Giorgio Chiellini became the final player of the season to take part in the ‘Formazione Juventus’ project when he met youngsters from the Bianconeri’s Pulcini 2002 side in Vinovo this afternoon.
The popular initiative sees first-team players interviewed by Juventus Channel's Paolo Rossi in front of attentive starlets from the club’s thriving academy setup.
Economics graduate Chiellini, who joined Juventus from Fiorentina back in 2005, began by talking about his personal experiences in balancing the demands of top-flight football with his educational studies.
The 28-year-old said: “It’s never been a problem for me, it was more of a grind when it was something I had to do, today I’ll study quite happily. I struggled a bit in the fifth year of ‘Liceo’, my football career really took off as soon as I gained my diploma.
"Studying is something I find easier when I’m away with the team, or in the matchday build-up to the game itself. I struggle when I’m injured, being away from the pitch creates added tension.”
The defender moved on to discuss the mentality required to make the grade as a professional footballer, singling out his strong family background as a vital factor behind his successful career at the highest level.
“Motivation and desire are two fundamental aspects, even more so than natural talent. Sacrifices help you to develop, regardless of the stage you’re at in your career. Fortunately I was born into a family where sport has always been important and I grew up with its values.
“My first-team experience with Livorno at the age of 16 was crucial for my professional career. I was pretty much a kid when I arrived and then became a man.
“When I made my Serie A debut in Rome, playing against people like Totti, Montella and Cassano, I was catapulted into a completely new world as far as I was concerned and I really burst onto the scene at Juve. Playing under Capello, alongside many top class players, enabled me to improve even further, right up until I established myself on the international scene.”
The next topic on the agenda, the Bianconeri’s resounding renaissance, prompted Chiellini to identify the strong group collective as the reason behind the team’s return to domestic supremacy.
“These successes have been down to the strength of the group, because nobody wins by themselves in football, not even Messi. Last year’s Scudetto was built on anger.
"The defence was the same as the one that finished seventh the year before, made up of myself, Barzagli and Bonucci. In less than two years we’ve become one of Europe’s tightest rearguards. Instead, this year’s Scudetto is down to quality, organisation, but also the desire to retain our title.”
With the youngsters left to reflect on this afternoon’s invaluable advice handed out by the Pisa-born stopper, host Rossi concluded by opening the floor for a quick fire question and answer session.
“My best goal? I scored it for Fiorentina against Parma, a shot from outside the area. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to see it again, it’s not even on YouTube. The best strikers? Ibrahimovic and Eto’o. Why the King Kong celebration? I worked on it with my friends, I wanted something that nobody else did and characterised me, and the Gorilla was the perfect choice.”