AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has proclaimed that 2020 is his year as he finally feels settled into life as a Rossoneri player.
The Turkey international now has nine goals and nine assists in the league this season so far. He has amassed a goal or an assist in his last five games, something that hasn’t been done by a Rossoneri player since Kaka back in 2008.
Calhanoglu has become a leader of Pioli’s Milan, and in turn an increasingly integral part of the future project.
Journalist Carlo Pellegatti interviewed the 26-year-old exclusively for StarCasinò Sport, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews, beginning with how the team coped during lockdown.
“Our coach and our staff did a great job to train from home, via phone with video calls. Then when we returned to Milanello we trained hard every day, we all did a great job together,” he said.
It was recently confirmed that Stefano Pioli has signed a new two-year deal which will see him remain as head coach until 2022, and Calhanoglu had high praise for the man that has got the best out of him.
“A very important person for me and for the team, he is a coach who listens, wants to know what the players think. I play in my role, in the role I prefer,” he continued.
“We are all happy that Milan has renewed, also it is not easy for him, there were many voices but he is a great professional, he only thought of the team to bring it as high as possible, we also played for him.
“I have great confidence because they believe in my qualities and I show them on the field, so we do well all together. I am not afraid, I have a lot of trust, but there are many other leaders like Zlatan.”
On his free-kick goal against Atalanta: “I saw Beckham’s video. It is a goal that remains, eleven years after that of Beckham. It will certainly remain in my career, it is a beautiful thing.”
On his most important goal: “The one against Torino, when I started on the bench, then I came on, I scored two goals and we won.”
On Ibrahimovic: “He is a great player and a great person. He has great personality, he arrived here with great passion, I hope he will stay in the next season too, it is very important for us.”
🇹🇷 @hakanc10 since the restart…
• 11 appearances
• 757 minutes
• 6 goals
• 8 assists
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) July 30, 2020
On Donnarumma: “He is also a great player, he has a great personality, he is a good boy. I really like playing with Gigio, he is young but he has a nice personality, I am very happy for him too. He has already played 200 games so young , congratulations to him.”
On previous years with the Rossoneri: “The first year I arrived in Milan and the previous six months I hadn’t played, it was very difficult for me to come back physically. I had to learn the Italian language and football which is very different from the Bundesliga.
“The second year I improved a bit with Rino, I learned even more the language. The third year is my year, I have great confidence.”
On those differences between Serie A and the Bundesliga, he elaborated: “I like playing in Serie A, there are many quality players, many strong teams. In the Bundesliga there is Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Leverkusen. Here there are many strong teams, this is the difference.”
On his boyhood idol: “I have always loved Ronaldinho, his tricks, his technique…”
On his favourite non-Milan player in Italy: “I like Dybala very much.”
On Italy: “In Italy I like people, it is very similar to that of Turkey. I like food, I really like Milanese risotto.”
On what he does in his spare time: “I like playing with my baby, I have time for her every day. When I finish training with Milan I go home and do training with her.”
He ended by discussing his ambitions for the future.
“My dream is to arrive in the Champions League, it must always be our goal. Now we are in the Europa League, I hope to be able to reach the Champions League with AC Milan, I miss it very much. Then I dream of always feeling well physically.”