Calafiori: “Basel wasn’t my choice but I made a turning point there. Now I dream of the European Championship”

Live TMW

1.15pm – Will be Riccardo Calafiori the protagonist of the press conferenceItaly on the third day of the rally in Coverciano. The Bologna defender, protagonist of an extraordinary championship which culminated in qualification for the next Champions League, was included by Spalletti in the list of 29 pre-called up for Euro 2024, his first call-up to the senior national team. The press conference is scheduled to start at 2.15pm.

2.15pm – The press conference begins.

A year ago you were going to Basel, today you are here. What happened?
“Many things have happened, there would be so many things to list. But the biggest improvement was the one made from a mental point of view, I reasoned as if nothing had changed from Basel to Serie A, even though the Italian one is a much more competitive. I worked very hard.”

What did Basel give you? Similarities between Italy and Bologna?
“Basel wasn’t really my choice, I was almost forced because it was the only team left and I was forced to go there. But from the first day I changed my mind, there I found that continuity that I’ve always lacked while playing thirty games. Yes, there is something similar with Thiago: in this Italy it is not so important who occupies certain spaces, but that they are occupied in the right way and at the right time.”

You are a very flexible player, is it also useful to you in the national team? What did Bologna give you from an emotional point of view?
“Yes, there are similarities between the two approaches, the need for football now is to go in this direction, these movements are sought so as not to give points of reference. In Bologna I can only say thank you, from day one we have lived a beautiful atmosphere, the last match against Juventus was incredible and I didn’t expect so many people when we toured the city on the bus, also because it was a Champions League qualification, not a trophy.”

Could you have done the same route without going to Basel?
“A series of things happened and then it went like this… I don’t point the finger at anyone. At the beginning I even played games with Mourinho, then I went to Genoa and it went badly. In the meantime in Rome the prices of other players, the possibility of Basel arose and I went there.”

You spoke in the past tense about the party in Bologna. Is it because you’re going away?
“I spoke in the past tense because the celebrations are over. I’m not thinking about the future now: we’re in the national team, I’d like to enjoy this first call-up, I’ll do my best to go to the European Championship. I’d like to concentrate on this.”

What kind of summer will this be for you? What would you like to bring from Bologna to this national team?
“I am very happy with everything that is happening, it is an enormous satisfaction to be here, a dream come true. From Bologna I would bring the serenity, the tranquility, the fun that is fundamental to doing this job.”

TMW – We talk a lot about how fundamental Motta was to your improvements, but what has changed in you to get to this level? Do you have a role model?
“I have improved so much from a mental point of view, this aspect is so important in a footballer, it must be trained at least as much as the physical one. I have always had a good personality with the ball, but with Motta I really exaggerated. He always asked me to play ball and chain, without fear of making mistakes even if I made some mistakes, it wasn’t a problem for him. I try to steal a bit from everyone, but here is Bastoni who is devastating, I try to take something from he”.

Does it change to play central or full back?
“Everything changes from full-back to central, the vision of the ball and also the space to occupy. For the rest, with three or four it doesn’t change much.”

What effect does being at the center of an international auction have on you?
“The secret is the one I’ve used all season, that is, don’t change anything compared to the approach I’ve had since Basel, I’m still the same player.”

Did you think it might end your career after the injury? Would you like to return to Roma?
“Six years have passed since the injury, but my reaction has always been to get back on the pitch, I never thought I would stop. I don’t respond to the transfer market: I have a wonderful relationship with my former teammates, I grew up there and I’m It was very good, I can say that.”

There are many players with little experience in the national team
“The team that won the European Championship has changed a lot and I think this can be a strong point, the innocence of being young and not thinking too much I think can be a strong point.”

Do you feel central in this national team even if you haven’t made your debut yet?
“Knowing how to play two roles, I think the flexibility is a point in my favor. Then I would like to have your certainty about going to the European Championship: I’m not so sure, but I train every day for this.”

Where did you see the final of the last European Championship?
“I have wonderful memories of that European Championship. I was at home with my family, with friends, then I went out to the streets to celebrate. At that moment, I didn’t expect at all to find myself here in the next European Championship.”

How much did Raiola help you in your most difficult moment?
“It was fundamental. I only met with him a few times, but when we needed help he was always the first. He was the first to advise me on the operation in the United States, it wasn’t an easy choice but I listened to him and eventually In the end it went well. It was fundamental.”

One thing that Motta and Spalletti have in common?
“They’re both meticulous. They always try to improve you, they don’t accept any mistakes.”

Are you more of a goalscorer constructor or do you want to become a more aggressive center back?
“I have many strengths but just as many things that I need to improve. I think it’s difficult to manage to mark a striker like Chiellini, since I was born I believe he has been the absolute number one. I have a lot to learn from him, but I also need to improve in phase of possession”.

How do you like the atmosphere around this group?
“You feel there is something special, I know many of them and I am getting to know many of them now. We are united.”

Does the word free mean anything to you? Scirea or Baresi…
“As names yes, but I haven’t seen them play. But football is very different, you can’t compare the two things.”

2.40pm – Press conference concluded.