Nicola Zalewski details his evolution with Mourinho ahead of World Cup debut

Andy Mattioli

Roma wide man Nicola Zalewski is about to embark on his first ever World Cup tournament with Poland at the age of 20 – only one year since becoming a regular starter in Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

In a recent interview with DAZN, the Polish international discussed his emergence and development from Primavera midfielder to a regular member of the Conference League-winning first team.

“My life has changed so much in the last year and a half. It’s something I’ve been working on since I was a kid, I’m glad I got to this point but I know it’s just the beginning,” Zalewski said, looking back at his first start with the Giallorossi dating to a year ago.

On receiving his first national team call-up with Poland, Zalewski commented, “I was very excited. It was in September last year, I had just entered Roma’s first team on a permanent basis.”

“It was an unexpected call-up, I didn’t expect it because I was only 19 years old. Piotr Zielinski helped me a lot, now we are great friends. I felt very protected by Polish players who play in Serie A, they helped me out.”

“To be honest with you, I never expected that at 20 years old I would be able to play in a World Cup, it’s a dream come true.”

“Mourinho changed me a lot, I have to thank him because he made me realize I could play in a position that I never thought I could cover. I am very happy, but there is still a long way to go.”

“It is a privilege and a pride to be coached by a manager like him. It’s an honor to be deal with such a great person. His relationship with the players is very good. He’s been terrific with me, and has helped me out in some of the most difficult moments of my life. I have to thank him for it.”

“He’s very important for young players like myself. We feel protected by him, and not only us youngsters, the veterans too. The whole team and staff know that they can rely on him.”

“My childhood dream? To become a first team player for Roma. This dream has come true, but now I have to cherish it with all my heart.”

“Winning the Conference League? It was a joy for everyone. For those of us who grew up in the youth sector it was perhaps even more incredible, because winning an international trophy in the first year among the professionals is a truly incredible feeling and achievement.”

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MatchDay 33
22 Apr 18:30