Simone Zaza admits he will “never forget” the missed Euro 2016 penalty. “I didn’t have the strength to rise from it,” but he’s found it again at Valencia.
The Italy international also spoke to Marca about his struggles at West Ham United and embracing life at Valencia. You can read the rest here.
“Has the best Zaza returned? I’m the same as I was at Juve, but Juve are one of the best teams in Europe and there was a lot of competition, a lot of rivalry.
“I didn’t play much, but when I did I scored goals, and in several games I was decisive. It was a year that I needed for my development, learning the mentality of a big team, with great hunger of succeeding and winning.
“I’m a player that needs to learn many more things, but little by little I’m returning to the player that I was.”
Unfortunately, Zaza never quite seemed the same after missing a penalty in the Euro 2016 shoot-out with Germany.
“My missed penalty at Euro 2016? I’ll never forget it, that’s impossible,” he told Marca.
“However, my mentality is different now. I took the blow. It was very difficult for a while and I didn’t have the strength to rise from all that.
“I’ve never had problems that affected me, but this was different. However, things have changed now. Here, I feel looked after, I feel that the fans love me and respect me, and that to me is important.
“Now, when I play, I can do things right or wrong, but I’ll still give everything I have and the fans know that.
“Where does Zaza get his strength from? My family, my girlfriend, the people that love me. I have a motto: when I leave the pitch, I can’t have any regrets. I must have left everything on it.
“I know that I’m not a Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Diego Maradona, Marco van Basten or Ronaldo, but I’m a good player that can do things well.
“If I play and give everything I have to help the team and reach my limit, to that limit in each game, I’ll do well.
“Returning to the national team? That depends on many things. For now, I’m playing well, against Alaves not so much! I was tired in that game, but the real Zaza is on his way back, the Zaza that isn’t a fake.
“It depends on the Coach, but I’m on track. Scoring goals, playing, running, yellow cards ... not red ones!
“Valencia are the team that gave me the opportunity to play again as I know how. That, for me, is very important and I’m mindful of it.
“I’m very grateful to this club for the chance they took on me. I thought [Marco] Di Vaio did well here.
“I’ve scored two goals at Mestalla on the side of our fans so far. The game against Madrid was incredible. I was very tense and nervous for my first goal and I really couldn’t enjoy it like I wanted to, but my goal against Real Madrid, when the whole stadium shook… I could feel it from the grass.
“We’ve lacked a reference point in attack, and little by little I’m adapting to the team and beginning to understand them.
“We’re playing a different type of football now because before there wasn’t a target man up top and there weren’t so many central attackers. Now, we’re starting to get to know each other.”