Juventus legend Michel Platini believes Paulo Dybala is more like Maradona than he was and recalls how Gianni Agnelli told him Juve have to win the European Cup on his first day in Turin.
The former UEFA President spoke with Il Corriere della Sera and recounted his early experiences with the Bianconeri and the first Scudetto he won with the club.
“I remember it, one point was enough, we played at home against Avellino: we drew 1-1,” he told the newspaper.
“It was a great personal satisfaction. A Frenchman who comes to Juve and wins: I will never forget it. In the locker room there were teammates who had already won Scudetti.
“There was a nice party, but it was not so important for them: they were used to it. I was the one who felt important, but we were programmed to win.
“We had lost the year before with Roma, even if we had always beaten them. We actually had European Cup syndrome: we couldn’t bring it home.
“We had lost in Athens in 1983, we knew we had to win the championship back to play in the European Cup again: back then only the champions went, now, it’s easier, four teams go through.
“In the the championship you play 38 matches, if you are stronger you win; in Champions League, the best does not always triumph. L’Avvocato (Gianni) Agnelli told me on my first day in Turin “We have to win the European Cup” – At that time, he already had a more European vision.”
Juventus won the European Cup against Liverpool at the Heysel stadium where 39 people tragically lost their lives.
“It’s not a good memory, it’s terrible. But on the field we won it, Liverpool gave us nothing.
“Can Juventus win the Champions League this year? The competition is much more open. There are three finals: quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Juve still has to play the last-16 and it will be tough against Lyon.
“I don’t think Lyon will be at a disadvantage. Football is not mathematics, Juve must win on the field, not in chatter. Lyon will come prepared for the match.
“Atalanta? A nice surprise, but PSG are the favourites. For the trophy, there are many teams in contention: Real, PSG, Manchester City, Barcelona.
“Juve struggled this year – When Juve are physically well, they are very strong, if they fall a little ‘they are in trouble.
“Ronaldo the new Platini? He doesn’t need to be me. He has done many things, in Manchester, in Madrid: he has always been a winner, he has always won titles
“For Juventus it was a good move to make him come to Turin: Ronaldo has a young spirit, he never gives up anything.”
Even with Ronaldo, Juventus have not yet managed to win the Champions League – At 35 years old, he is almost at the end of his career: how do you manage?
“End of your career or end of your life? I retired when I was 32, because I had a bad tendon. Ronaldo does not have to think about the end of his career, he decides fate.
“I didn’t want to be a coach, and fate made me. Then it pushed me to be President of the World Cup in France, there I met Blatter and threw myself into politics, UEFA and then FIFA.
“I mean, I didn’t decide, it happened. Ronaldo will have proposals, he is strong, a good player, intelligent: a champion and an example. Zidane became Real Madrid coach after ten years getting bored. Fate does everything and makes you start something.
“Is Dybala like me? His style reminds of Sivori, but he looks more like Maradona than I do. It’s not that he has the talent of Maradona, his own talent is more than enough.”
And Buffon, who’s still playing at age 42?
“Eh, these goalkeepers never want to stop! I’m kidding, you need to have two, Juve needed him. Zoff was 13 years older than me, he was always with Screa: they were the consciences of the team.
“One day Trapattoni replaced me and I got angry. He said: “Michel, don’t worry, we have a strong team and everyone wants to play.”
Inter coach Antonio Conte recently said: “Second place is the first loser” Do you agree?
“It is not surprising, as Conte said, that he lives only through victories: he embodies what he is. But you are not the first of the last, you are second and that’s it: I understand what he means, I do not know if he is right, though.”
After nine consecutive championships, what must be Juve’s project be?
“Andrea Agnelli knows. Juve is programmed to win. Wins bring wins, money, big players-it’s a circle.”
The same teams always win and get stronger – Is the system correct?
“Being a Juventino I don’t regret much, I struggled so much to get to the top with them. Of course for Italian football it would be more interesting to have teams that compete.
“If you are referring to financial fair play, I will tell you that it was not done to punish, but to help the clubs in the beginning. Then, when you see that UEFA is asking for two years of suspension for Manchester City, you understand that everything has become more difficult.
“You always have to have a vision to help clubs, where everyone can play and win. A small team today has less and less chance, instead it should be able to play to aspire to the maximum.
“The hope of being able to do something good in football and in life is the engine, if that doesn’t exist, you go nowhere.”
How is your situation with FIFA?
“There’s little to say, I lost the trial, let’s see if I win in the Civil Courts: I’m 65 years old, I hope it doesn’t carry on much longer.
They asked for $1.8 million that Blatter paid you as a consultant….
“I paid half of that in taxes to the Swiss Treasury. I worked, and they had to pay me: first they gave it to me, now they want them back. They’re punishing me for getting paid. Come on, it’s all a joke, funny stuff. The truth is that they did not want me as President of FIFA, this is the only truth.
There was talk of a possible return to Football: at Juve, the ECA or French Federation. Are you eady to go back?
“I do not deny myself anything. Many things have been said, I am not tied to anything, let’s see.”