Roma defender Chris Smalling was interviewed today by The Telegraph and spoke about his move to Roma and the decision to join the Giallorossi.
On the Italian language.
You do see very few English players going abroad and those that do are largely good players otherwise they wouldn’t have gone, but I feel a lot of their downfall is in the language. On the pitch you can learn the different basics of ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘behind you’ but off the pitch you want to have that influence around the team. We will be traveling together as a team so it is important to communicate as much as I can. That helps me be more comfortable around my team-mates. It makes the experience a lot better. Maybe where some English players are not fully committed to the language, off the pitch it is a big divide. By learning I can bring us closer and get to know them as soon as I can.
On the arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester for a world-record fee.
Not really. I had spoken to the manager before Harry came and I knew I was behind him and Lindelof but in previous seasons I had started behind [two first-choice centre-backs] and after four or five games I had worked myself into the team. I love a challenge and when a new centre-back comes in it makes you raise your game. You have to show more, you have to be more consistent.
If I had stayed I would have taken on that challenge and I would have been very confident that I would have played the number of games that I was worthy of. Equally I have a challenge here at Roma. Going back [at the end of the season] I will have an added element that some of the centre-backs won’t have. The easy decision was to stay. This is the perfect opportunity to try and live in a different culture. In that respect it is like a total change, although football is still the same football.
On being dropped from the England national team.
I am disappointed. I was used to going to England. I was playing regularly for United up to when I left. The aspiration is always there. Ultimately it is down to the manager’s choice. What was said was maybe unfair at times and managers [who have picked me] at United are some of the world-class ones. Some of the things that maybe he [Southgate] mentioned… I feel even the managers who have been brought in at United have certain ways of playing and some of them are quite similar to Gareth. I guess football is a game of opinions. I am definitely not going to agree with him and he might not agree with some of the things that I would say back. Ultimately I would never close that door and hopefully work my way in at some point. It is looking slim under Gareth but never say never.
On racism in Serie A.
Our voices as players need to be heard, whether that is us or the staff who are the subject of it. It needs to be said and ultimately when people do speak up is when a change happens. Hopefully the governing bodies and leagues and us players are closer [in terms of their views]. I feel that there is starting to be a little bit of cohesion. It is just disappointing. You have kids watching it on TV and then you have your kids being brought up around it. It needs to stop.