Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was interviewed today by Belgian newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws. These are his words:
How many days did it take you to realise what you’ve done against Barcelona?
The day after I did not believe it, Roma in the Champions League semifinals. It seemed an impossible task, but what we did is unique and nobody believed it would be possible.
Why? Did not you say that Roma had a chance to do the ‘remuntada’?
What else are you supposed to say at a press conference? I want to be honest: I thought winning against Barcelona would be a great thing, but only when we went up 2-0 is when I started to believe in qualification because I felt we were hungry, that we kept running and pressing them. Physically and tactically, including the formation the Mister opted for, we were better than Barça. We really wanted the semifinals, but Barça felt safe after going up 4-1 at the Camp Nou. But in football, you can never relax.
Are you aware that it happens once in a lifetime?
Yes, it’s something we will not see soon again. Actually, our entire season in the Champions League has been incredible. In the group stage, we advanced against teams like Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, everyone was surprised that we had won the group. And in the same way to eliminate Barça in the quarterfinals… we won! Plus nobody talks about the rigors that were there for us at the Camp Nou.
Satisfied having drawn Liverpool?
No, I think Liverpool is the toughest team of the three. Not because they have more quality than Real Madrid and Bayern, but because it is a team that gives a lot of effort and has nothing to lose. Believe me, it will be very difficult. Real and Bayern could have underestimated us, like Barcelona, but in Liverpool there are warriors, a bit like us.
Roma is dreaming of the final in Kiev.
Dreaming does not hurt. We must believe now that we are in the semifinals.
Surprised by Salah?
It does not surprise me, he has always had these qualities. The only difference is that now he has had more opportunities. Perhaps he has learned to be more ruthless on goal.
Or are the defences in the Premier League worse?
It is possible, but Momo could have scored 30 goals last season. He is a winner, I am a fan of his.
If you have to choose: the Champions League with Roma or the World Cup with Belgium?
I say the Champions League because Belgium still has a long way to go to become a champion, while Roma is already in the semifinals.
How is your relationship with the Martinez coach?
He talks to me more than before and our relationship has changed, I have a better feeling with him now. Not that now we are best friends, we always have our differences, but our relationship has improved.