Roma fullback Davide Zappacosta, who joined the club last summer on loan from Chelsea, gave an extensive interview today to the club’s official website and discussed the various stages of his career. Here’s what the Italian had to say:
After three seasons you went back to Atalanta, this time as part of the first team. What was it like going back?
They got me in for a trial when [Stefano] Colantuono was the coach. He started me in the pre-season friendly matches and then I played for the whole season.”
What memories do you have of your Serie A debut?
My family was there watching me and to see them so emotional was amazing – it’s something I’ll always carry with me. Making my debut was the culmination of a childhood dream… something you never forget.
You’d barely got settled in at Atalanta when you moved to Torino. Was it disruptive to move on again so soon?
No, by that point I felt ready for a change. Back then Atalanta needed to sell and Torino were a team with ambitions to fight to get into Europe, so I had no problem with moving.
Do you see your two seasons with Torino as a positive time?
Yes, though the first year was a bit tricky. They’d been using the same playing system for a few years, under [Gian Piero] Ventura. I was able to show what I could do, but I only really found some consistent form under [Sinisa] Mihajlovic, who put his faith in me and helped me to develop in terms of my character, which is what I needed at that point.
It was the most important year of my career and resulted in me getting called up to the Italy squad.
You progressed so much that you were signed by Chelsea. How did that transfer come about?
There were only a few days of the transfer window left. I got a call saying that [Antonio] Conte wanted me there, then he called me himself. I’d found a good balance at Torino and I wanted to build on what I was doing, but it was Chelsea so in the end I decided to go for it and take another step up. My initial hesitation gave way to excitement and I was on the move again.
So you considered turning the move down?
It might seem easy from the outside – people probably think that if Chelsea are interested, you have to say yes. I get that, but not everything’s that easy. I’d come from a small village, I’d established myself in Turin… then another even bigger change seemed so much. I was going to a completely different environment, with different habits, big players everywhere, not knowing anyone… I had to earn their respect and settle in. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and I’m pleased with my decision.
You were at Chelsea for two seasons. Was the first or the second better?
Training with top players helped me and playing in the Premier League was a really important experience. The first year was very positive and I managed to make lots of appearances – I felt really good. Under [Maurizio] Sarri, in the second season, I found it tougher going.
The team captain was ahead of me in the pecking order and I struggled to get noticed by the coach, so lost a bit of confidence. In my position, you have to run a lot – and if you’re not keeping the legs moving all the time you lose fitness and it’s difficult to play one or two matches per month. We won the Europa League, though, which was an amazing feeling.
When Roma came in, was that the right opportunity for you to kick on again?
It definitely gave me a boost. I wanted to make a change – I needed a release and to find a new challenge. I was delighted to join Roma, perhaps happier than I’d ever been before. Chelsea is a massive club, I know, but on a personal level my second season there was really difficult, so coming here was a new start.
You picked up your first injury not long after you made your debut for Roma, in the warm-up before the derby. What was going through your mind in the run-up to that game?
I think that injury was a product of my state of mind. I was really happy when I arrived at the stadium – it had been a long time since I’d started a game of that level. I was really pumped up and couldn’t wait for the game to get underway.
I’m not really a big one for superstitions, but perhaps I was carrying around too much mental baggage. I was absolutely desperate to have the game of my life. I wanted to do well… I was thinking: ‘Now I’ll show you all what I’m all about.’ Maybe it got too much.
After that muscle injury you picked up a much more serious one, involving your cruciate ligament, which kept you out for several months. What was your reaction after the injury?
Everything looked bleak to me – it was as if I had a black cloth over my head. I couldn’t believe it… I felt like I’d got back to my level. I stayed calm, but in the early days I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then I had to start again. I got all that out of my mind. I worked hard, put the effort it and did a lot of work on my body. I think I did a good job.
What now for this team?
We have some demanding games coming up but it’s vital that we believe in ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether we’re home or away – the situation is the same for everyone and we need to make sure our approach is the same in every match. We can’t hold anything back.