Giacomo Bonaventura struggled to fight back the tears when dedicating his return to Italy’s squad to his late father and admitted Luciano Spalletti and Vincenzo Italiano’s playing styles are ‘similar.’
The 34-year-old Fiorentina midfielder has been called up by Luciano Spalletti for games against Malta and England. Bonaventura has made 14 appearances with Italy, but the last time he played for the Azzurri was in 2018.
“I want to do well every day, give my best and try to improve every day. This is what I want, give my best,” the Fiorentina midfielder said at a press conference attended by Football Italia on Wednesday.
Bonaventura made his Azzurri debut in 2013 against San Marino. Today, he was asked whether he had thought he’d never played for the national team again over the last few years.
“I came here trying to give my best,” he said.
“There have been many changes. In the beginning, there were experienced players who had played for many years in top clubs. The team became younger through the years. I remained out sometimes but I never gave up, giving my best for my clubs.
“I had no fear, but I thought I would not return. Many young players have been called up during the last few years, so I thought there was no longer space for me. I believe that if one performs well, then he deserves to be in the national team. The best players must be part of the squad and I hope to continue like this.”
Fiorentina boss Italiano was one of Napoli‘s candidates to replace Spalletti last summer, so Bonaventura was asked if the two coaches have similar characteristics.
“From what I’ve seen so far, the playing style is similar. There are small details that are different, but generally they are similar,” he admitted.
“They need dynamic midfielders in both phases. We need to go inside the box, score, press and do everything. We are working with the coach [Spalletti] now. He is showing us many situations. I think we can do well with the characteristics we have.
“Italiano is a young coach who is doing really well in Serie A. The team is playing great football and I think he has room for improvement. I am happy for him. I see the passion he has and the way he works and I think he can develop even more.”
Despite being 34, Bonaventura believes he can still improve too.
“I hope I can score even more goals. I play closer to the goal and I hope to continue,” he said.
“I’ve been called up many times, the first time was ten years ago. I have had some difficulties with the national team, but I’ve always tried to give my best. I came here trying to give my best. Some things in football are not always up to you, you can’t control everything. The past is the past, now I am here and I am happy to start this new adventure.”
Spalletti has hinted that Bonaventura could be Italy’s Jude Bellingham because of his goal contributions, so Jack was asked his thoughts on the coach’s take and what’s his ‘longevity’ secret.
“I leave comparisons to you. Every player has his own characteristics and qualities,” he replied.
“I am here at 34. I have no secrets. I just train, go to sleep early and eat well. Football is my great passion, I do things in a serious way because I am convinced I can reap the rewards by doing so.”
Bonaventura has covered many positions in midfield during his career and was asked if this has affected him.
“I have no regrets, all the difficulties have made me become the player I am today. I’ve played in different positions, seeing football from different perspectives. I’ve found stability with this coach [Italiano] who has given me the trust I need to be an important player. The work we’ve done over the years has given me a lot and helped me be here today.
“I left Milan with great desire and motivation. I knew the new experience would have been nice because I had a lot to prove. I wanted to prove I could still be an important player. Then Fiorentina arrived and it’s been an ideal place for me to return at a high level.”
Why do young Italian players struggle to emerge?
“Obviously, numbers say there are fewer Italians who can be called up. Every team used to have at least four or five Italians until a few years ago, now there aren’t many,” said Bonaventura.
“Clubs have a financial advantage in signing foreign players and this is affecting young players of our league.”
Is he considering becoming a coach when he retires?
“I only think about playing football,” he admitted. “It requires a lot of mental and physical energy. Surely, I try to learn from every coach I’ve had because I like football, but right now, I am only focused on playing football.”
The 34-year-old got emotional when asked who he dedicates his call-up to and struggled to fight back the tears.
“My father was really proud to see me play with the national team,” he said.
“The next two games will be tricky, in today’s football every game is tough we have already started studying opponents. We’ll try to do our best.”