Paulo Dybala believes the passion he experiences from Roma fans is similar to the experiences he has had with the Argentine national team. La Joya gave a lengthy interview to Spanish paper AS where he talked about his first experiences in the capital, and touched on the importance of Jose Mourinho.
He went on to discuss his historic club presentation, his time with Juventus and his hobbies and interests outside of football:
What have you learned about Roma by living the club from the inside?
“The passion and sense of belonging they have is very similar to what you experience in Argentina. In Europe, for us who come from there, everything seems quieter, but here it is different. People make you feel it from day one, many put the club first in their lives, even before their families. They show it in every game: last year at the Olimpico it was always sold out. To fight alongside them was very nice. When I arrived as a rival I saw the environment, but I didn’t experience it like I do now.”
Totti always praises you and publicly asked for your purchase. Did you talk to him?
“I saw him before I arrived, at Eto’o’s charity match in Milan. We didn’t talk much, because there were cameras, but I am very grateful to him for the words he had for me. He is a god here, he is a legend for the fans and he has all my admiration.”
How did you experience the day of your historic presentation?
“I didn’t know anything about it. After the conference, Director Tiago told me there would be a presentation, but I thought it was just a photo and some video. I never imagined everything that happened. We were on our way to the center, we passed by the Square Coliseum and I started seeing people with flags… It was a really crazy moment. Sometimes you play in front of 70,000 people and you are calm, there I was nervous. All those people were there for me, I had never played for them and I was coming from a rival. Once I got out, I tried to enjoy it and live in the moment. I was coming back from a difficult period and they gave me great joy.”
The “rival” was Juve. 12 titles, 293 games, 115 goals, the same as Baggio, and the constant praise of another legend like Del Piero. Was it difficult to change?
“It was not easy and it was unexpected. A few months earlier I had found out that I would not be renewed by the club, but until a few days before, the reality was different. It was a very hard blow, I had been there for so long and it was like home. I knew everyone, the stadium, the fans, I was the second captain… My idea was to stay, but football is like that, I was not the first and I will not be the last. I am and always will be grateful to the club, which made me grow as a person and as a footballer. It has been seven very good years.”
In Turin you played with Cristiano, in Argentina with Messi.
“Being next to them, you learn. If you are intelligent, just by watching them you realize a lot of things about how they work, how they take care, every detail. You have to try to absorb, then it’s hard to do what they do, because no one else has succeeded. I am privileged: I played and won with both of them.”
You’ve absorbed a lot: with the Portuguese you were MVP of Serie A, with the Argentine you went to the top of the world.
“With Cristiano I had three seasons where we won a lot and had a great team. With Leo I shared the locker room for many years and the last few were incredible. After struggling so much he deserved it, and in the end he emerged as the best.”
Do you follow him in the MLS?
“Yes, and I am not surprised by his numbers. He will be in another final, he has a chance to be the player with the most titles in history… And Cristiano won another title in Arabia. It’s not at all normal what they do.”
You are also passionate about the NBA.
“I like it very much. Unfortunately, we finished the season late and I was not able to attend the finals live, but in the past I had a chance to go and watch some playoff games.”
Jalen Brunson, during the playoffs, celebrated with a gesture similar to your “Mask.”
“(Yes!) I wasn’t watching the game, it’s hard to match schedules, but they turned the picture over to me right away.”
We know you are an avid tennis fan. And a great friend of Alcaraz.
“He is a phenomenon. We met during an ATP interview and have kept in touch. I don’t like to bother, but I told him I would be at Wimbledon this year, waited for him after a match, and we chatted. He told me he was going to send me a gift, and I said, “Not yet. I know you are going to win Wimbledon, and when you do, I will want the gift. Not before.” So it was. Carlos is incredible, he will mark the next 15 years. What Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have done is not easy, but he has all the characteristics to imitate them. Rafa is for you Spaniards like Messi or Maradona for us-I don’t want to compare him yet, but Alcaraz has everything to be like him.”
We also saw you at Silverstone.
“Formula 1 invited us, I had never been to a race before and I really enjoyed it. It’s an event I didn’t imagine like this, I saw the cars up close, I talked to the drivers. I got to know another reality: the drivers, like in tennis, are alone. There is a lot of psychology and I asked a lot about their preparation. They go at an incredible speed in such small spaces….”
Going back to football, I remind you that you are world champion.
“The more time passes, the more I realize it. The adrenaline of celebration doesn’t give you time to think. Now you walk and meet Argentinians who thank you in a unique way. The situation in our country is not easy, to have given such great joy to people is a reward. There are many moments I carry inside, but one of the most beautiful is when they give you the medal, you walk and in the middle is the Cup, without anyone else. Seeing it shining there, being able to touch it, kiss it … It’s the only moment you live alone with it. That’s when you say, “We did it, it’s ours.”
You’ve won two titles. You missed the America’s Cup.
“Of course, that’s one of my goals. We won the World Cup, the Final and when the Copa America was won unfortunately I was not available. I will give everything to be there and fight for the trophy that I miss.”
You are in your footballing maturity, what is your goal now?
“I am in an ideal moment in terms of maturity and fitness. After achieving so many goals, I see competitions differently and feel I can help my teammates. My first goal is to always be 100 percent, the second is to win. When you win, you always want it more. Today in the locker room we have players and a coach with many trophies, so you create a winning mentality that, in the details, can be decisive.”
A maturity that you also live off the field. You are followed by more than 100 million people on social media.
“I try to be as natural as possible. That has helped me, maybe that’s what people like about me. I never show something that I am not. I don’t live it as a burden or a responsibility, I try to do things well, without disrespecting anyone, I know many children look at me or and I want to be the best example naturally, without selling smoke, showing that by working seriously you can achieve your dreams.”
You have spent most of your career in Italy. Do you think you will return, sooner or later, to Argentine football?
“I hope to return someday. Today I am happy in Italy, where I feel at home. The country treats me well and so do the fans, whatever team they are from. I have never had problems with supporters of other clubs, this makes you feel that you have earned the respect of the people on the field. And it’s very nice.”