Theo Hernández spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport, said he wants to stay at Milan for a long time and promised to do a certain thing if the Diavolo reach the Champions League this season.
Theo is without a doubt one of the most important players in the squad of Stefano Pioli as in addition to playing his part in defense, the left-back is Pioli’s added weapon in attack as he makes terrific runs and scores great goals, most recently on Sunday against Spezia at Stadio San Siro.
The Frenchman, who turned 23 this week, spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Marco Pasotto ahead of next Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina (18:00 CET kickoff):
We are still at the beginning, but this time Milan are starting higher than the Nerazzurri…
“Actually we feel very calm in our approach to this match. We have to face it like we’ve done so far: running and fighting, and trying to win it.”
The last success in a league derby dates back to January 2016: will this be it?
“Yes. We can win. Now we have a great team, there is a great group, a real group. The fans are with us. There is everything to win.”
There is also Ibra…
“He is fundamental. Since he arrived, everything has changed. He helps us, speaks to us, and supports us, one by one. A true leader. We are happy that he’s back with us.”
On the wing you will find yourself in front of Hakimi, who you’ve known since the days of Real Madrid: many consider it the most exciting challenge of the whole match…
“I had him as a teammate, I know who he is and what he can do, and he’s a great player. But I will give everything so that he does nothing. I will not let him pass. I know how much he counts.”
Brahim Díaz also arrived from Real Madrid…
“He is impressive. It’s really nice to see him play. He only has a one-year contract but it’d be great if he stayed with us for a long time.”
Let’s talk about your year, instead: football-wise can last year be called the best of your career?
“It was a great first season and now another great season has started. I’ve been here for a year and yes, football-wise it was the best year of my life. A dream.”
What has changed compared to Spain?
“Here football is more tactical and physical whereas in Spain you play more with the ball. But I have adapted well.”
Did you expect to grow so much and so fast?
“After the difficulties of the previous two years, in fact, I wasn’t expecting such a rapid growth but I know what kind of player I am and I know my qualities. When I arrived I said: I want to become the number one fullback.”
Do you think you can do it with Milan?
“Yes. There are many strong colleagues in my role, but after a year like this I realized that I can do it. But I have to keep working hard. I owe it to Maldini who wanted me, to my teammates who help me and to my coach who is helping me grow.”
Tell the truth, from one fullback to another we imagine Maldini has given you some advice. Always with respect for Pioli of course…
“He helps me, he tells me where I can improve. He’s valuable, he was an absolute Champion.”
What do you think you need to improve?
“In the defensive phase. And also in concentration, Pioli always tells me that.”
How important was Pioli to you?
“Very important. Since he arrived things have been clear, he told us what to do. He arrived at a very difficult moment, we were not winning and the fans were not happy. We grew a lot as a group and as individuals. When the news came out that he could leave, I didn’t understand why: he was doing very well. But luckily he stayed. He’s an incredible coach.”
You are much more convinced, even with words…
“We feel much stronger on the field, in a year everything has changed. Now playing at Milan is beautiful and fun.”
If then the Champions League comes…
“We are a team and it will be a great year. I believe we’ll make it.”
You really gave yourself totally to the Rossoneri cause: it’s a beautiful thing…
“I want to stay here for a long time. I’m here to stay, I’m happy, it’s like it’s my home. But on the other hand, I already knew that Milan was the right choice for my career. Milan were the priority right from the start. I never had any doubts, and I’ve done well. I’m also happy because my family supports me. My brother Lucas is away but he’s helping me. He’s also my best friend, that’s all… like my mom. They are the two most important people in my life. She helped us by herself, raised us alone. Without her, Lucas and I wouldn’t be where we are now. I prefer not to talk about my father…”
The fans were crazy for you right away…
“Because I work a lot. Or maybe because I run a lot [laughs]… it’s a beautiful thing.”
You are also very satisfied emotionally… at work, it helps…
“I’ve met a girl who has made me happy. In Italy I also feel at home because I met her, Zoe, who is Italian. She showed me things I didn’t know. But I still continue to live near Como, in Milano there are too many people to live. And I have my three dogs, they need space… and so do I.”
To get to perfection, only the national team is missing at this point: you made your disappointment clear on social media…
“Sometimes the coaches have their ideas and their players, but honestly it seemed to be that after a year like this… I will continue to fight for them to call me up. My objective is the EUROs and I have one year to do it.”
Let’s close with derby: make a promise in case of a victory, perhaps with one of your goals…
“No… I’ll do one if we reach the Champions League: I’ll dye my hair in Red and Black, with the badge of Milan on.”