Interviews

Chris Smalling discusses fifth season at Roma, Top 4 ambitions and more

Andy Mattioli
I

English defender Chris Smalling recently discussed entering his fifth season with Roma.

The veteran centreback – who initially joined the capital club on loan from Manchester United in 2019 – spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport about his personal and team ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

“My only expectations for this year are to do better than last season,” Smalling told the Italian newspaper. “Last season we reached a European final. So, if we want to do better then it means we have to win a trophy this year and get Top 4 in the league.”

“The lost Europa League final in Budapest? Very painful defeat: we were confident, even though we knew we were playing against a great team. But the sensations were positive, especially after a dominated first half. Then penalties, you know, make history by themselves. This year we must do everything to erase that bitterness.”

“Anthony Taylor? It’s hard to say what would have been without certain decisions, these matches often revolve around a couple of episodes that clearly didn’t go our way. That’s how it went, we’d better focus on ourselves and see where to improve. The arrival of new players can be important for us.”

“Ndicka, Aouar and Kristensen? I’m happy they’re here with us. They already seem to be at ease with the rest of the team and we’re here in Portugal also to get to know each other better.”

“I am aware of my role on and off the pitch, also due to the experience I have. I like this pressure, I want to be an example for my teammates, but there are other leaders too.”

“My new deal with Roma? I was very clear about the desire to stay in Rome, where I’ve always had a great time. I spoke to Mourinho, Pinto and the owners, I listened to their ambitions and objectives and I didn’t hesitate. Add to that the incredible support from the fans…”

“Roma haven’t played in the Champions League in over five years. That’s too long for a club like Roma. This too should give us the necessary motivation for greater consistency. We are not happy that we finished behind Lazio and that they are playing in the Champions League and we are not. But I’m sure this will give us the right motivation to go back up.”

“Mourinho? José is still himself and he will continue to be himself in 5-10 years. He’s a person who has victory in his DNA: he can be kind on your days off and concentrated when training or playing. In terms of personality he is the same as always.”

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