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​Giorgio Chiellini Interview: Italy is not a favorite for this European Championship

Giorgio Chiellini, the Juventus legend who currently works at Los Angeles FC, recently gave an interview to FIFA's official website. The Italian defensive stalwart discussed his career, retirement in Los Angeles, life in LA, winning the 2020 European Championship, the Italian national team, and topics such as Messi and Ronaldo.

​Giorgio Chiellini Interview: Italy is not a favorite for this European Championship

After retiring from LA FC, you chose to stay at the club as a player development coach. Could you talk about this role and its relationship with the club's current development plans?
Besides the role itself, I'm also interning at LA FC, trying to provide help from a sports management perspective and offering advice when needed. I'm also leveraging my extensive network to assist the club. Additionally, I'm gaining experience in commercial affairs and participating in various meetings with colleagues from other fields. The work in all departments here is well-organized, and everyone is willing to help me grow professionally in my "second life."

Is transitioning from player to coach difficult?
Ending a player's career is always complex, but it's much easier if it's your own decision to retire. Over time, I entertained this idea, and although the club offered me the option to continue playing, I felt it was time to start a new life. Then, I wanted to retire at the right moment and enjoy my last moments on the field until the very end. Understandably, retirement was a huge blow for me because you've essentially only done one thing in the first half of your life, and then one day you suddenly say goodbye to it all, which isn't easy. But if you're adequately prepared, it becomes easier to accept. I'm eager to learn new things, and I'm motivated to understand the world from a different perspective. I haven't started missing my playing career yet because my curiosity for new things is stronger!

​Giorgio Chiellini Interview: Italy is not a favorite for this European Championship

In recent years, the MLS has seen significant development, partly thanks to the arrival of big-name players like Messi. Is this true?
The progress of the league is evident, and Messi's arrival is exceptional. In this sense, his arrival can be considered an incredible accelerator. If you compare now to a few years ago, you'll notice a significant difference in the stability of the clubs. The path that the MLS is taking is crucial, with the construction of new stadiums, high attendance rates, and everyone being enthusiastic. The culture of sports in the United States is somewhat different from Europe, but the format of the league's regular season and playoffs helps manage it better. Soccer matches here are a real show, not just limited to 90 minutes, and they offer more than just goals or the game itself.

How much impact did Italy's failure to qualify for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups have on you?
Missing out on two consecutive World Cups is definitely regrettable. Even if we only consider the children, these absences leave emotional gaps in many Italian kids' lives. I can attest to this because I watched Italy play in the World Cup when I was very young. Personally, not being able to participate in the World Cup for the first time and having to watch it at home was quite damaging to me because it was something I didn't expect, and I never thought I would experience such a moment. As for the second elimination, having experienced the first one, especially after winning the European Championship a few months earlier, softened the blow. Clearly, winning the European Championship is not enough to make up for those two disappointments, but our emotions during the European Championship were strong.

Now, I hope this Italian team can have a pleasant European Championship in Germany. As a young team still finding its identity, we won't be favorites, but it's still possible to achieve good results, even though the group stage will be tough. But the possibility of winning is real, of course, depending on many factors. I hope and believe Italy can perform well in the group stage and then seize opportunities in the knockout stage.

Who was the toughest teammate you've encountered, and who was the hardest player to face?
The strongest player I've been teammates with is definitely Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo. Buffon is the best goalkeeper in football history, and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the top players in football history, depending on your perspective. He's definitely a member of football's hall of fame.

The most difficult player I've faced is Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In MLS, many people ask me who is better between Messi and Ronaldo? Who is better between Messi and Ronaldo? It's like asking LeBron James and Michael Jordan. I don't think it's a competition; both are top-level superstars. Obviously, out of affection, I'm closer to Ronaldo because I've been teammates with him, but both are exceptional talents, and it's not a zero-sum relationship. 
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