Calabria discusses what Milan means to him, journey to captaincy and his dreams

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan defender Davide Calabria has given a long interview in which he spoke about what the club means to him, his journey to being a starter and some of the key figures he has worked with.

Playing for Milan is something that means a lot to everyone that puts on the red and black shirt, but it might be fair to say that Calabria feels it more than most given that he is a boyhood fan of the club.

Not only that, but he came through the various sectors of the academy and then established himself in the first team, even taking over the captaincy from Alessio Romagnoli when he left.

Calabria spoke during an interview with Radio Serie A about a number of different topics from his upbringing to what the future holds, and his comments were relayed by MilanNews.

What does Milan mean to you, as a fan and captain?

“Everything, it’s been my life. I grew up in a Milan-supporting family and I went to the stadium before wearing a shirt. It’s been my growth path since I was eleven. I’ve been a Milan fan since before, my uncle tried with Juve but it didn’t work.

“My first time at San Siro I was six years old and it was the Champions League. It was Ancelotti’s Milan, an incredible team: among the greatest in the history of football.”

Is it true you started out as a midfielder?

“I grew up in the village team and started playing at the age of five with friends. I played everywhere, at school and after. I started as a midfielder, at five and then seven. I was better in the middle of the field and I have always liked being in the middle of the field, even today ”

Did you have Milan posters growing up?

“I had a photo of Kakà and some t-shirts, not original because we couldn’t afford them at the time. Kakà was one of the strongest players in history. He was one of the favorite players together with Sheva. What he did for Milan was really incredible.

“The posters help you dream, get inspired. I had many players at Milan who were inspirational, you could choose one with your eyes closed. Seeing your idols reach those levels, they give you something extra to get to where they are today.”

What kind of an upbringing did you have?

“My father was a bricklayer and my mother was an employee and then she opened a bar. Now I’m here to lend a hand. They taught me hard work, facing difficult periods even economically. The spirit of sacrifice, dedication, the fact that they gave me their time.

“My dad was more in the background for work, my mom was the most fundamental for me and followed me most often. I think she sacrificed everything for me and my uncle was also very close, the Juventus one (laughs).

“During middle school my parents avoided accepting offers from Milan, Atalanta and Brescia. We decided to make the leap later. The difficulty was the early morning journey to Brescia in school and then my mother took me to the bus that took me to Vismara. In the first year I struggled a lot but then you start to get used to it.”

Did you have some difficulties as a child?

“Yes, the first few months were quite difficult but I was too young and my parents were close to me. Even during the period during the boarding school, in Spring, I suffered the distance from home at 16.

“I didn’t want to stop but I was trying new solutions to feel better: I was suffering at that time, away from my family. But my parents and friends always supported me. They talked to me and told me that it was what I wanted to do: then they always left me free.

“But it was really my dream: I couldn’t and didn’t actually want to give up. It felt like giving up. Tears? Yes, I’ve always been closed off and immature, crying can help. Instead, I’ve always struggled from this point of view. But I’m also super determined to move forward and I didn’t feel like crying.”

What was your dream?

“My dream was to get to play in Serie A: I think I even had a little letter from somewhere in which I said I dreamed of playing in the Champions League final… without sounding arrogant, I always believed in it.

“This thing led me to leave in the long run compared to other kids who had more talent. Plan B? I had pushed for agricultural school and I’m always passionate about the world of wine. I’m still passionate about it. I knew it was either football or this other road.”

One thing you had to give up?

“This job gives you a lot on an emotional and economic level. Obviously in previous years I gave up living the life of a kid like everyone else, I was limited from this point of view. One thing that weighs on me relatively, having grown up a little more quickly.

“Privileges? We have many of them but very few of us get them. I can consider myself lucky but it’s not a given that everything will go smoothly. Leaving home early, for example, is not so simple. Even for a parent is difficult.”

What did you do with your first paycheck?

“I started with the minimum. I’m almost sure that my mum managed it, definitely a dinner with friends: a trip to my dad’s bar. We had a mini party.”

What was your first trial at Milan like?

“The first audition with a friend of mine. Even just wearing the shirt for that hour was wonderful. My friend was a goalkeeper and there was always a doubt whether I had scored a goal for him or less, they validated it for me.

“They didn’t take him: he was very strong but a bit short. They didn’t take me on the first one either… We chose to postpone it, it wasn’t a given that they would take me back. I did another one later at Vismara and they took me.”

When did you transition to being a defender?

“I was a midfielder in a three-man midfield, I didn’t play much in the first few years: I wasn’t too big physically. At 14 with Mr. Inzaghi who, also out of necessity, moved me to left back and then I remained at right and I didn’t move.

“It also helped me to use my left foot: useful as a growth path. I believe that being more diligent from a tactical point of view is also due to having played more roles at that age.”

Is there anyone to thank at Milan?

“I would say Inzaghi, the one who made me a starter and kept me steady. The switch was with him and then he made me debut in the first team. I would also say Brocchi, because in his method of play he is was very useful on a practical and tactical intelligence level.”

What is it like to be coached by your idols?

“I’ve always been someone who doesn’t hold back. If there are problems, even if you raise your voice, it’s part of the game. It’s a sport where tension and rivalry are created, normal have these moments.

“I’ve always had a wonderful relationship with Inzaghi and at 16 years old with a legend like that it’s also complicated. A big argument that involved me? Yes, I’ve had more than one.

“The first most difficult one was with Montella and I don’t remember the reason, we were very angry and a bit of tension had arisen. I take this opportunity to greet him (laughs). It wasn’t a pleasant moment but I repeat, it happens and it’s part of the game: the important thing is for it to be clarified.”

What was the Scudetto win like?

“It was the highest moment. Getting to win after a period of difficulty was a great journey, especially for me who came from the youth sector. A beautiful year also on a human level, good bonds were created with those players.

“Having the photo here at Milanello was wonderful and I hope to hang more. On a human level there was a super positive vibe, we all had a good time even those who played less which is fundamental.”

What is it like working under Pioli?

“He was very good at coming in during a complicated moment for the team but also for him. This situation united us even more: we started off in difficulty in the first half but having hit rock bottom we had to climb back up tooth and nail.

“He didn’t give up and believed in the work. So it was from the first to the last member of the staff, uniting the group that won.”

What was the moment that sparked the title win?

“The first was two years earlier, when we took a good beating in Bergamo. But I think there was also the derby with Giroud’s brace. But also that match against Spezia, with the goal disallowed.

“There were several moments: even some confrontations here at Milanello which in a season are fundamental for reuniting. It’s normal for moments of tension to happen: but we’re not talking about punches in the face but a discussion that bring wellbeing to the team.”

How do you feel when you wear the armband?

“The armband weighs absolutely a lot, one of the most important in football. It brings you more responsibility from a human point of view, then comes the pitch.

“It’s essential to be able to be a great person and be an example or an inspiration, for children to adults who follow this team and this sport. It gives you a weight but it’s nice to be able to wear.”

Do you ever think about who wore the armband before you?

“I always think about it. I grew up watching these players. Baresi was one of my father’s idols. I played with Paolo Maldini’s sons and knowing him was an honour. I often think about it and It’s a great responsibility.”

What is Paolo Maldini like?

“He taught me patience. I have always seen him at any time always very calm, with the right attitude and the right manners. Facing sports, good and bad moments, with the right maturity.”

Do you see yourself at Milan for life? 

“I don’t think I want to be a part physically after my career, even if it’s still early. For me, this armband and this shirt will always be part of me. I will always represent Milan, this is also a big responsibility.

“As a footballer? Yes, I see myself here, why not? I’ve never asked myself this but I grew up here and I would love to continue being part of this family.”

What did you think about the decision to give Leonardo Bonucci the captaincy as soon as he arrived?

“A choice made at that time by the club. Leo has always behaved well with us, always sincere and a super professional. I also had him as a team-mate for the national team and I can only speak highly of him.

“I understand that people may have different thoughts but from a human point of view he is an exceptional person, in that moment he put in all the effort he could give. They were chosen by other people who were relatively important to us since we just wanted to row on the same side.”

Do you relate to the word ‘bandiera’?

“It’s strange. Having grown up watching so many phenomena… I’m 27 years old and I still don’t consider myself that old even though I’ve been through a lot with this t-shirt. I can say yes, if I stayed here it means that something is there. I can see me with this term.”

Have you ever said ‘no’ to other teams to stay at Milan?

“No, neither I nor the club have had major problems in moving forward. We have always been very open to dialogue. Obviously there were moments in which we reasoned together whether it was appropriate to take different paths or not. But in the end, yes we continued together.”

Who is the best player you played with?

“I trained with Kakà: one of the idols, finding him in training was fantastic. In terms of pure talent, Menez, being his first year in the first team, had impressed me. I’m not talking about my current team-mates, there are many strong ones.”

Leao is among them…

“A laugh, the joy of playing. He has an innate talent and an edge. He must be able to remain calm and then the pitch speaks for him. Even though he may seem to have up-and-down days, then the numbers speak for him.

“If he understands the talent he has, he can become one or the strongest player in the world. He’s a Ballon d’Or player, I don’t see many with his innate physical qualities. If he had Mbappè’s killer instinct, he could be a Ballon d’Or player.”

Can this Milan reach the level of the Milan you followed as a child?

“More complicated than in past years. Different economic situations also come into play. But we have shown that even by not having huge transfer windows we can manage to raise the level year after year.

“It is more complicated than before and we are behind from an economic and of image compared to the Premier League. But nothing is possible, one day we can get there: I’m super confident.”

Second place in the league must be a target…

“What we wanted was to win [the title]. We need to be clear that Inter are having an extraordinary season. We need to be honest with ourselves and with everyone and say ‘well done’ for what they are doing.

“We’re doing great in our season, we have the pace of the Scudetto winning season. The objective was to do the best we can and from a numerical point of view we’re doing the best we can.”

Will Inter win the Scudetto against you in the derby?

“It’s still early, there are games before, but we want to win them all… so it won’t happen.”

What is your relationship like with the national team?

“An interesting question. I think that sometimes injuries occurred close to the national team call-ups, I think that coach Mancini made his choices, it wasn’t my job to judge them, and then they took him to victory of the European Championship.

“Mutual love has never arisen to create a situation of continuous call-up. I do my best here and I’m happy here. If the national team arrives, I’ll be happy.”

Tell us about your Goku tattoo from Dragon Ball…

“My dragon is AC Milan. My wish? To win the Champions League like I said when I was little.”


Tags AC Milan Davide Calabria

1 Comment

  1. It is vital for a club to have players like him who have Red and Black blood.
    A team without an identity is just a collection of people.
    Forza Davide

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