Giorgio Chiellini has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for ‘filling the void’ left by Gianluigi Buffon and taking Juventus ‘beyond our limits’.
In the second part of his long interview with Marca on Tuesday, Chiellini also discussed Juve’s captaincy, their season in Serie B and controversial Champions League exit to Real Madrid last term, former teammate Alvaro Morata and his future after football.
“We’re working towards the Champions League,” he told the newspaper a day before the Bianconeri’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Atletico Madrid.
“It’s our objective, even if it’s complicated. The draw gave us an team who are very similar to us.
“Obsession? No, it’s an objective that we’re pursuing with serenity. We know that there are 5-6 teams able to win it, but we want to return to Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.
“Being captain is a great honour. I’ve been at Juve for 15 years and I consider it my second home.
“It’s a responsibility for me, the fact that I represent all those who are part of this club, from the fans to my teammates and the directors.
“Serie B? My situation was a bit different, compared to the other great players who stayed at Juventus: Buffon, Camoranesi, Del Piero, Trezeguet…
“They were all players who came back from a World Cup Final. It wasn’t as difficult for me as it was for them.
“Serie B was a different environment. Every game was like a party. After a month we got used to it, and everything went very smoothly.
“I think the 2010-2011 season was more complicated, when we wanted to get back to winning but everything went wrong.
“Ronaldo’s arrival was important. In terms of character, he’s filled the void left by Buffon’s departure.
“Only a fool would’ve doubted his ability to score goals and provide assists. After dominating in Italy for so many years it’s possible to think we could’ve peaked, but thanks to Cristiano we’re going beyond our limits.
“We’ve played in two Champions League Finals, but we’re still missing the last step. The penalty awarded to Real? It was a complicated moment for the referee too.
“Maybe my teammates and I made mistakes as he was a good and young referee. Yes, we were 3-0 up and it wasn’t nice, but I don’t want it to be an excuse.
“Director or Coach? I’d say director because the life of the Coach is much tougher but when I retire, I’ll take a year out.
“Morata’s a great friend, a golden boy. We hoped he’d stay with us for a long time, but he had the chance to go back to his home at Real Madrid.
“He can be a very dangerous opponent for us in the Champions League because he’s quick, he knows how to shoot with both feet and is a good header of the ball.
“When I see him, I’ll hug him and ask him about his wife and children.”
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