Acerbi: “We will have a great end to this season…”
Only one season, still unfinished, was enough to restore a certainty to this Lazio: in defense, Acerbi commands. The former Sassuolo man has conquered an entire people, to the sound of over the top performances. No regrets for those who were there before, so much joy for those who are there now. Consistent, professional, monolithic and unshakable: a captain without an armband. The biancoceleste defender told I Signori della Serie A live on Sky Sport, talking about moments of his career and offering an overview of the man and the footballer he is now.
THE MAN – “In this moment of my life I am a balanced man who knows what he wants, he knows he wants to play football and do well. As a player I always try to want more, to always give my best on and off the field. I want to go back home satisfied, there are highs and lows: the important thing is to always walk with your head held high. Until you reach your goals, you always have the desire to do the best you can “.
GROWING UP IN MILAN – “I was a goalkeeper, then as a striker I scored many goals. The coach moved me back, I also played fullback. With my father I have a beautiful and ugly bond, with him it has always been a challenge. He used to tell me to work hard, and then I took it as a challenge. This was an important stimulus, but I just have to thank him. My debut in Serie A was positive, it was a Chievo – Catania, it was exciting. When I was young I wanted to go to Milan, I saw the images of San Siro and I told myself that it was my stadium. I had reached the peak, when I arrived at Milan I wore the number 13. When I reached that level I relaxed. I was busy but it was as if I had stopped. The Champions League debut was quiet, until the Malaga goal I had also done well but we lost 1 to 0. I was sorry, but it happens. Ambrosini, the president, and the others gave a lot“.
ILLNESS AND SASSUOLO – “I was at Sassuolo, they call me for a checkup. I knew I had a lump in the testicle, the word tumor is scary but they assured me that after the operation I would come back to play. My way of thinking and acting has certainly changed. In my head, every day, I always wanted to run. As the disease grows as a man, many see me as a better person. Many ask me for advice. It was my chance, we were playing in the championship. There was no illness that could keep me away from football, I came back and rolled up my sleeves. I already knew I could do well, I really wanted to play and live for football. Sassuolo is a great club, few fans but good. When things go wrong there is no great pressure. You have to find the right stimuli on your own. I am convinced that when you play football you must always give your best. With Milan we have always scored many goals, but Di Francesco was good and knew how to make the team play. Berardi could do more, because he is a great talent. With Sassuolo I did everything, there was my illness, I came back and we did well“.
ATTACKERS – “Quagliarella is devastating, he is strong at shooting in many ways. This year he is doing great things. Even Piatek is going well, replacing Higuain was not easy, in Europe there are few like the Argentine. It is never easy to mark a striker who takes two touches and scores goals, like the Pole. Ronaldo is decisive, a great champion, he is aware of his value and is a super professional. At 34 he is like a boy, he cares like never before and he is a model for everyone. Immobile is a great striker, nothing can be said about him. He is great, last year he scored more than 40 goals. Only Ronaldo and Messi can do that. Ciro is a great friend and companion, if you don’t score, you will score in the next one: it will come”.
THE RECORD – “I didn’t care, I wanted to play. The expulsion with Napoli has affected that goal, but I was never downcast. The body has more energy than you think. And you have to live a healthy life “.
NATIONAL TEAM – “My debut came immediately after the illness, in 2014. I played two games with Sassuolo and then Conte called me. His words made me proud. He told me: ‘I won’t call you for what you’ve had, but because you deserve it’. He is one who focuses on meritocracy, it was important for me. We have quality young players whom Mancini calls, but they all have to keep their feet on the ground. They must grow in the right way without getting in their heads that they are already great champions. The qualities are there, Mancini gives many tips and their freshness will be useful again. The coach has shown that he can do well, if the results are even better, I must always do what I can, give my best. If Mancini calls me, well, I have to deserve it, I’ll be ready. I respect his decisions“.
LAZIO – “I could no longer stay at Sassuolo, I felt I had to leave because my time had ended. Lazio called, it’s an important club with exceptional fans: I couldn’t say no. Inzaghi wanted me strongly and I had promised that I would come. Replacing de Vrij was not easy, but I knew I could do my best here too. It’s up to you, you must feel like it. My companions have great quality, for me they are the strongest of all. They know how to play football, they have quality in their play, they know how to send you on goal. Milinkovic, Luis Alberto, Correa, Immobile, there are many. But I stress again, they are qualities of great team, from a top club. We have more or less positive moments, sometimes we miss that opportunity to raise the bar and it is a pity because we have enormous strength. But it’s nice to be here, because you really play football. This team belongs in the Champions League, we have shown it. We need to think positive and give something more, even if you are tired and have played a lot. Now is the decisive moment, we have the chance to win the Coppa Italia. You win with your head, because the forces must be managed. We will make a great season finale, I’m sure of it.
DERBY AND TIFOSI – “Winning the derby is worth double, seeing the fans happy fills you with pride. Seeing the joy in their eyes is fantastic. These fans deserve everything, it’s a demanding city but it’s very close to us. My strength it’s about being down to earth, being humble and working hard. In my experience I try to convey human as well as football values, you don’t need to have a captain’s armband, even those who are on the sidelines must be a leader. I have to be an example, otherwise I disrespect the coach, the teammates and the club. I don’t expect anything from football, but a lot from myself. After the illness I don’t want remorse or regret. I would like to be remembered as a man, not as a footballer, the player ends, the man remains”.
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