Laura Giuliani recently did an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport shortly before Milan’s Champions League match against FC Zürich.
Laura spoke to the paper about her decisions to join Milan, and what she hopes to accomplish in the future. She also is thoughtful, reads a lot, and is quite humble. In her words, she is not an ‘exceptional talent’ but she does consistently work on her flaws.
Laura, why did you decide to leave Juventus and join Milan?
“It was time for a change. I always think about improving myself, and the affection for Juventus remains, and everything we have done together for women’s football is still there, and we’ve done a lot in four years.
But I’m used to looking ahead and changing the way I work helps.
I want to add some pieces, and leaving your comfort zone also helps you grow as a person.”
Olivier Giroud introduced himself at Milan and said: No pain no gain, and without work, there are no results. At Milanello there is also a motivational speaker: Zlatan Ibrahimović. Have you met him?
“I haven’t had direct contact with him yet but his gigantic personality impresses me. It’s ironic, but he believes in what he says. His strong personality leads him to always give his all, without sacrificing himself in the process. And this is what led him to be where he is right now, even at the age of forty.”
Is there an equivalent to such a character in women’s football? Maybe Megan Rapinoe…
“In terms of a strong personality, and not being afraid of anyone’s judgment of her. I think she is the one that comes closest to Ibra.”
You had offers from abroad before you accepted Milan’s proposal. Did you even think about the other offers before doing so?
“I did indeed have other offers, but I have never had second thoughts [about my decisions]. Milan’s project is intriguing, as it sees me at the center of it and I completely agree with what they proposed to me. We have many goals in the future and also with the national team, between the Euros and World Cup qualification. But in the present, it is Milan who can help me make a qualitative leap. I have already played in the Bundesliga for five years. I don’t feel the need to go abroad now, as it is an experience that I have already had. My decision to stay revolved around training for goalkeepers and Italy is at the top [in terms of training]. I don’t think I would find the same methodologies elsewhere.”
What projects do you have with Milan?
“I am 28-years-old, and my career as a goalkeeper is a long one, but I honestly like the idea of being prepared. And the more roads you keep open, the calmer you will be because reinventing yourself after living as an athlete is not easy.
“What is in my future? I am passionate about sports psychology, and I am studying and I am trying to think about what to do to challenge myself every day. I do not know if I will still be close to the field tomorrow or very far away with everything in the past, or if I will have to open a bar and be ready to become a bartender.”
You also worked in a bakery…
“I believe that work helps us keep in touch with reality. Sometimes players are closed off in a bubble, which also applies to women’s football, especially with the arrival of the big clubs: we have a brand to carry around and the club will provide you with so much that sometimes you are inclined to lock yourself up in this bubble.
“I belong to another generation, as I grew up far away from the field, and I went to school and played football in the evening, and now it’s different for girls. But I want to stay grounded to my roots.”
Negli occhi di Laura Giuliani il valore storico di questa Italia.
Decisiva tra i pali, fatica a trattenere le lacrime quando le viene ricordato il passato in Germania: alle 4 del mattino a fare il pane per mantenersi e giocare.
I loro sacrifici, la nostra stima.#RagazzeMondiali pic.twitter.com/rG6k4lSNll
— Lia Capizzi (@LiaCapizzi) June 25, 2019
Speaking of bubbles, how did you experience the lockdown?
“I fared well, despite all of the difficulties and everyone’s pain, the silence that was only broken by ambulance sirens, and with the uncertainty. The life of an athlete was upended, like everyone else’s, but I gave myself goals, as I wanted to find a way to make use of this time [in lockdown]. And I made a routine that focused on nutrition and other things.
“I also continued my studies to finish university, I became passionate about psychology. I also changed the way I view things: do your best today because tomorrow you do not know what will happen. Add a piece to your life every single day. This is also why I wanted to change teams.”
Do you still write?
“Quite a lot.”
But unlike her other colleagues, she hasn’t written a book.
“In the future, I will tell my children my story, which has not been completed. Laura is not yet a whole person, and I say this in a general sense, as I do not see myself solely as a footballer.”
What books are you reading?
“Antifragile basketball (by Luca Sighinolfi), as I said that I became passionate about psychology. And I have some Phil Jackson books that I plan to read. I like Gramellini and I am dedicating myself again to the classics like Pirandello. And then there’s Freud, but in moderation.”
What is it like to be trained by a man?
“The gender of the coach makes no difference. What is important is the goal [the team has], the sporting principles they give you, and how they convey them.”
An adjective for Ganz?
An adjective for Laura?
A few weeks ago at Milanello, you trained with the men. Did you have fun?
“It was great, as we found a lot of accessibility [through this exercise]. The hours have flown by and I think it’s something to consider doing again: holding sessions like this means being part of the same family, and the team’s values are also conveyed in this way. Getting up close with the men and getting to know some very proficient players was exciting.”
She has met Mike Maignan at Milanello, who, like her, is beginning their first season at Milan. From the perspective of a colleague, do you think it will be difficult for him to match Donnarumma’s legacy?
“They are different goalkeepers but Maignan doesn’t have to prove anything. The way he played last season speaks for itself, as he is young and he likes to work with a smile on his face. Work, work, work: I find myself with a similar philosophy. I have never been an exceptional talent, but I have managed to close several gaps.”
The Champions League has begun, and the first obstacle is FC Zürich. What are Milan’s goals for the season?
“To continue the work that has been done during the previous season. The team finished second in the league, played in the final of the Coppa Italia, and secured a place in the following season’s Champions League. Bringing home a trophy would be most welcome, but the important thing is to keep progressing. In the Champions League, we have a complicated group, and let’s think about the first game with Zürich. We need to get to know each other better, but I think the team can do really well once we have been tested.”
Did the wave of enthusiasm after the Women’s World Cup in France help [women’s football in Italy] or did you expect a greater growth of the women’s movement?
“For three years now, the results have been gradual but on the rise, and the league is developing thanks to the big clubs that have entered the fray. The public has become passionate [about the women’s teams] and the visibility for them has grown. We must not lose this enthusiasm. UEFA and FIFA have supported women’s football and the visibility of the 2019 Women’s World Cup has not been lost. We must continue along the same course, without skipping the necessary steps.”
What could be the next goal for the national team?
“As you have understood, I like to think on a step-by-step basis. We have to get to the European Championship serenely, then we’ll see. With consistent work, the results will come.”
Laura, would you advise girls to play football?
“It is a complete sport, and in terms of coordination, it is perfect. Before I started to play football I swam, and without football, I probably would have played tennis. But football is beautiful and very important. It is for everyone.”