Roma captain Daniele De Rossi sat down this week for a long interview with DAZN, broadcasters in Italy of this weekend's Serie A game against Juventus in Turin.
The match at the Allianz Stadium gets underway at 20:30 local time.
De Rossi, who is currently recovering from an injury that he describes as perhaps "the most serious of my career", spoke at length on a number of subjects - from Roma's travails in the league this season to his own immediate and long-term future in the game.
Read some of what he had to say below.
MENTALITY IN FOOTBALL
“The top sides need great players and also great men, and often the great players are also great men. People who are thinking from morning to evening about how the game will go on Sunday – it’s this that perhaps I learned most from my rivals at Juventus, who for a long time were also my teammates for Italy. In some ways I feel very similar to them. Now I’m a bit older I feel like I have that same sort of mentality.
"Of course our families and our children are the most important thing but, in terms of hours spent in an average day, football is the main focus of my life because it is my job: it’s the thing that brings me joy, when I do well alongside my teammates. In football nowadays you can’t afford to give less than you best.
"But to give your best out on the field I’m not sure if – beyond arriving at the pitch in the right frame of mind, being physically in top condition, having eaten well and slept right – I’m not sure what it adds to be Romanista, to be one of the fans, to kiss the shirt when you score. Yes, it’s something extra for me, it makes me happy and the fans happy and it’s something I could never change anyway because it is my life – it’s who I am and always will be. But I don’t think it makes me a better player on the pitch.”
“Perhaps we can find some luck through our bad luck. We have had to deal with a lot of pressure recently, because of our performances and our situation in the league, and then the pressure of facing Juventus is only something on top of that. We are in a tough spell, because we know we are not doing as well as we know we need to – and we know that all of us, not just the coach, are under scrutiny. So we all really want to put in a great performance in Turin, more for us than because it is a big, important game.
"But beyond all that we realise that the pressure is on because of the opponent as much as our situation – an opponent that is as good as any side around.”
“The players that have come in are strong, you cannot say they are weaker than those that left in the summer. The mistake perhaps we made, around the club and as players too, is that we talked too much about the guys that left in the summer – and perhaps this weighed heavily on the shoulders of those who came in to replace them. That wasn’t really fair.
"We are sorry about those that aren’t still here now, but we should have handled it with a bit of a lighter touch. There’s the risk that we put too much pressure on the new players. Those guys are now starting to do well after a difficult start, which can happen when you have new teammates and are in a new league. In terms of individuals, for those that haven’t been here that long I think they are growing and integrating all the time.”
“There are many here, it’s a young team. At times we think of those born in 1999/2000, but we have Lorenzo Pellegrini, born in 1996, who is a great player and still very young. Cristante is improving in each match and is a very strong player. Zaniolo has come in and shown his ability, although even in July we could see that he had talent.
"I like Ante Coric a lot, too, the way he plays. I can’t say whether any player is right for Roma, whether one day they will go to another big club or perhaps they will ultimately have to go backwards a bit – but I think a lot of all of them. It’s difficult, because in this sort of season, when things are not going well overall, it can be hard for individual players to push on and emerge as perhaps they otherwise could.
"If we consider the talent, they are all very strong players. I haven’t even mentioned Kluivert and Under, who are exceptional attackers. Also Schick is really, really strong – but like others he is perhaps being affected by the troubles of the squad as a whole.”
HIS CURRENT INJURY
“It’s perhaps the most serious and delicate injury I have had in my career. I have never been out this long. It’s a pretty serious lesion to the cartilage. It needs to be monitored carefully, I can’t be careless with it, at 35 years old if I was to damage it again it could be a lot more serious than if I was perhaps a bit younger.
"I’ve been running on the pitch for a while now, but I’m still a bit behind where I want to be. Being in the squad on Sunday was different, it was about the team, a collective matter. Luckily it went well, but on the pitch there’s a lot of work still to do for me.”
HIS FIRST SERIE A GOAL
“I realise I am quite old since I shiver when I re-watch it, I get emotional when I see the President and Mrs. Maria Sensi’s celebrations, especially as she died recently. It’s a day I remember more than other, more recent ones. I came back to Trigoria to get my car after the match, and I found out I was on one of the major Italian TV shows that evening. I felt important, famous, that I had almost reached what I had always been working for.
"It was a great day, that first time leaves an indelible mark that stays with you forever in your head. Those emotions... they make you feel proud. The first goal is like a positive cold shower, that changes you forever.”
FACING PORTO IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
“The beginning of a new chapter, a second chance for me, because that was a dark moment in my career. Two years ago it went badly; we drew the first match when we should have won, then we were losing at home in the second match and I got sent off. So it has been a burden I’ve felt ever since.
"Now they are our last-16 opponents, and we are facing them to be among the best eight sides in Europe once again. It’s a big chance for Roma to achieve something again, especially given this current season so far.”
HIS ROMA CAREER
“When I was young I would have signed anything you wanted in order to play just half the games I have managed in Serie A, it is a huge privilege for me. I have done something I love, in the city I love, for the team I love, among fans I have always loved. I can see the end is approaching, especially during this period being injured and being away from the squad, and that upsets me a bit. I know that it will hurt when I have to retire from this job.
"It was at a book launch that I said that my only regret was that I had only one career to give to Roma – that I could not continue playing for the club forever. It may be six months, a year, two years… but either way everyone’s career ends eventually. So it’s not a regret really - it’s life, it’s being human. But it’s sad to think the day is coming when I won’t lace up my boots and walk out onto the pitch with the shirt on… that will definitely be an emotional day.”
THE MEDIA, THE FUTURE
“Times have changed, I have some difficulty adjusting to the new generation – especially with social media and everything else. Maybe sometimes I have given the wrong impression, though. The new generations keep up with the times, as they should, and are very social now - ready to interact with the media and the cameras. This is something that has always made me a bit tense though.
"I’m always a bit reluctant in speaking and being filmed, regardless of who the interviewer is. I’ve changed a bit in this: before I used to be amazed by all the hype, by the new ‘circus’ I was discovering and becoming a part of. Part of me has this dream of being a coach but, when I think of all the challenges that will come with that, the one thing that stands out is the prospect of doing a hundred interviews every week. That makes me nervous. My Dad tells me not to do it, it’s a headache [laughs].
“He has always had that desire to work with the young players. I think that in Italy he is the best at that there is, partly because he has never had any desire to be a new Guardiola, Sacchi, Mourinho. He always knew what his best role was. But I don’t think I could train the kids, I just don’t have the patience. But I can learn so much from him, especially in the way he carries himself both in the dressing room and in front of the media.
"I don’t know if I have the ability, but I might give coaching a go. I will study for my licences. Right now my idea is definitely to spend the year after I retire travelling around, taking advantage of the people I have met in football to go and learn from them. I’ve met so many interesting people – coaches, ex-teammates – and I would love to go around and spy on them, steal a bit from their approach and learn from their knowledge. To have a dream means to have a goal, a motivation, a reason to get up in the morning. This is why I do this job, and luckily it doesn’t have to end when I stop playing.”