Pepe Reina spoke to the press after his mixed performance against Genoa.
Gianluigi Donnarumma forfeited the game against Genoa at Stadio Luigi Ferraris due to a stomach ache and nausea, and so veteran Pepe Reina took the starting spot between the sticks last night.
It turned out to be a night to remember for Reina: he started with a string of good saves, but then was largely at fault for Lasse Schöne’s goal in the 41′ minute.
Milan got back in the game and overturned the result through Theo Hernández (51′) and Franck Kessié (57′ pk). But Reina was the star of the last minutes as he gave away a penalty in the last minute with a questionable foul on Christian Kouamé. Schöne stepped up to take it and send Milan home with a single point, but the Spaniard saved the penalty and gave the Rossoneri their first win.
“What did I think when I was face-to-face with Schöne in the last minute? Good thing I made that save! After my mistake in the first half, I kept my concentration, I stayed in the game mentally and I owe this to experience,” Reina told MilanTV. “I am proud with how the team reacted. We’re a young team and have such a reaction after a bitter defeat to Fiorentina, and after a poor first-half, we never gave up, we wanted to turn it around and in the end, for us it is three massive points.
“What happened in the locker room at the end of the first half? We were always in the game, we knew every detail we could count, we knew that a goal would put us back in the game and we had to keep fighting. We’re probably lacking a bit of self-confidence, everything looks difficult at times, but we have to keep calm and always give 100%. Mistakes can happen, this is football, but what’s important is to always know you’ve done your all. Our confidence will grow and we’ll play better.”
Speaking to DAZN, Reina said: “Emotions are not lacking? This is the beauty of football. I started well, then I made the mistake. Everything seemed lost, the team was a bit down but then we brought out our pride. I’d like to congratulate the guys even though we didn’t play well. There’s still a lot to improve. In the end we bring home the three points which is the most important thing.
“What went through my mind in that penalty in the end? The first thing I thought was that I don’t think it was a penalty… I stopped, Kouamé came at me. The referee could have gone to review it, those who understand a bit of football know that I have no intention of touching him. Then obviously we had already prepared ourselves about how an experienced player like Schöne takes penalties and luckily I managed to deny him.
“What is missing to find serenity? It’s a team that has so much to give and surely quality is not lacking. We are a very young team and this can sometimes penalize you. In these moments of distrust, the personality is lacking a bit. On Saturday we were afraid of making mistakes but we brought out more pride than at other times. We are happy but we still need to improve a lot.
“How do you manage to get personality out of these young players? We must all be ready to make our contribution, whatever it is. From outside the pitch, from inside the pitch… sometimes those who don’t play become even more important than those who do. We must be a group, this must be our only mentality. Small gestures make the difference. Over the years, the guys will become more serene about making a mistake or getting a match wrong.”
The 37-year-old also had an interview with RAI: “From hell to heaven? This is the job. We are happy with the victory we got in the second half, we are aware that we must grow, but it’s a very important win. A victory for Giampaolo? It’s especially for Milan. Clearly it was also important for the coach and for the fans. We had to play better with the ball, but these moments must pass, we must have confidence and I hope that this result will give us a hand.
“We had this game in mind right after Fiorentina, we knew it’d be tough, we suffered in the first half. I’m proud of the guys, we never gave up, and we played with a great desire to suffer and to hold on to a positive result.”