John Arne Riise remembers the ‘legendary’ Christian Panucci and ‘role model’ Luca Toni in the third part of his exclusive interview with Football Italia.
With the podcast panel being massive fans of Panucci and Toni, Livio Caferoglu had to ask Riise about the two cult heroes, as well as who was the biggest joker in Roma’s dressing room.
“What a legend Panucci was, what a player,” he said at the Golazio bar in South London for the launch of his new autobiography Running Man.
“He was a personality. He assisted my first goal for Roma against Inter away with a no-look pass!
“What a character he was in the dressing room. On the pitch he had so much knowledge. He didn’t hold back, he talked a lot and knows so much about football.
“I laughed so much with him off it because of the things he said, which didn’t make sense, but I really enjoyed playing with him because I learned so much from him, how to be a professional and how much he knows about football, which is ridiculous.
“I laughed with Luca Toni in training every day because he was so funny, the things he said, the way he used his arm all the time, the swearing and all that because that’s the first thing I learned in Italian.
“I loved him because he was a proper target man. He wasn’t the quickest or best technically, but he works so hard for the team, he went for challenges and fought.
“He was a proper team player and I loved his celebration. He was so much of a role model. Italians, these kinds of players, they’re different to others because they’re characters, how they are, they’re emotional, they use a lot of their arms, bodies, gestures.
“But Luca Toni, what a finisher. He loved to score and I enjoyed playing with him because I knew whenever I crossed the ball, he was there.
“The biggest joker in the dressing room? Totti because whenever you replied back to Totti, he’d get you worse back.
“He was so calm, he was the biggest character I ever played with but also one of the nicest. He was so down to earth, respectful, helpful. He was brilliant.
“Mexes and Cassetti together was never a good thing. They used to joke around, Okaka as well. If you had Cassetti, Menez, Mexes and Okaka, you had fun.
“I laughed every day even though I didn’t understand a lot of Italian. When it comes to laughing and the dressing room, it was unbelievable.”