Mateo Kovacic may only be 18 and preparing for his first Milan Derby, but he smiles that “anyone who believes in Jesus cannot fear the Diavolo.”
The Inter starlet was snapped up towards the end of the January transfer window for €10m and has already become a regular starter in midfield.
“I didn’t need anyone to tell me about the Derby, as you just have to watch on television to understand it’s the most important game in Italy,” the Croat told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Dejan Stankovic filled me in on the rest, as he has played so many derbies and I remember his goals against Milan.
“If you love football like me, you live for these games. You don’t think about the tension, as you just want to get out there and play.”
Milan are the favourites going into Sunday night’s showdown, especially after beating Barcelona 2-0 in the Champions League.
“The whole team watched that game together in the hotel in Romania. I admit I was pretty sure Barcelona were going to win, but Milan played a truly fantastic match. I think they’ll be less defensive against us and it’d be a mistake to think Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy are their only dangerous players.”
Kovacic then joked about Milan’s nickname, ‘Il Diavolo’ – the Devil.
“Anyone who believes in Jesus cannot fear the Diavolo,” he smiled. “I always give my all to the team, though I am aware that I’m still young and my moment is yet to come. I am like Inter, as we can both give much more.
“Coach Andrea Stramaccioni doesn’t usually tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. He urges me to play my style of football and I really like that.
“Playing for Inter is joy and I am so grateful to the club for bringing me here. I cannot think of an objective other than to stay here as long as possible. I’m taking Italian lessons and want to communicate better with my teammates.”