Former Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner has no doubts about Andrea Pirlo as Juventus coach and expains why a ‘Champions League Curse’ can’t enter into the mindset of Juventini.
The Swiss Express spent seven years in Turin, playing alongside Pirlo for many of them, and was the first player to score at the new stadium in an official match, assisted of course, by the Maestro.
“Seven years at Juventus is worth twenty in another club,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport, “There is a very high pressure and it is the club itself that creates it, making you understand how important it is to win.
“You have to be very strong mentally to resist, and Juve gets inside you day after day: they don’t talk to you often, but they give you ‘Juventinita’ by example. Del Piero, Buffon, Chiellini, Pirlo: I looked at them and learned.”
“The first goal? One of the most beautiful. The assist from Pirlo, I stopped it with my right and scored with my left. When I’m old I’ll enjoy all the memories.”
“Pirlo as coach? The news surprised me, but only for a couple of seconds. It’s a great choice, Andrea has enormous credibility. He will manage the group: he is calm, friendly, knows the environment.
“He reminds me of Zidane, of course not Conte or Simeone! He’ll scream when he needs to. It only matters that he has a good impact on the group. And I have no doubt.”
“Will he be protected? At Juve you win the Scudetto and maybe some people say you failed if you don’t. It might almost be better for the club if they don’t win it once.
“But it is clear that Andrea will claim the tenth Scudetto in a row. He will be protected by the executives and especially, the historical nucleus of the team: Gigi, Giorgio, Leo. Pirlo will need some time, but it will work.”
“Pirlo’s pranks? Mamma mia how many times was I victim!… And they were perfect jokes: they were already timed perfectly….
“A Champions League curse? It happened that we played against Messi’s Barcelona and Ronaldo’s Real. You should not think of a curse or the fact that you never win: that’s reasoning for losers, not for Juventini. In Berlin, we went close and there was a penalty on Pogba at 1-1.
“Conte? Antonio is a phenomenon: in one season he does the work that another technician does in three. He turned me from a great full-back to a champion.
“Every year in February I didn’t have any more to give because I ran a lot, but then he found a way to get something more from me that I didn’t know I had inside.”
“Did I know I was hated by opposition fans? Certainly. It’s a good thing I’m different off the field. Sometimes I looked at myself and didn’t recognize myself. I was sorry for certain behaviours. It happened, however, that I did it on purpose: I discharged the tension, the opponents react to it. Do you know what Conte always said to me? “If you want to win you have to be a son of a bitch…”
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