Federico Chiesa believes the support of the Juventus fans ‘helped him a lot’ during his time on the sidelines. The Bianconeri winger spent almost 12 months recovering from an ACL injury before finally making a return to the pitch earlier this year. Speaking with the club’s official Twitch channel (as quoted by TuttoJuve), the 23-year-old discussed a number of topics, including his idols as a youngster, how his teammates helped him during his recovery and what it feels like to be making a documentary about his return to playing:
How did you react when you were asked to make this documentary?
“I talked to Juventus shortly after the operation, at first they wanted to do small episodes on Youtube and I said yes right away. I was very pleased to show how hard the rehabilitation journey was. Then they asked me to include the part of my personal life, because my family made a difference in coming out of a really difficult time in my career.
They wanted to show the emotions, the obstacles that were overcome together, but also what people experienced in being around me and going through this together with me. My mum and dad always saw me on the pitch, not on crutches. Those are different emotions. My parents went through it too, my dad ruptured his patellar tendon on both the right and left side, they had already been through it so. When I was sick they were the first ones to give me strength. My mom told me, ‘This happens in football, it’s a contact sport.'”
Did you watch the documentary again?
“I lived it and then I watched the final product twice. The first time with my girlfriend Lucia and then with my family.”
You always said you were not angry about your injury….
“Definitely, over the course of my career, I’ve had more bad knocks, where maybe I was running at high speeds and got knocked down. You take more of a risk there. In that case there, where I was hurt, looking back at the collision, it certainly wasn’t pretty, however Smalling’s goal was to catch the ball. He went for the ball, he didn’t do it with malice. These things in contact sports happen. I saw my former teammate, Rodrigo Bentancur, to whom I want to wish good luck, as he ruptured his ACL by himself. It took very little, it’s things that happen a thousand times but it only takes a fraction of a second where you lean your foot wrong you’re then 6/7 months off. Sometimes you think ‘Man I broke everything, then you get back up.”
Do you happen to think about your injury?
“I had that thought the first few practice sessions with the team. There I kept thinking about when I got injured, after the debut the thought disappeared. During ball possessions at first I had flashbacks but that is normal. The idea of the documentary was to show the rehabilitation path on a physical level but especially on a mental level. I can say that I was lucky, in my bad luck, to have been injured at Juve because it is one of the most important clubs in the world and has the best facilities at the medical level. In that aspect I was lucky, it is a top club and everything is at a very high level. From the gym to the pitches to all the people. The guys who work in the minor leagues don’t have all that, so they struggle 10 times more than we do. At the injury level there are even worse injuries, now it usually takes 6 months, I had problems in rehabilitation but I was lucky enough to be in an environment to fix it. Just so much respect for those who play in lesser categories who come back from an injury like the ACL. You can see in the documentary at the end: from the doctors to the physical therapist, that in the end it was a rehabilitation done together.”
Has the support of the fans helped you?
“Yes, a lot really and it helps me even now, because I feel the closeness of the Juventus fans, that only makes me happy. The affection I have won with my performance on the pitch and for what I give for the jersey. Every step I take has been done together with all the Juventus fans and people who love me.”
When did Giorgio Chiellini help you?
“Giorgio, because he suffered this injury, but also Bonucci, De Ligt and Dusan when he arrived. However, as Giorgio told me, every rehabilitation is different. He only had some problems initially, but for me at the beginning everything went very well then I had some problems. An ACL for two players always has a different path. Giorgio always had pain in the beginning to flex his leg, I on the other hand in the first 3 weeks reached it without major problems. On an emotional level, however, all rehabilitations come together. In his injury, Giorgio said that as a positive, he spent a lot of time with his family. I also spent time to be close to my girlfriend, the family. Given the many games we play, it can’t always be done.”
Your idol as a child?
“As a child it was always Kaka, now the player I like most is Mbappé. I exchanged shirts with him, I framed it, he is very strong really, an absolute champion. He is disarming. He is faster than I am, he has an ease with the ball and a quickness of foot that you see in few players. Then at the level of scoring, he is very strong: someone who at 23 years old scores a hat trick in the World Cup final, he is a superstar.”
How come you chose number 7?
“I wanted to change the number. For me the important numbers are from 1 to 7, I asked Dusan if I could take it. On the level of recent history, someone who is part of the 5 greatest in the history of football wore it, so it is even more of an honor. Then the 7 for me is a beautiful number. Then it is the 7 of Juventus that was worn by Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Fans see you with the Ballon d’Or one day…
“Thank you very much. Let’s think about winning a trophy this year that would also be very nice because of what is happening to us.”
Your favorite goal at Juventus?
“Good question. I like, my first goal at Juventus, against Atalanta in November 2020, from outside the box. But also the second one against Porto, from the header. It was great to score in the Champions League and then header.”
You kick with both feet. When do you decide to use the right or the left?
“On the pitch you have to make a decision quickly. I train on both feet during all training sessions, kicking both left and right but also with my head. So on the field I try to make a quicker choice, it’s a matter of milliseconds.”
Your most important game since you’ve been playing football?
“On an emotional level the one against Porto, in the round of 16 of the Champions League with Juventus. We deserved to qualify from the round, we didn’t succeed and it was too bad because we could have had our say. We made an incredible effort, I was sorry, then in a competition like the Champions League we saw again this year how difficult it is. On a positive level it was nice to win the Italian Cup final by scoring a goal.”