Here's what Nicolo Zaniolo had to say when he faced the assembled media at Trigoria on Wednesday afternoon...
Roma face HJK Helsinki in the Europa League on Thursday night (kick-off: 21:00 CEST).
Can you explain why you were so determined to be back as soon as possible?
“Because it’s never nice to be on the sidelines. I felt like the shoulder injury was just really unfair; because you can train, you can do everything possible to be in the best shape, but you can’t do anything about it if you fall. I tried to do the best I could with my recovery.
“The coach asked me to do what I could and so for the team, for Roma and for the coach, I felt I could go to Empoli and I was ready to go in if necessary.”
It was a pretty intensive summer for you: a lot of transfer rumours, a good training camp … and then the coach underlining your importance to the team. Have things changed for you at Roma? Are you ready for a long stay at Roma?
“It wasn’t really a strange summer for me, not from my perspective, because by now I’m pretty used to hearing every year about how I need to leave here and go there … but then every time I always stay here. It’s more of a drama that you guys create amongst yourself, amongst the media, then things I really think about.
“In terms of the training work before we started again at Trigoria, that’s what I always try to do – because with the injuries that I’ve had I always want to do everything I can to make sure I’m in shape and not behind in any way.
“In terms of my contract, we still have a year and a half to talk about that. Now is not the right oment, because tomorrow we face Helsinki and then on Sunday there is Atalanta. I am focused 100% on the games and everything outside that I try to ignore.”
Would you like to stay at Roma for a long time?
“Roma is my priority. The club has given me a lot, it’s given me everything and I can only be thankful for that. I play for Roma and we hope to win more things.”
In Portugal we saw you speaking with Lorenzo Pellegrini on the pitch. Can you tell us a bit about what you discussed and if that changed something for you. And have you set a goal target for yourself this season?
“I talk a lot with Lorenzo; in Portugal those photos were published but I have a really good relationship with him and all the rest of the squad. We are a family, we are a close-knit group and the things we discuss amongst ourselves should remain that way.
“My personal targets? I want to help the team as much as possible, I want to stay fit, I want to have fun and enjoy myself alongside my teammates like we did at the end of last season.”
After the injuries and all the physio, did it feel to you a bit like you had to get used to a completely new body? And if so, what percentage Zaniolo do you feel?
"As I’ve said in previous interviews, the injuries helped me mature a lot as a person, as a man and as an athlete. I feel like I’m a Zaniolo that’s more grown up and mature. From a personal perspective I feel 100% the same, as I did before. Tomorrow we have a game and we need to win it.”
Until last summer you usually played on the right. Now, with the arrival of Paulo Dybala, you have moved more to the other side. What has changed for you?
“It’s not like a lot has changed, because the responsibilities I have are more or less the same as last season. This year I am asked to attack the spaces in behind a bit more to make sure the team can stretch the opposition. Having quality players in between the lines, like Pellegrini and Dybala, we can hurt the opposition.”
The coach had some big things to say about you in Empoli and has often called for you to stay at Roma for a long time. How much has the coach helped you grow?
“I have to thank the coach because last year, when perhaps things weren’t going great for me in some ways, he was always there to offer me a hand and give me another chance out on the pitch.
“He is helping me grow, both personally and as a player. He is a great coach and also a great person. I am really pleased to have him as my coach.”
This is your fifth season at Roma. In that time, has the club reached the level of your ambition? What do you dream of achieving?
“Each season we add an extra feather to the bow. We are becoming more of a team. This season we are a strong side and we can have our say in all the competitions we are playing in.
“Personally speaking, every player has his goals and the dream of winning trophies. Luckily I have won here and to do that is an incredible thing. And I would like to win a lot more here at Roma.”
You played against Finland at international youth level. What do you remember about that?
“I have a great memory of Finland, because we played a really good European Under-19 Championship. I remember that there were almost 24 hours of sunlight at the time and I wasn’t able to sleep.
“But it was a great group, with some great players – many of whom are now in Serie A. I only have great memories of Finland.”