Captain Papu Gomez says Atalanta ‘changed my life’ and thinks his path would have been different had he met coach Gian Piero Gasperini earlier in his career.
The Orobici coach has given Gomez more responsibility in the build-up play and the Argentine loves playing as a trequartista in Bergamo.
“It’s great to play in this position,” he told Enganche. “I have to defend, come back to look for the ball and then turn around and throw myself back in the mix.
“I enjoy it because I’m always very close to the ball. We have two flanks opening the game, so we can play 3-5-2 if I’m in the middle or 3-4-1-2 if I’m closer to the forwards.
“When I met Gasperini, I was playing at left. I think I learned a lot thanks to the coach. If I had met Gasperini at 24 or 25, I would have developed much more.
“I would have had other opportunities and another path. But I was already 28 that day.
Atalanta are preparing to face Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the Champions League this week and Gomez highlights the rapid development at the Gewiss Stadium in recent years.
The 32-year-old points out that the Nerazzurri comes from a small city compared to the giants in Italian football and how they are learning by doing.
“The club belongs to the city. Before my arrival, they barely fought to save themselves and everyone were happy anyway.
“But we raised the bar and now they ask for the European Cups. Achieving this goal is priceless. When I just arrived, we were 14 games without winning. Atalanta changed my life.
“We know we are a team from a city of 100,000 people or so and not the big team of a capital. But we know where we are going and what we want.
“We learned along the way, from the first match in the Champions League, when we conceded four against Dinamo Zagreb."