AC Milan defender Davide Calabria has stressed the importance of mental as well as physical health, lifting the lid on his journey to becoming a first team player.
The young full-back has had a fantastic bounce-back season after a difficult 2019-20 campaign in which he struggled for form, having now become one of the first names on the team sheet for head coach Stefano Pioli.
Calabria gave a long interview to the “Chronicles of the locker room” page on YouTube, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
On Milanello: “I grew up at Milan, so the dream was to get there. It was my goal, it was something beautiful. It was my dream since I was a child to play for Milan.”
On his arrival at Milan: “Brescia and Atalanta had arrived before Milan, but I immediately chose the Rossoneri. I live between Brescia and Bergamo, so Milan was more complicated, but cheering for Milan brought me here.”
On school: “I didn’t like going to school in the Milan tracksuit because I wasn’t interested in being seen. The first years were tough in Milan, staying away from home wasn’t easy, but my parents convinced me to hold on.”
On trips to Milan: “My parents used to bring me from my home to Milan for training. I tried to sleep a bit on the way out and study on the way back.”
On the rebirth of Milan: “We have grown together in recent years. It has been a long and difficult journey, the last few years have been difficult for everyone. There have been several coaches, for us players it has not been easy.”
On Paolo Maldini: “He is the captain of the AC Milan captains, he is the man who best represents Milan. He is not one of many words, but he always spurs you on and his presence alone makes you believe in the project. He has helped the rebirth of Milan.”
On the post-lockdown period: “Both in me and in the team something has changed. The work has always been the same, but we understood that we had to show everyone our qualities. Perhaps what happened has united us even more. It was an important turning point and this has brought positive results.”
On the pressure: “At the beginning it was difficult, going from the Primavera to the first team is a giant leap. Then playing at San Siro is not like playing in other stadiums. San Siro transmits incredible things to you as soon as you step on the pitch. last year, I tried to give a damn about everything, I think I deserve to have reached this point.
“Now I like the pressure more, it’s nice to make many people think again who didn’t have positive thoughts about me. I have important goals both with the Milan and with the national team, I am young and I can still give a lot.”
On the mental coach: “In the youth sector he was at our disposal. For me it can be useful, in Italy there are too many predictions about these things. For me it is something that can be useful, in other realities it already exists. Training the mind is important. , perhaps the most important thing. You can train up to 15 hours a day, but if you go out on the pitch and your legs are shaking, that’s not good. Seeing this as a weakness is bull****.”
On his arrival to the first team dressing room: “It was a very tough team, but I felt good right from the start. On the pitch they were tough, but outside they were exceptional guys. There was for example De Jong who I still hear from every now and then.”
On his chemistry with Saelemaekers: “He is a guy who applies himself and who always gives 100%. We got along well right away, both on and off the pitch. In modern football, rhythm is fundamental, so having a player as he is important.”
On empty stadiums: “In football, communication on the pitch is essential. With empty stadiums it is easier to talk and communicate with teammates.”
On what he likes to do in his free time: “I’m a very quiet guy. I’m not a video game lover, I prefer to meet or have a video call with my friends.”
On meeting with the fans: “We are all quite available, it is an aspect that is also part of our work, but at times it is a bit stressful. The important thing for me is education and the way in which they ask you.”
On friends: “I have many friends in the world of football, but I have also remained very close to my childhood friends. We are a very large group of friends, we always feel and see each other when I get home. We still go on holiday together, it’s always nice to be with them.”
On what he eats after the game: “After the games they give us burgers. I also like sushi very much. Then maybe I open a bottle of wine or a beer.”
On team-mates: “Shall I compare with wine? Theo is a sparkling wine on the pitch, while off the pitch I would say Kessie who is one who always makes you laugh. Ibra is a Barolo: the older he gets, the better he is. His levels are incredible. I compare myself to a Brunello di Montalcino, a wine that represents the Italian tradition and therefore I could tell you Gigio and I that we are Italian and we grew up in Milan. Calhanoglu is an Amarone, Hakan is a complete player who gives you a hand in attack and defence, he is very balanced like Amarone.”
On the passion for wine: “Tatarusanu and Kjaer are passionate like me, even Antonio Donnarumma. I would like to meet Lebron James because I see him opening incredible bottles of wine (laughs).”
On the NBA: “I’ve been passionate over the last few years and so I sympathise with the Warriors. I’m a basketball fan, I really like to see him. In the NBA, I’m light years ahead of us, in everything.”
On the national team: “It’s a good group, I know practically everyone. It’s a group that is young with great potential. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to meet the coach yet because he had Covid when I was called up, but I hope to soon have the opportunity to do so.”
On Milan: “We have to go back to the top which is normal for Milan.”