How do you remain so calm with all that has happened in the last year?
“It’s a family trait. We’re all very humble people, used to keeping our feet on the ground. It comes natural to me to take everything on without delving into a fantasy land.”
So if you didn’t have your family behind you what could happen?
“Without them it would be easy to fall into temptation and let it go to my head.”
You always appear so level-headed, even in the most delicate situations. Is it possible that nothing bothers you at all?
“Not necessarily. At times the anxiety arrives and I work to keep it under control. But it’s not some psychological secret. Playing a game on my PlayStation is enough to alleviate the tension. The important thing is to let your head go somewhere else.”
We’re imagining what you would play…
“Well, it’s obvious – FIFA 16. I also always buy myself in the transfer market, I spent €5 million (laughs).”
Such modesty. In real life you would value yourself much more, right?
“I try not to think about it. It all happens very fast, I only think about living in the moment and I give myself limits. As a supporter seeing myself in Milan is a beautiful feeling, but it still feels a bit strange.”
They say the second year is always the most difficult.
“I’m not afraid of that, I’m calm because I only know a culture of work, and putting in the work pays off.”
[Milan President Silvio] Berlusconi said that you’ll be Milan’s goalkeeper for the next twenty years. A wonderful compliment that in a way can be scary.
“Absolutely not. I really like the idea to renew [my contract] and I also like to think I will have a lasting relationship with Milan for the coming years. I’ve always been a Milan supporter and I must say the captain’s armband is a dream of mine, a crowning achievement in my career path. Obviously though, one thing at a time.”
What is one thing you don’t want to revisit from last year’s Milan?
“The drops in concentration. I only say that the Milan that fell out of the European places can’t been seen again. The campaign will be hard, but if Leicester can make their mark…”
The first match of the season you’ll see Mihajlovic again, the coach who launched your career. What effect will it have?
“I’ll never be able to thank him enough, he gave me so much, but I want to start the season well.”
What did he say to you before your debut?
“It was the night before the Milan-Sassuolo match and we were in a retreat in Milanello. He took me aside and asked me how I felt. I was astonished, I didn’t expect it but I knew he could count on me.”
First impressions of Montella?
“Excellent. He has so much desire, we’re all doing well. He’s the right coach to restart with.”
How did it feel to relegate someone like Diego Lopez to the bench?
“I always had an excellent relationship with him, even when I became the starter he was always nearby, giving me advice.”
Most emotional moment of the season?
“The 3-0 win over Inter in the derby.”
The error you would rather forget?
“[Domenico] Berardi’s goal at my near post in my debut.”
One thing you want to improve and your biggest strength.
“Playing with the ball at my feet, while I like my calm demeanor. On the pitch it’s important that I manage the game not like a 17-year-old, but with maturity.”