Veteran Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini believes the club is lucky to have the Agnelli family ‘watching over’ them. The Bianconeri captain gave a lengthy interview to The Times in which he discussed his career, toughest opponents and the role the Agnelli’s have played in ensuring the longevity of Juve.
When I was younger I was more . . . fire! I needed an enemy. I didn’t have a good relationship with strikers. But now I like to talk to them in games, I like to share the feelings of what is happening on the field. I’m joking with them sometimes. I’m not aggressive. Now, the enemy is not an enemy, he’s a friend playing against me, and I understand that if I don’t lose my energy fighting, I’m more lucid and concentrate better. My performance has grown up.
Defending is something you have to feel inside. You have to be happy to not permit the striker to make the play he wants. It’s a role of studying, because you have to understand the opponent and catch their intention. It’s a role to anticipate everything. And then it’s also an emotional role. I mean, touching before the cross or launch [high ball] . . . you start to feel the connection with the opponent. You have to impress him with your superiority, make him nervous. Make him know he doesn’t receive the ball, he receives a push before he receives the ball. If you play football , you’ll understand what I’m saying.
Toughest opponents? At the moment, I think [Kylian] Mbappé is the most talented. I first played against Mbappé when he was 18 in 2017 and he was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what he’s like now and what he can do in the future. I love his mentality.
From the past my best enemy was [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. He is unlucky to play in the period of Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi because without them, Ibra would have a few Ballons d’Or.
Juventus? This is a club that tries to give everything to the players, so they can just play football. We’re lucky to have, watching over our heads, a family [owners, the Agnelli dynasty] who have been here nearly 100 years. For them this is not just an investment.
They want to create something and the most important verb is ‘to win’. That doesn’t mean you have to win everything — but at Juventus you always aim to win.”