A five-time Serie A winner with Juventus, a world champion with Italy and German Bundesliga champion with Wolfsburg, Andrea Barzagli’s career has been shaped by success of the highest order.
The defender therefore provided the perfect voice with which to tackle the salient topic of tonight’s workshop, organised by Bianconeri Official Partner Randstad at Juventus Stadium: namely, the secrets behind achieving excellence, whether in life, at work or, especially in Barzagli’s case, on the football pitch.
In narrating the key moments to have defined his own path to the top, the 35-year-old began from his very first experiences in the game with provincial outfits San Michele Cattolica Virtus, Rondinella and Pistoiese.
“Back then I was simply a kid who dreamt, but never truly realised that he was able to fully pursue a career of that kind. It wasn’t originally my plan to become a professional footballer and Serie A was a very distant thought indeed.”
It might seem difficult to imagine now, but as a teenager Barzagli plied his trade in midfield until apparently receiving a word of advice incidentally from current coach at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri.
“I wasn’t so convinced about switching position at first, but gradually I got into the routine of marking my man. In my six months with Pistoiese, I played in the same team at Massimiliano Allegri, who maintains to this day that it was his idea for me to change position and become a defender!”
Paving one’s way in the game, however, requires much more than simply taking on board the suggestions of your manager and team-mates: “It’s crucial never to feel as though you’ve already reached your limit and especially to be prepared to work very hard,” Barzagli continued.
“Even the biggest stars are the first to never turn their backs when they need to dig deep and that’s the key to becoming a true champion.
“Looking at Juventus, whoever arrives here need simply look at and take example from the players who’ve been around for some time. That’s what happened to me too when I was new and, even if you’re not used to this kind of workload or pressure, you will adapt because that’s the Bianconeri way.”