M’Baye Niang reveals “genuine affection” with Milan Coach Vincenzo Montella and insists his wild days are behind him.
The striker has found his feet after a loan spell at Genoa and feels he is reaching maturation following some bizarre early incidents in his career.
“All my Coaches taught me something,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Dumas, who worked with me at Caen, taught me not to me afraid on the pitch. Max Allegri explained the importance of tactics.
“Gian Piero Gasperini relaunched me. Sinisa Mihajlovic wanted me to join him at Torino and is similar to Vincenzo Montella.
“I have a good rapport with Montella, as we just immediately got along. He made me feel that he wants me here, from the very first day. He put me at the centre of his project, talks to me if I make a mistake or if I need it. He cares and there’s genuine affection.
“We said what we expect from one another and continue to do that.”
Niang was the ‘bad boy’ of French and then Italian football, fully confessing to a series of misadventures.
“Barely a month would go by without me doing something stupid. The worst was the incident in the car in February. At that point I said to myself, enough.”
Niang damaged his ankle and shoulder in a Ferrari, forcing him to miss most of the rest of the season.
He had previous problems, as in 2012 straight after arriving at Milan he famously was caught driving without a licence and pretended to be teammate Bakaye Traore when talking to the police.
During a loan spell at Montpellier, he crashed another Ferrari in February 2014 and was given a suspended sentence.
“The trouble with me is that I can’t seem to hide anything. There are those who get away with all sorts and nobody ever knows, whereas all of my dumb actions are known by everybody. Either I’m unlucky or I am really bad at hiding them. In fact, I’m more likely to publish a video than hide it…
“But I promised myself that enough is enough, and if I made that promise, it’s because I know I can maintain it.”
Niang’s exploits weren’t just at club level, but also cost him dearly for France.
“I would already be in the team if I hadn’t run away from the Under-21 training camp to go clubbing. I was right there. I think I’ve paid the price for that now, I’m playing regularly, so I hope Didier Deschamps will call me.
“We talked, I know he is following my progress and is waiting to understand if I have really changed. I certainly never thought of playing for Senegal just because France didn’t call me. I feel French.”
Part of his new-found calm is also due to girlfriend Emilie.
"We've been together for five months, which for me is practically a miracle. I tell her when I'm with her, I'm better on the pitch too."