01.12.2016 22:00 - in: Sponsors S

      Barzagli and Randstad on the art of winning

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      Andrea Barzagli gives insight into the key ingredients that have helped define a distinguished footballing career during Thursday’s workshop organised by Randstad at Juventus Stadium

      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.”

      Anyone who’s watched Barzagli in action will know that he’s one of the best in the game when it comes to dispossessing forwards in one-on-one situations – a talent that owes itself to plenty of practice and dedication away from matches.

      “I look to be well prepared before each game, I do my homework on the opposition, seeing if they’re right or left-footed, which one they use more when dribbling or shooting. It’s obviously very tough if they do everything with both feet. It’s not easy to train one on one situations and I have to admit that in training it’s rare to come out on top in these scenarios.”

      Arguably the major turning point in Andrea’s career came a few years before joining Juventus, namely his transfer to German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2008, where he would go on to lift the league title after just one season.

      “At that time I also became a father and it was the very first experience abroad for both myself and my wife. Before that, I was a completely different person, an ‘average’ footballer let’s say at Palermo, but after the World Cup in 2006 I felt that I was ready for a big club.

      “In truth, I wasn’t ready just then, but when Wolfsburg came calling a couple of years later and handed me an offer that was excessive for the player I was at the time, it was an easy decision for me to join.

      “There I played under a certain Felix Magath, who completely transformed my mentality. Whenever I complained about something he told me “You know why you’re not training well? It’s because you don’t believe in what you do.” Admittedly, I was giving only 70 or 80% in training and never touched the ball. It was at that point that I changed my approach and I now always give 100%.”

      Hard work that doesn’t come without its sacrifices, especially where family is concerned: “I’m not particularly proud of this, but sometimes when I was at home my wife would tell me that it was as though I wasn’t there because I always had football on my mind.

      “She was right: I remember after the very first league title I won at Juventus I was on holiday and couldn’t manage to think of anything other than wanting to win a second successive Scudetto. I was crazy about it.

      “I don’t know what happened to me at this club, but it’s like that. I’ve had to devote a great deal of time to football, which I might have otherwise been able to spend with the family, and I hope that I can make up for that in the future. Then, everything we have is thanks to football. It’s my job and what’s given me purpose in life.”

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