Thursday January 19 2017
Donnarumma: 'Proud to play for Milan'

Gianluigi Donnarumma spoke of his “pride” at wearing the Milan jersey, where he needs to improve and facing hometown club Napoli.

The two sides face off at San Siro on Saturday at 19.45 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“We are preparing well for Napoli, as it’s an important game and we want to recover points we dropped along the way,” the 17-year-old goalkeeper told Milan TV.

“My parents will be in the stadium. Facing Napoli is always an emotional moment for me. There are many Milan fans in my neck of the woods and I love to make them proud, including my family, who support Milan.

“When I return home, there’s always plenty of affection. I also hear from other players who hail from the Campania area, for example Antonio Nocerino.

“I have to thank my family, as they are always close by and ensure I don’t feel lonely. I also thank my girlfriend. My father can’t watch the games in the stadium anymore, as after the first match against Torino he could barely walk! Now my father in law Carmine will come to the right game, I’m turning him into a Milanista.”

Donnarumma seems to have an incredibly cool head on his shoulders for one so young, especially when it comes to saving penalties.

“There are moments when you are struggling a little, but I try to stay concentrated. I have to transmit a sense of calm to the rest of the team.

“I do a lot of work on penalties and on everything, really. I try to work out where a player is going to aim. It probably also helps that I’m tall and therefore take up a lot of space. I try to stay still until the final second and keep it natural.

“The same goes for the save on Sami Khedira when we beat Juventus at San Siro. I can’t explain how I did it, it’s just a gesture that came naturally to me. I work hard in training and this all comes down to the sacrifices I make. The cheer at San Siro after that save was indescribable.

“I am very proud to wear the Milan jersey. We wear an important shirt and therefore must always play in a determined manner to honour it. I try to fire up my teammates when we step on to the field.”

Is there an area where Donnarumma still needs to improve?

“I have done better than last year with the ball at my feet, working hard on that in training. When the opponent runs at me, I can sometimes dribble away. Being good with your feet is important in modern football. I try to imitate Manuel Neuer, who practically acts as the fifth defender when starting moves.”

Donnarumma has already won his first trophy, beating Juventus in Doha on penalties for the Supercoppa Italiana.

“It was extraordinary and the victory was down to the group, as we were so hungry for it. Afterwards we celebrated for a long time.

“We’re a good group of lads and this season there’s a very relaxed atmosphere. I’m good friends with Davide Calabria, though he tries to beat me up and says I’m irritating! Alessio Romagnoli is always asleep when we travel.”