Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez remembers when Atalanta were fighting against relegation and it’s “extraordinary” to enter their Champions League debut with Dinamo Zagreb.
It kicks off on Wednesday at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT) in a group with Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk.
“It’s exciting, a great football sensation and playing this competition for the first time is something extraordinary,” said Papu in his Press conference at the Maksimir Stadium.
“We will try to continue what we’ve been doing for three years now and want to bring our football ideology into Europe.
“I’ve been here a long time and I was talking to the new players who weren’t here when Atalanta were fighting to avoid relegation.
“Since Gian Piero Gasperini arrived, everything has changed, above all the mentality. It was already a model club in the way it was run, but we’ve seen incredible growth in terms of mentality and we don’t want to stop here. We intend to keep going.
“Obviously, Manchester City are at a level above the others in the group, but I am still curious to see how we play against them. I want to see how we react to that situation.”
Curiously, the final game of the group will be against Shakhtar Donetsk, where Papu briefly played for Metalist Kharkiv before the outbreak of war prompted him to return to Italy.
“I was just talking to my wife about that, it feels like destiny. I went there to play in the Champions League, but never got to participate for various reasons. It’s very surprising to return there and I’m sure it’ll be an emotional moment.”