Giorgio Chiellini’s best years in football are arguably behind him after being plagued with numerous injury problems in the last few seasons.
Nonetheless, the Juventus captain remains one of the best defenders in the world whenever fully fit.
His latest return to the the pitch saw him helping Juve in relaunching their season after a tough defeat against Inter in league last month.
The veteran played a vital part in the Italian Super Cup triumph against Napoli, and in the two following Serie A wins against Bologna and Sampdoria. The Old Lady maintained a clean sheet in all three encounters.
The Italy captain gave a candid interview to So Foot (translated by Football Italia), where he spoke about the difference between his on-field and off-field characters as well as several other topics, including his biggest rival on the football pitch.
“I have to find a rivalry to give my best. I respect Zlatan very much, we respect each other.
“We were teammates in my first season at Juve. I was never afraid to face him, never took a step back.
“He became an absolute enemy by moving to Inter, then a simple opponent at Milan or with the national team.”
Although he’s considered to be one of the greatest defenders in modern football, Chiellini feels that he doesn’t possess the same qualities of the likes of Sergio Ramos and Virgil van Dijk.
“I’m very pleased to win a duel. When I block a dangerous shot or save a goal, I get an adrenaline rush.
“It’s a different joy from scoring, it’s not comparable, but those saves in the important games, I still have them inside me.
“The goal I scored in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Barcelona gave me much less satisfaction than when I stopped Harry Kane from scoring in the 89th minute.
“That match against Tottenham was very tight. There was the hug with Gigi Buffon and [Andrea] Barzagli after. A strong moment.”
“To win duels with forwards, you have to be pessimistic and foresee the worst. It’s the price reserved for “normal” players like me or Barzagli.
“Don’t get me wrong, Andrea was a very good defender, but we don’t have the qualities of Sergio Ramos or Virgil van Dijk.” Continued the 36-year-old.
“I’m rather shy and reserved, but on the pitch, I’m capable of doing anything to win.”
With his contract set to expire in June, the defender was naturally asked about the possibility of his retirement inside an empty stadium.
“Without fans, it’s not football,” Chiellini added. “The emotions are lacking. However, it’s always better than nothing.
“Unfortunately, you have to adapt.”
And finally, the Juventus captain was asked about playing in the proposed European Super League.
“Five years ago, I told President [Andrea] Agnelli that I hoped to play every week against Barca, Real, PSG, Bayern.
“For a high-level footballer, it’s the best. I hope to see some major changes. Perhaps with a new format of the Champions League.
“The football product needs to be improved. With COVID, we are stuck and growth has given way to uncertainty.”