Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara reveals that his role model is Alessandro Nesta, after recent comparisons to Juventus legend Gaetano Scirea.
The 22-year-old has signed for the Bianconeri but will remain in Bergamo until the end of next season.
Comparisons with Scirea’s assist to Marco Tardelli in the final of World Cup ‘82 came after he scored a brace against Napoli on Saturday, but what does Caldara think to this?
"The mentality is similar," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The idea that defenders should initiate action. And then there's a bit of everything: lucidity, instinct, imagination. You try it and go."
At the time, Atalanta were 1-0 up but were down to 10 men. What made Caldara decide to go upfield?
"When I gave the ball to Spina [Leonardo Spinazzola] I was sure it would arrive in the end. So I went forward.
"[Gian Piero] Gasperini says that as defenders, when we have the ball at our feet we can become offensive. Spina then gave me a great ball and I do not know how I managed to score."
The youngster has been praised for an exemplary attitude. What does he put this down to?
"I credit it to education from my parents. It’s also a question of character: I’m not a brawler, and so I have not become this on the pitch.
"They tell me that I was good, that I didn’t fight much when I was young. I only have two bookings so far. But this is how I am, if I go in, I’m convinced I’ll take the ball. Otherwise I’ll hold off.
"This comparison is a great incentive, but it is also excessive. What Scirea did is amazing, to me it would be enough to do half of this. We are different.
"Nesta is my role model. He was successful through elegance and the ability to see what others were doing before they did it."
Has Caldara always been a defender?
"At Scanzorosciate I was a midfielder, then Atalanta played me further back. Luckily: I never played in the middle again, and I’m stronger now."
After various loan spells, the player reveals his anxiety over whether he would be included in the Atalanta squad, then goes on to describe his surprise call-up to the side when La Dea faced Napoli for the first time this season.
"Every summer I waited anxiously for a call from Atalanta. It arrived in early July, so June was not an easy month, I thought that perhaps they would leave me at home.
"On Fridays Gasperini usually tries the formation at training and gives bibs to those who will start. That Friday I was among the reserves.
"Then, as he was leaving, he told me that it was time to make a change in the season. I did not understand. On Saturday he gave me a bib but I did not think I would play really: he risked the sack. But instead it went brilliantly."
Which striker has made Caldara suffer the most?
"[Mario] Mandzukic: I have never gotten a grip of him.
"Of course I've thought about signing for Juve. For now I’m at Atalanta and we want to do something important for this city and these fans.
"But I was impressed by JMedical and above all the Stadium: it’s the place that excited me the most. There is an incredible atmosphere."
Is the defender following Juventus in the Champions League?
"Of course, even if I have to leave the house because my father does not have a subscription! Against Porto they were all good. [Andrea] Barzagli and [Giorgio] Chiellini, seemed to have a cigarette in his mouth because they were never in trouble.
"From [Leonardo] Bonucci I’d like the ability to create, from Barzagli, his man marking skills and Chiellini’s grit. And from all three I would like their incredible mental strength. When they decide that you won’t score, you don’t score. And maybe you don’t even shoot. They are amazing."
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