The following interview first appeared here and is reproduced in full:

This summer, after just a year in Madrid, he changed club, city and country.  What he did last summer, when he moved from Bayern to the vice-champion of Europe – Atletico, he repeated this year when he again signed for the vice-champion of Europe – Juventus. Mario Mandžukić will have some difficulties to narrow down the multitude of events which occurred last 3 years if he decides to write autobiography. He moved from the best Bayern ever to very good Atletico, and now he is in record-holder club – Juventus. He changed many coaches too: Heynckes, Guardiola, Simeone, Allegri. He scored many goals, and won many trophies. And of course there were some crisis in his career:  bad form, injuries and not so good relationship with the famous coach.

Since he came in Torino, in the club which already wanted him in their lines 3,5 years ago, in the land which he had long been pinpointed as one of the preferred destinations for football and life generally, Mandžukić didn’t speak with the press. In his case, that’s typical behavior. You could say that he doesn’t like press, but it’s more real to say that he likes to be isolated. He has his own world, and he doesn’t allow to anyone to penetrate into that world. His “professional life” is very visible to anyone. He doesn’t think that he needs to explain someone something that is visible.

This summer he told us that we can talk with him at the end of the year, and then he’ll look back and say something about whole year. We got impression that that was his polite way of refusing an interview, but since he went on vacation, on 20th of December, we started to remind him on that deal.

I wish everyone happy holidays! And about that interview, why do you insist so hard?

We need to. People are interested in how you feel, especially since you have completed half-season in great style, which a month ago looked dramatically, both for Juve and for you. You have not even talked since you changed the club. We noticed that you didn’t speak neither with the Italian colleagues yet.

I didn’t. I don’t like that very much, I love my own peace. I’m not mad at the journalists, I don’t blame them, though they add up a lot in the texts, but I understand that they must write something. I think that the most important thing is what I show in the field, my performance,  and then everyone can make their own judgments.

Let’s talk about your performance then. You finished half-season in Juventus with 18 games, 9 goals and 1 assist. You played 66.3 minutes per game in average. These are your standards. What did happen at the beginning when crisis shook  Juve because of bad results and you because of lower performance?  

I must say that Juve started very well, we won Italian cup, I scored for win against Lazio, everything seemed so promising. But at the start of the championship, we got into a bad run with 2 losses and a draw, and, in accordance with the reputation of Juve immediately tensions mounted. All the bad coincided for the team, and me personally. Not only  that I wasn’t good on the field,  injuries started attacking me, I had an infection that plagued me for a long time and weakened.  Sometimes I  stayed awake all night and thought about what’s happening to me,  like I was  completely blocked. I was really desperate because I couldn’t see the way out of the situation that never happened to me in career.

You have 29 years so it is logical that injuries could catch you up, especially because you changed  within a year three clubs, three cities and countries, three methodologies of work. Why didn’t you wanted to speak anything publicly?

Nothing of that would help, you’d just say that I’m looking for an alibi. In that unfortunate match against Udinese at the start I hit a billboard with the elbow in the area of the ankle bone. They sutured my wound, but then the wound suddenly began badly hurting and pulsating during the night.  There was an infection, I had to take a bunch of antibiotics and pain was continuous for almost two months. At the training, the match, every touch was hell. I didn’t want to complain, I’m not that type, even though it was clear that it was not me. My immune system weakened, I felt weak, powerless. Then I had a hamstring injury, another pause, and the additional burden to normal  work. Horrible …

Everything of that seems pretty unreal for you, because until this spring you were like a tank, immune to injury, and to any load which will be an obstacle to good preparation and unconditional fight. Since the injury of an ankle in the match against Bayer in UCL this spring,  it seems like things get quite bad as compensation for all past years?

I don’t know what to say. In Atletico I was in the standards of my performance until I injured foot and began to suffer great pain. I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want any relief, I forced myself and obviously I was wrong. So definitely I couldn’t return the form and recover that way.


Can we get to bring back the story of you leaving Atletico?

I had great time in Madrid. Everything was fine with me: club, coach, city, life, league. That injury was a key factor that disturbed me, because I’m just not the same when I’m not 100% ready to fight. Newspapers wrote a lot of things – that I have disturbed relationship with the coach, but those are lies. Simeone was always fair to me, he supported and encouraged me, he always emphasized how much am I important to the team. I had  excellent relationship with my teammates. But when things go wrong, it’s hard to break that line.

Why, then, there was a separation? When did you feel that you might too soon leave Madrid, where you bought the house as an indication of long-term plans of staying?

No one said to me they want me to go, actually they wanted me to stay. But when a story  about those alleged bad relations with the coach was spread, there were few clubs interested to purchase me.

Which clubs?

It makes no sense to include the names now, I can only talk about  Juventus.


Nothing special, I’m a guy who likes new and difficult challenges, but my idea really was a long term stay in Madrid. But in that strange period and atmosphere, with offers from other clubs, little by little, in me matured the view that is perhaps the best for me and for Atletico to take into consideration, for example, a very decent interest of great Juventus.

We remember the interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, before the match Bayern Munich – Juventus, two years ago, when you said that Gigi Buffon is your idol from childhood, that you like Italian football and lifestyle, that Juve was one of your favorite clubs as a boy which nurtures football dreams?

That is true. I had serious contact with Juve before Euro 2012, but then Bayern showed up and assured me that they want me in their team. I played in the Bundesliga, Bayern was the top story. I went to Munich,but three years later fate wanted me to get to Turin.

We noticed that a great respect to the senators of Juventus, Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli wasn’t just a courtesy story while you were rivals?

It is definitely that I had great respect for those maverick players and individuals before the arrival. I already knew Barzagli from the common days in Wolfsburg. Others I met in the national team duels and club clashes. I said, Buffon was my idol from childhood, with Chiellini I had a hard fight, but we always shakad hands at the end of the game. It’s a real man’s fight, no pats nor crying, I very much appreciate those guys. I knew actually half of Juventus very well before I came, and it certainly just strengthened my conviction when I was invited to accept the offer.

Coach Allegri welcomed you with open arms even though the supporters were skeptical after the departure of Tevez, Pirlo, Vidal. His role was crucial in a time when the results were in crisis and there were many complaints on your game?

The coach gave me a lot of support, expressing confidence in my potential. I knew that he insisted on my arrival, which is a very important factor in the decision for each player. With such confidence he stood behind me in the difficult phase, and it really meant a lot to me.

Now everything looks great, but in September and October there were rumors about the shift, bad investments, you among them, the anger of fans?

What I perceived immediately after arriving in Turin, it is the size of the club. Juventus is an institution, wherever it appears, there is a bunch of fans and admirers, the media is greatly involved in the club. It is logical that a crisis of results, after four years of domination, caused a lot of tensions and discussions. What fascinated me, it’s a club’s response. The leaders of the club came to the camp and with their presence they were immediately giving away the seriousness of the situation. However, it was discreet, without any panic and fuss, just an invitation to the full mobilization and the necessity of the return to the levels which belong to Juve.