Ciprian Tătăruşanu spoke to Tuttosport ahead of Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina, saying ‘what matters is the win, no matter who will or will not be the protagonist – myself included’.
When Mike Maignan underwent surgery and news broke that he’d be out for 3 months, many Milan fans were worrying over how Tătăruşanu will handle things.
However, the Romanian goalkeeper has been a surprise of sorts, offering good performances between the sticks of the Rossoneri, despite only keeping one clean sheet in 6 games.
On Sunday night, Tata will have to be at his very best, as Milan face Inter in the first Derby of the season. Ahead of it, Ciprian sat down for an interview with Tuttosport’s Pietro Mazzara:
Starting from the match against Porto – what do you answer to those who claim that you already had your head at the Sunday Derby?
“We were not thinking about the Derby, not even for a moment. We were all focused on what was, perhaps, one of the last chances to go through and score points. Unfortunately we didn’t play a great match and we only took home a draw.”
You found yourself catapulted into a starting position after Maignan’s injury. Did you find it difficult to take the mental step from second to first-choice goalkeeper?
“It’s true that I haven’t played much in the last 2-3 years, but I before that I was always a starter and played a lot of games. I definitely have a lot of experience behind me. But I never saw myself as a second-choice goalkeeper, even if the hierarchies said that. I’ve always worked hard knowing that when the coach and the team needed me, I had to be there. Which is what I’ve done and demonstrated.”
Do you look forward to surprising and be on display again?
“Every player can always improve. The role of the goalkeeper is special. I’m still not old enough to think that I cannot improve anymore, and I train every day at the maximum.”
Do you think tranquility and security are your best qualities?
“I’m always very concentrated during the game and I always try to help my team and give them confidence. You have to remain connected to the game at these levels.”
When the injury of Maignan occurred, many expressed concerns over your performances. Did you read or hear these preemptive criticisms and what effect did they have on you?
“I don’t have the time to read it, but it’s normal that we can’t please everyone. But I know very well who I am, I know how I train, what kind of goalkeeper and person I am – and my teammates, the coach and my coaches know it as well.”
Is your strength more mental or does it come from preparation on the field?
“I think it’s a good mix of the two. I am a strong person mentally, my physique helps me. I have not had any injuries and I train hard every day. All these components are reflected in what I do during the game.”
For many, Milan’s position at the top of the standings is a surprise. How do you explain the different in performance between the league and the Champions League?
“We can no longer be considered a surprise. It’s reductive to say it. We have demonstrated on the field, with wins, that we deserve the position we are in. In the Champions League we have done less well in terms of the standings.”
For a goalkeeper like you, what does it mean to be in competition with teammates like Donnarumma and Maignan?
“Every day I do everything to be at the same level as them and even better. For a goalkeeper who doesn’t play, it’s fundamental to push every day going even beyond the performances of those ahead of you because when it’s your turn you have to be ready to respond.”
Sunday is the Derby. Do you have a feeling that it could be the game where you can further show your strength?
“We are starting to prepare from today. It’s true that it’s an important match, worth 3 points, but it’s still the Derby and it’s never a match like any other. We’re waiting for this match, as are our fans, our people. We must do everything to bring home the win. We want it.”
Do Milan have to be stronger than Inter?
“Being a team that has not changed so much, we know each other better and move forward on a specific path, developing our ideas can and must be our strength compared to Inter. What matters is the win, no matter who will or will not be the protagonist – myself included. It’s fundamental to go to the break with three more points in the standings.”
Last year there was the Lukaku nightmare. Who is the most dangerous client?
“Inter is a strong team, it would be understatement to point out a single player. They have many players who can make a difference. We have to think about facing them as a team as a whole and how to limit their way of playing which, in my opinion, is more offensive than last year’s.”
How important is the work you do every day with Dida, Ragno and Detti?
“They are very important and the results speak for them. Gigio did very well when he was with us, Mika was doing very well until he got hurt, and I do well. They do a great job in all respects.”
Do you understand why Donnarumma left Milan?
“I don’t have to understand. He made his choice by making decisions. He is doing well in Paris and we are doing well here. I think it was the best decision for everyone.”
From behind, how good is it to watch the team play in such a mature way?
“Seeing what we do every day in training, I am not surprised. They are more surprises for outsiders. Mister Pioli has also done a great job in the various readings of the match because inside the 90 minutes there are different moments to interpret. And we know how to do it well.”
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