Manuel Locatelli has spoken to La Gazzetta dello Sport about Italy U21, his time at Milan and his favorite TV shows.
Locatelli left Milan in 2018 in search of more playing time and in these days he’s captaining the Under 21 Italy side as they are fighting for qualification for the 2021 UEFA European Competitions.
“If being the captain of the U21 team is an extra responsibility? It’s a responsibility that I like because the coach immediately made me feel important, it’s a source of pride,” the former Rossoneri midfielder said in an interview with Sunday’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If I’ve been given any advice? To do thing for the team and put the group first. Not everyone does that? I don’t know about that… but it’s the most important thing to do.
“This U21 side? We’re at the beginning, we have a lot to do, there’s a good potential. The fact that we had two years of only friendly games [they were already qualified for the 2019 U21 EUROs because it was hosted by Italy and therefore didn’t play any competitive matches leading up to the tournament]? The motivations are different in games with no points up for grab. It’s tough matches like the one against Ireland U21 that make you grow, you get used to getting results. Now there’s Armenia? We must not underestimate anyone, in international moment it’s when you fall.
“Sassuolo didn’t start very well in Serie A? Yes, we have to roll up our sleeves. We looked at each other, nothing serious has happened but we have to do better. I want to do more myself, I’m ambitious and for the goals I’ve set for myself I have to play more, but I have to earn it. We’ve lost Giorgio Squinzi? He was an example to follow, an exceptional person, who I can only thank. Ha taught us many values.
“For many I’m still the one who scored against Juventus? That goal changed my life, it’s one of my best moments and I’ll tell me children about it. But there’s also a downside: too many expectations were created for me, and when things weren’t going well, I suffered. I wasn’t a phenomenon before and I didn’t become useless afterwards, I’ve always been the same, with the desire to improve myself and feel more and more important. But now I’m mentally stronger, more ready to face expectations.
“Who helped me? My family and my girlfriend. I thank them because they kept me in balance, I need them. My dad works at a bank, it’s fortunate because he manages everything; my mom is a housewife, she’s always been behind me.
“A player that inspires me? I’ve already looked at Pirlo, now I’d say Kroos. And another important example was Marchisio. The 10 years at Milan? It was a fundamental chapter. I’m sorry for how we separated because I have Milan and their fans in my heart. When I see San Siro it’s a different emotion, which I only feel there. The current Milan? It’s a project under construction, but it’s taking a bit too long, because Milan must return to what it is, for the history, the fans and the ambitions it has.
“My sister graduated in Russian and Pedagogy and my brother in Organizational Sciences? I did the first two years of high school and then for too many football commitments, I moved to Accounting. The diploma is a satisfaction I gave to my parents and myself. In life, you never know, there is not only football… Passions beyond football? TV series. I look at them all, even though I know I should read more because you always need to train your mind. My favorite show is Prison Break and now I’m finishing Peaky Blinders. If I like the 20s style? No, I like being elegant.”