Blaise Matuidi reveals he was “honoured” to be greeted by Juventus captain Gigi Buffon with a kiss. “It really struck me. Huge, huge respect!”
The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder spoke to L’Equipe about his move to Turin this season. You can read the rest of that interview here.
“I came to a dressing room that had just made the Champions League Final and won six Scudetti in a row. With players who had won the World Cup, the legend Gigi Buffon…
“Even though I’m an international player who achieved good things in France and with Paris, I came in on tiptoes. Luckily for me my teammates are both welcoming people and quality footballers, experienced players.
“I was helped by Medhi Benatia and Miralem Pjanic, who speak French. And also by Gigi. I knew him as a player, but not as a man. And the man is extraordinary too. Huge, huge respect!
“His first contact with me was a kiss! He gave me a kiss! It really struck me, I took it as a way of saying ‘you’re family’. And that’s wonderful, coming from him it’s an honour.
“He’s a great professional, I watch him in training and with the physios. In the image of the club, he leaves nothing to chance, that’s his strength. And then, that talent! To get where he is hard work isn’t enough. And I can guarantee you, he has talent.”
Which players most impressed Matuidi during their training sessions?
“If I had to name two, I’d say Paulo Dybala and Pjanic. Paulo is a little younger, and I see him becoming very, very great. He’s a genius with the ball.
“Mire has already done some good things and still has good years ahead of him. When you’re close to him, you realise what an exceptional player he is. He knows how to do everything: score, dribble, block shots. And he has a good head on his shoulders.
“These two surprised me, and that’s without talking about Gigi. And I don’t forget the others.”
Matuidi was asked about the incidences of racism he has encountered in Italian stadiums, but defended his new home.
“It’s not in all of them. We’ve played a lot of matches and it’s ‘only’ happened twice. Twice is too many, but let’s not generalise and even in these stadiums it’s a minority.
“That’s the negative point and clearly it hurt me. These are things you don’t want to see in football.
“But I got the support of a lot of Italians, especially on social media. The club supported me a lot, the fans too.
“I don’t know what I’ll do if it happens again. The last time, in Cagliari, I thought of walking off. Then I thought about my teammates, and I thought I couldn't do that to them. My teammates and the club only want good things for me.
“I wear the Juve shirt, and my objective is to perform for this club and help the team. That’s why I stayed on the pitch, and I think I’d do the same if it were to happen again.
“It’s better to ignore it and stay focused on the match. My mother has advised me, I’ll listen.”
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