Saturday March 3 2018
Matuidi: 'Juventus improved me'

Blaise Matuidi explains how he improved at Juventus, tuned into the winning mentality and hard work ethic. “I feel like I’ve completed a course.”

The France international sat down for a lengthy interview with newspaper L’Equipe about his time in Turin. You can read the rest of it here.

“When I was little I followed the big players, and Juve had a lot: Baggio, Del Piero, Buffon, Thuram, Davids… Edgar Davids, he was truly one of my role models! Juve, for me, represented class. That black and white shirt and a team that showed respect.

“I remember a Juve-Paris Saint-Germain game [the European Super Cup in 1997]. Since I grew up in the Parisian region, I was of course cheering for Paris. Juve won 6-1 - what a great team!”

Matuidi arrived this season, but had been in advanced negotiations for a transfer in 2016.

“I talked a lot with Paul [Pogba]. He told me a lot of good things about this club. Their desire to win, their rigour, their work ethic and high standards.

“I exchanged information with Pat [Evra] who also told me only good things. And the national team Coach [Didier Deschamps] also passed through there.

“On the first day I discovered J-Medical. There, I was shocked! All those machines, all the medical staff… There’s absolutely everything here, it’s extraordinary.

“Right away I released they left nothing to chance, and that’s the mark of the great teams. I saw several doctors, and each one specialised in one part of the body. If you have a problem with your hand, don’t worry, here’s a hand specialist.

“They checked me for everything. And the follow-up is very much tailored to the individual. When I arrived I wasn’t too used to working in the gym. We must tell the truth here: we, the French - with some exceptions - don’t like working too hard outside of training.

“Here I got the taste for that kind of work. The strength in my upper and lower body, the way of positioning myself… After a few months I’m already noticing that it’s doing me a lot of good.

“I feel like I’ve completed a course. In a match I have less problems repeating an action at high intensity, I can keep it up with no problem. After games I don’t have cramps, which happened to me a lot before.

“I sometimes had problems with going shoulder-to-shoulder with people and I’ve improved in that too, and in a very short time. It’s all thanks to the work I do outside of training.”

Much is made of the ‘winning mentality’ at Juventus and Matuidi acknowledges it really does exist.

“It’s a matter of permanent requirement. Our Coach [Max Allegri] always wants more. When you have a Coach who tells you ‘that’s good’ all the time, you rest on your laurels. He tells us incessantly ‘that wasn’t good’, and it pushes us to improve. Then we work on tactics a huge amount. In that respect our Coach is on a very high level.

“Here, the slogan is ‘vincere’. Before the match we hear the fans sing it over and over again. I feel perfectly attuned to that.

“You can take pleasure in things without winning, but it’s multiplied when you win. What’s really striking here is that the institution takes precedence. We feel that it has been here for a very long time and now we must serve it.

“The institution is stronger than the players, that’s what you get at very big clubs. I remember something Pat [Evra] told me when he wanted me to join him. He said: ‘Blaise, Juventus is the club you need’. Pat was right.

“This is the club I needed to continue to progress and be successful at club level and in the national team. At my age, I needed that, I’m enjoying a second youth.

“I would have been frustrated if I’d ended my career without playing abroad. And what an experience, it’s magnificent! Not everyone gets to play for Juventus.”

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