitment and lifestyle off the pitch have been more questionable.
Having seemingly been frozen out by the Grifone, the attacking midfielder was their best player in the 1-0 defeat to Udinese last weekend.
“It was my first real game in almost two years,” Taarabt told Il Secolo XIX.
“I played 90 minutes and I felt good. That’s why I need to thank the Coach [Ivan Juric], the club and my teammates.
“I had found myself training alone, then I found the courage to talk to the boss and I told him that I felt good.
“He understood, and when I asked him for a second chance he told me that he had nothing against me. But, if I wanted this chance, I had to give him answers.
“He gave me a week to show what I could do.
“I worked a lot, I put in a lot of effort. A huge amount. I can say that I’ve never worked as hard as here in Genoa. So much running, so much of the ball, so much pressing…
“And sacrificing in my private life? Yes, of course. You can’t have football and fun. It’s a job, I know that well. I had to change, you need to live as a real professional.
“I had lost my love for football, if my team lost I’d get home and I wouldn’t care. Now if I lose I’m angry, I can’t calm down. Juric made me rediscover my love for football.
“For a couple of years I treated it like any other job, I’d go home and switch it all off. Now I’m back to living for football.
“I’ve changed everything, I eat well, I drink well, I live well. I go to bed early, by 11 o’clock I’m out. You can’t do what I did before, in Serie A every defeat is a drama, not like in England.
“It was a really strict diet, I lost 11kg in three and a half months without damaging my fitness. Mamma mia, what a thought.
“That sacrifice didn’t go to waste though, I did it all for the Grifone.”