Riccardo Calafiori

Calafiori: “Thiago Motta has improved me, Chiellini the number one” – La Stampa

Calafiori: “Thiago Motta has improved me, Chiellini is the number one.” The Azzurri defender at Coverciano: “Now I don’t think about the market, I want to enjoy this first call-up. I have grown a lot mentally, Bologna is fun to play in.” FLORENCE.

Six years ago, after a serious injury, Riccardo Calafiori received a terrible verdict: “They told me that I would never be able to play again, but I believed it for only ten minutes: I reacted immediately and aimed for a comeback on the field, no matter when or at what level but I would still be a footballer.” He was 16 years old and played for Roma, he suffered a foul in the Youth League at Tre Fontane against Viktoria Plzen: ligaments, capsule, and meniscus of the left knee shattered. “Mino Raiola advised me to have the surgery in Pennsylvania, where Zlatan had already operated. He was right, I will always remember his humility.”

Today he is in the Azzurri, among Luciano Spalletti’s pre-called players, with a good chance of flying to Germany, he who on the night of Wembley went out into the streets after watching the final with his family, and who only two years ago, with closed doors in Italy, had to emigrate to Switzerland, to Basle: “Not completely my choice, but there were no other opportunities: I was looking for spaces that I couldn’t have at Roma and not even at Genoa. I was not convinced, instead from the first day I found the ideal environment for a young player: few pressures and a lot of trust. This season in Bologna, I tried to maintain calmness and give my best, the great growth has been mental.” Thiago Motta has been decisive, not only on that level: “With him, the personality I had inside came out, I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes and when I did, he helped me to progress.

I enjoyed his style of play, it was nice to go out on the field after a week of work. With Spalletti, there are several common traits, one is meticulousness: they do not accept mistakes and always want to improve you. Both practice a proactive football, where flexibility is important: now all teams are organized and you shouldn’t give references.” It’s inevitable to ask how much he would like to follow Thiago, but Calafiori, a skilled defender in setting up play, transforms into an old-style stopper: “We are at Coverciano, I want to enjoy the first call-up: I live with serenity, and it’s my secret, even the pairings with the top teams.”

The only clue is the past tense he uses when talking about Bologna (“I can only say thank you, I will always remember the match against Juventus and the open bus”), then he retreats into a corner: “I used the past because the celebrations are over.” Fourteen called-up players have less than 10 appearances for Italy, it is a young Italy like his Bologna and like Bologna, it can surprise: “This is the European champion national team, but many things have changed and the tranquility, the innocence of being young, and not thinking too much, can become an advantage. I dream of the European Championship, I give it my all: we are united and the atmosphere is special.” Models?

“I steal from everyone, starting with Bastoni, devastating. I think Chiellini was the number one in marking: it will be difficult to reach his level also because football has changed a bit. I will certainly try to follow his example: I am a versatile player, but I need to improve in many aspects. What does the word libero, Scirea, Baresi, and the play defenders tell me?

I haven’t seen them, but I know them: different worlds, it’s hard to make comparisons.”


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