Diego Godin sees “parallels” between Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Inter boss Antonio Conte, plus rivalry with “disrespectful” Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Uruguay international joined as a free agent after his Atletico Madrid contract expired and is settling into life at San Siro.
“People wonder how a country with 3.5m inhabitants can create so many great players, but it’s a cultural thing. There’s not a square metre of the nation where you don’t see a football rolling and a child running after it,” Godin told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We play in any conditions: cold, hot, rain, sun. We have a very high tolerance level, so after you get used to all that, what can frighten you? You can play at any latitude.”
The veteran was asked why he chose to join Inter, albeit confirming he had many other offers on the table.
“Inter came forward first and with more determination than other clubs. They outlined their project, which is ambitious, like me. I liked the idea of helping Inter make it happen.
“It’s true, I received offers from Juventus, Manchester United, while in the past there was also Manchester City, but at that moment I had a contract with Atletico and wasn’t thinking about leaving. This summer, my contract was running down.
“I can say that no other club managed to convince me the way Inter did. Plus my wife was born in Cagliari, she speaks Italian and is trying to help me learn. Her father is Pepe Herrera, who played at Cagliari with Enzo Francescoli, so we had long conversations about Serie A.”
Godin sees parallels between Atletico Madrid and Inter, especially as Coach Diego Simeone spent several years with the Nerazzurri.
“There are many similarities, trying to break the dominance in the title race. Inter’s objective is to win and we need hard work and ambition to end that Juve monologue.
“Conte really reminds me of Simeone. They experience football with the same passion, are focused on details and get the best out of their players. Conte knows what he wants, gets straight to the point, which is the ideal for a player.
“I admit, Simeone did talk to me a lot about Inter. We discussed this move, he said Inter were the biggest club he’d ever known, with passionate fans.
“Diego is a great Coach, he followed a football idea and culture that allowed Atletico to fight it out with Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was the only possible way to compete against them, as if we’d played their style of football, we would never have come close.”
Like Simeone and Conte, Godin has no time for debates about beautiful football.
“What is good football, exactly? It’s one thing to try Jogo Bonito, another to actually play well. As far as I am concerned, playing well means winning. You get a victory by defending and attacking at a high level.
“There are many teams who keep the ball for most of the game and then lose. They are not complete, that doesn’t mean playing good football. The result is what counts.”
Godin will experience some of that rivalry all over again, as former Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is at Juventus and clashed with Atleti in last season’s Champions League Round of 16.
“Marking Ronaldo is not a technical issue, it’s more about concentration, because for 90 minutes you cannot let him out of your sight for a second. He will take that second to score a goal.
“As for some roughhousing, what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but I don’t like it when there’s a lack of respect. When Cholo made that gesture after our goal, it was towards our own fans, not Juve. Ronaldo’s version was different, he was disrespecting our supporters.”
Does Godin see himself becoming a Coach in the future?
“For now, I say no. There’s too much tension, too many hours of study… I’ll stay within football, but probably not in that role.”