Adel Taarabt claims he was “psychologically destroyed” from his spell at Milan, but is a new man and lost 11kg thanks to Genoa.
The 28-year-old Morocco international had just six months at San Siro on loan from QPR from January to June 2014.
He scored four goals in 16 competitive games for the club, also providing two assists.
“That experience destroyed my psychologically,” Taarabt told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I had done well with the Rossoneri and we were on the verge of signing the contract, then Pippo Inzaghi arrived and made other choices. Returning to QPR after playing in the Champions League alongside stars like Kaka really hurt.
“I made friends there too, as Mario Balotelli was here three weeks ago in Genoa to see me, while I went to see him in Monaco. He is like me, we both need affection. He has an enormous heart and has found a President at Nice who cares for him, so he’ll become great again.
“Taking on Milan is emotional for me now, as I had six wonderful months there at a fantastic club. Now they have changed so much, it’s not easy to build a team with 11 new players, but it’s important for all of Italian football that Milan are trying to get back to the top.
“I know what it’s like playing for Milan, as after 20 minutes if there isn’t a goal, the pressure starts to become unsustainable.”
Taarabt’s talent has never been in doubt, but his work-rate has always been an issue.
“At the start of my career, I would rely solely on talent. I didn’t believe in hard work or playing for the team. I wanted to win my way. Now I have realised that football is a collective sport, that to be a complete player, you must be willing to sacrifice yourself.
“I am coming back now, not quite what I was before, but I’m getting there. With Ivan Juric, you always have to go full pelt. He’s fair, though. If you prove that you understood what went wrong, he’ll press the reset button and start again.
“When I first arrived at Genoa, I was out of shape and there were problems, but I realised I had to go towards him and so I started the conversation. I don’t know if we can call each other friends, but he certainly changed my life – and my body, seeing as I lost 11kg.
“It wasn’t easy for me, because I’ve never been accustomed to running without the ball at my feet, but when you get used to it, that all becomes natural. Now if I don’t train for a day, I feel bad. I feel the need to run.
“Putting on weight has always been an issue for me. When I was young and single, I could go out with my friends to restaurants. You can’t do that at 28, you need to change your lifestyle, and that’s what I did.
“I rediscovered my love for football and for myself. I am crazy about this sport and watch every game I can. My idol is Zinedine Zidane and now I play closer to the goal, in the role he had.
“I thought I could never get back to my best, but with this new physical form, I can start winning again and playing well with Genoa. It’d be wonderful to get my own chant from the Genoa fans.”
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