The returning Simone Pepe paid tribute to his Bianconeri team-mates following tonight’s emphatic 6-1 Coppa Italia triumph over Hellas Verona in Turin.
The winger was instrumental throughout as a rampant Juventus side set up a quarter-final date against Parma with the club looking to embark on a cup run in a competition they have not won for 20 years.
Speaking to reporters in the mixed zone in the aftermath of this evening’s encounter, he began: “When you play in a team as strong as this, especially for someone who hasn’t featured in a while, you’re able to perform thanks to your team-mates.
“Pirlo, Tevez and some of the other big names were missing, but we were able to win all the same. It shows that we’re blessed with a great group.”
Having battled his injury demons over the past few seasons, the 31-year-old was able to come through 90 minutes unscathed as he made his first start since Juventus wrapped up their first of three consecutive league titles against Cagliari back in May 2012.
And Pepe – who was applauded when his name was read out over the tannoy prior to kick-off – is now looking to push himself into the manager’s reckoning with the games due to come thick and fast in the second half of the season.
“I’ve had a hellish two-and-a-half years but thanks to my family, team-mates and my character, I’ve managed to keep smiling and remain positive. I’ve put my injury problems behind me and now it’s time to look forward.
“I’ll play anywhere, and have already featured as a full-back and inside midfielder. I’ve been working consistently for five months and am ready an willing to play wherever I’m needed. The boss said he had noted my progress in recent weeks and handed me the opportunity to be involved tonight.”