Edin Dzeko is confident Roma can get past Manchester United in the Europa League semi-final, but admits he had to be ‘mentally strong’ to recover from his Paulo Fonseca row.
The Bosnian scored the equaliser this evening after a Brian Brobbey goal, allowing the Giallorossi to knock Ajax out of the quarter-final 3-2 on aggregate.
“We did it in the end, and that’s the most important thing, even if we suffered over the two legs,” Dzeko told Sky Sport Italia.
“The team showed character and above all after going a goal down, which could’ve in the past knocked the wind out of us, today we fought back and ran to the very end.
“After all that, we fully deserved our place in the semi-final.”
Cristante started the move from defence, with Riccardo Calafiori providing the assist from the left.
“I have to stay there and wait for the ball! I might try to run a little less at 35, but I know better where the ball is going to end up.
“It was a great move, playing out from the back with three or four passes, though we didn’t do it enough tonight. I am happy for Cala, because he was starting a Europa League quarter-final and provided a decisive assist, it’s great for him.”
Roma have won 12 of their 14 Europa League games this season. Can they face Manchester United on an even playing field?
“If we’re in the semi-final, then of course we can. It certainly hasn’t been an easy path, as Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax were basically the toughest draws we could get.
“Now we are facing another big name, but Roma are a big name too and we must give everything to reach the Final.”
It has been a difficult campaign for Dzeko, who was frozen out in January following a row with coach Fonseca and brought back in, but stripped of the captain’s armband.
“This is my sixth year here. There have been many ups and downs, this season wasn’t my best on a personal level for many reasons. I don’t like looking at the past, what happened has happened, we have to look to the future.
“There are many lads here playing their first semi-final and we’ve got to enjoy it, because playing at Old Trafford doesn’t happen every day.
“I always said the Roma armband was an honour for me, but I play for Roma and not for the armband. I will always give my all for Roma, today, tomorrow and in future.
“It’s difficult to think about that now, we’ve got a semi-final coming up and Serie A games too, so we’ll see at the end.”
After he was frozen out and brought back in, largely because there was no transfer available, how hard was it to be benched and fight to win his place in the team?
“It’s tough when you played at the highest level, some things were difficult to accept, but I’ve always been strong mentally and I could never have got this far if I was weak.
“That’s what kept me going through this situation. The important thing is Roma, not the armband or Edin Dzeko, not anyone.”
???????????? ????????????????— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 15, 2021
Edin Dzeko dedicates his #UCL hat-trick to Riccardo Calafiori, after the youngster suffers a career-threatening injury in a #UYL game.
Calafiori provides the crucial assist for Dzeko as we reach the semi-finals of the #UEL!#ASRoma #RomaAjax pic.twitter.com/rjBqtWdqaG