Cristian Zapata has reflected on the challenge he felt in arriving at Milan and how former colleague Mario Yepes helped him settle in.
The two Colombians spent the 2012-13 season together at San Siro and formed a working relationship that the younger of the pair still with the Rossoneri hopes will be rekindled with their national team.
“Mario helped me a lot last year when I arrived at Milan and I really hope that we will be together in the national team next year,” considered Zapata to magazine Calcio2000.
“I will do everything to earn a place in the Colombian national team.
“Only by doing well with Milan, can I be taken into consideration.”
Zapata initially joined Milan on a year’s loan last season, before making his switch permanent last summer.
“It was amazing, I do not know what else to say to explain the happiness that I felt when I was told that Milan wanted me.
“Every since I was little, I had known about and loved Milan. They are a team full of champions, always at the top, and in fact I could not even think about it, it was an opportunity to be seized, and I did.
“The first day at Milanello? It is a crazy place. It is a structure that moves you greatly. You are surrounded by huge photos there of past champions, it is impossible not to be charmed. It is fantastic, really fantastic.”
The centre-back arrived in the wake of Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta’s departures.
“I knew it would not be easy. I arrived in a moment when two star players such as Thiago Silva and Nesta had ended playing with Milan.
“In short, it was very difficult and, moreover, I was recovering from a bad season at Villarreal and I had no confidence in myself.
“Fortunately, thanks to the hard work, to my teammates and to the Coach Allegri, everything went in the right direction.
“Allegri knew me from my time at Udinese and knew what I could do and contribute. He gave me confidence.
“I could not disappoint him, I got to work and, in the end, I was born again, certainly thanks to his help.”
This season sees the 27-year-old in partnership with Philippe Mexes.
“Everyone says that Mexes is one to fall asleep, but so do I, but in the end we are good and we have done good things on the field.
“The important thing is to continue to do well and to make as few mistakes as possible.”