Giorgio Chiellini admits to using some dark arts in defending, but he’d never hurt an opponent intentionally, while the Juventus star points to a future role behind the scenes.
The interview that accompanied his new autobiography already caused a great deal of controversy with Felipe Melo and Mario Balotelli firing back, but he also covered his own approach to the game in La Repubblica.
“At the start of my career, I was like a wild horse unleashed, it was just non-stop running and battling, creating duels all over the pitch based on my physicality,” said the Juventus captain.
“However, I might be a bit rough, but I will never be cruel. When I did make a nasty tackle, it was involuntary and I apologised a thousand times to Gonzalo Bergessio in 2013, as my challenge was reckless. He was out for three months and when he returned, he set out to take revenge, until he got himself sent off for all those elbows on me.
“In any case, even when I was at the height of the adrenaline rush during a game, the thought ‘now I’ll go into the tackle and do damage’ never crossed my mind.
“Having said all that, there are no friends during those 90 minutes on the pitch. I remember once I was against Giampaolo Pazzini, someone I basically grew up together with, and he had a protective mask on his face, so I kept touching it throughout the game. He told me where to go, but he knew full well it would go that way, so after the final whistle we just chatted as normal.”
There were other opponents that Chiellini did not get along with, but later learned to love, such as Gonzalo Higuain.
“I was surprised by him, to be honest, as Number 9 personalities tend to be very egotistical, but Pipita is very generous and playful. He is tough to work with, because you need to constantly coddle and stimulate him, providing that affection he needs to bring out that incredible potential.”
Pavel Nedved has become the Juventus vice-president after retirement, so does Chiellini see himself in a similar role?
“I do have a vision on how football should evolve, I don’t now if it’s in five or 10 years, but I’m not yet ready to develop that further. I can see myself behind a desk, not as a director of sport or talent scout, but in an organisational role.
“I’d like to deal with politics in sport, something like the European Club Association, as I want to help contribute to reforming football.”
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