Gianluigi Donnarumma has stressed the importance of the fans and revealed some personal targets amid a difficult moment for him at AC Milan.
Donnarumma’s contract with Milan will expire in the summer and there has been a lot of talk about a renewal in the papers. A delegation of Rossoneri ultras even confronted the goalkeeper at Milanello before Saturday’s game against Benevento, a sign of just how tense things have got.
It was something that the club really didn’t appreciate and this was made clear by technical director Paolo Maldini in an interview with ANSA. With four crucial cup finals to go, it is important that the 22-year-old goalkeeper remains focused.
Donnarumma spoke about himself on the Twitch channel of Justees and discussed a number of different topics, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews.
What influenced you the most growing up? “My uncle who played football was a goalkeeper. He influenced me, I grew up with his legend, it was he who gave me this desire to be a goalkeeper. I grew up with the dream of becoming the best, we hope to become one day.”
Biggest lesson learned from a coach? “All the coaches I’ve had have taught me something, from the very young to the first team. In addition to the field, what taught me the most is life outside, the greatest teaching is that of work, to arrive first in the field, to do prevention.”
The biggest advantage of playing at home? “The fans help you in times of difficulty, you also need to be able to bear criticism even when things are not going well. Surely they give you something more, unfortunately they haven’t been there lately but when they are they give you a lot. In moments of difficulty they can give you that adrenaline to push and to bring home the result. In this period they are not there and we are waiting for them.”
The best memory you have as a child? “Definitely when I started playing, my first training. My uncle who unfortunately is no longer here came to pick me up at home, my brother was there who was going to train and I went too. My brother did the exercises and I threw myself too, from that day it all started.”
The best game you’ve ever watched in your life? “The 2006 World Cup, the final.”
Match day or night? “Night”
Would you like to be the fastest or the most accurate in the world? “The most accurate.”
Do you have a ritual before each game? “I have one that I can’t say, I don’t know if it’s ever seen on the pitch but before the game I touch the goalposts and the crossbar and make the sign of the cross. The other is personal.”
Is there a moment when you realised you could become a professional footballer? “When I first left for Milan. I had a hard time thinking of having to leave home, when I left and saw my parents feel bad I thought that it would all start from there, that I would become a Serie A goalkeeper.”
Did you have a plan B? “Maybe the carpenter like my father. I didn’t have a plan B, sometimes I went to help him but I only had a plan A (laughs).”
Do you like other sports besides football? “I like tennis. I have practiced it a few times and I loved it.”
Do you like watching movies or listening to music? “I leave the field, I go home. I really enjoy playing with my friends. I’m a videogame type rather than a TV series type.”
Your debut with the national team, how did you feel? “I didn’t expect it, I was there and Buffon was there. The day before the coach told me that we would have a time each, I was on the moon. Then when I entered the field I forget everything. But after that it was an incredible emotion. You have to let pressure and emotion out. Even when you make a mistake in the game you have to be good at detaching immediately otherwise you won’t get out of it anymore.”
A player who has meant so much to you? A mentor? “I had Abbiati in my first period at Milan, he was very important. He helped me grow, he made me feel important and calm when I had the opportunity to play in Serie A. It was fundamental in my path. Be a mentor in the future? I haven’t thought about it yet, I’m 22 (laughs).”
Do you have friends who are opponents? “I am a very good friend of Insigne, but let’s say that I also had other friends with whom I played against. For example Pepe Reina. The one with whom I have bonded a lot is Insigne, we have bonded a lot and we have fun in the national team. On the pitch we are opponents, after the match we are friends.”
Do you have a dream as a footballer? “Winning as many trophies as possible but above all winning the World Cup. I think it is the dream of all children, it would be the best.”
If you had to give advice to a young person? “I’d tell him first of all to have fun. Humility, sacrifice, work always pays off. Having fun I would put it first, without fun you go nowhere. It starts with fun and then becomes a job.”