Simone Pepe says the countless messages of support received from Juventus fans were crucial in helping him through an injury-plagued 2012/13 campaign.
The winger endured a frustrating season in which he remained on the sidelines for all but 20 minutes after struggling to fully recover from a recurring thigh problem.
And this evening at Juventus Summer Village, the 29-year-old sought to thank all those who wished him well in his rehabilitation.
Speaking to DJ Nana and Cristina Chiabotto, Pepe began: “The fans’ support was fantastic. It’s never easy being out of action for a year. I’d like to thank Juventus supporters, the club and all my team-mates who remained close to me throughout this period.”
Despite being unable to take to the field as Antonio Conte’s side cruised towards the club’s 31st Scudetto triumph, Simone remained alongside his team-mates every step of the way.
“They often made fun of me because I’d arrive at the stadium before them and they’d say: ‘But what have you got to do? A warm-up?’ And I’d reply: “No, if only!’”
One ray of light throughout Pepe’s injury difficulties was the arrival of daughter Rebecca in November 2012.
“Becoming a father is the greatest joy I’ve experienced and something that completely changes your life.”
Returning to football, Simone wrapped up an entertaining meeting with his adoring public by describing his best moment in the black and white stripes of Juventus.
“The first Scudetto in Trieste. I’m not one who easily gets emotional but I was close to tears at the stadium. Then the fans invaded the pitch and I had to run off, meaning I wasn’t able to cry!”