Interview by: Simone Togna
Edited by: Nima Tavallaey Roodsari

Inter Milan legend Gianluca Pagliuca believes tonight’s Derby D’Italia Serie A clash isn’t as important as the upcoming Coppa Italia Semifinal double fixture against Juventus.

This is the first part of an exclusive interview with Pagliuca focusing on his newly released book as well as on tonight’s Derby D’Italia Serie A clash against Juventus at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, with kick-off scheduled for 20.45 CET.

Tomorrow morning at 09.30 am CET, the second in-depth part of the interview will be published on covering everything from André Onana’s development, Samir Handanovic’s legacy, how far Inter can go in the Champions League, Simone Inzaghi’s tenure and much, much more.

The former Nerazzurri goalkeeper believes it is more important to win the Coppa Italia and end the season with a trophy than to win tonight’s Serie A clash given Napoli’s huge lead at the top of the table, considering tonight’s game as a battle for who finishes second.

“I view this [Inter Milan vs Juventus Serie A clash] as a bit of subdued affair. This particular meeting doesn’t excite me as it usually does.

“In two weeks time they meet again in the Coppa Italia, Napoli have too far ahead for anyone to think about catching them, so it’s really a battle for second spot [in the Serie A].

“I think if it was a match I could have avoided playing I would have, given you’ve got the Champions League and Europa League quarterfinals on top of the Coppa Italia semifinal coming up.

“Inter come into this game on the back of the battle in Porto, and Juventus from a game against Freiburg that was anything but easy. This Inter vs Juventus Serie A clash is therefore relatively important.”

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“The Coppa Italia clash is more important. If I could choose which match to win, I think Inzaghi and Allegri will go after winning the domestic Cup. As I said, the Serie A clash isn’t as important, even if it is a battle for second spot.”

During his five year stint at Inter, Gianluca Pagliuca took part in one of the most controversial ever played in the Serie A between the Nerazzurri and Juventus, namely during the 97/98 season at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

In his newly released autobiography, Volare Libero, Pagliuca writes about punching the referee in that match, Piero Ceccarini, discreetly in his side.

The game ended in a 1-0 win for Juventus after Brazilian legendary striker Ronaldo was denied a penalty with the Bianconero ending up winning the Serie A title that season.

Several Inter players from that era, such as Brazilian legend Ronaldo and current Nerazzurri Vice-President Javier Zanetti, have since stated how they believe there were nefarious reasons behind the Bianconeri winning that Serie A title as well as that particular encounter.

Pagliuca, believes there were many other situations from that particular season that were strange although most people only remember the incident involving Mark Iuliano and Ronaldo.

“Look, I’ve been insulted heavily on social media [for claim of having punched the referee]. I’ve written it all in the book. I’ve already written it, it’s all in the book and it’s all true.

“Everyone only remembers and only talks about this particular incident. But they don’t know or remember many other mistakes that season.

“For example Empoli’s Bianconi scoring and [Juventus goalkeeper] Peruzzi pushing the ball out when it was a meter inside the goal-line and the goal not standing.

“The same is true of Bierhoff scoring [for Udinese] in Turin [against Juventus] but the goal was disallowed and then Juventus winning a game where they should have gone a goal down.

“There are many situations that you can find which I write about in the book. It’s another reason to read it.”

On the topic of the book, written together with Federico Calabrese, Pagliuca tells everything, from his early years via his teen-years and start at Sampdoria to Inter and ending his career.

“I was contacted over a year ago by Federico Calabrese, who asked if I was up for writing a book. I accepted it because it felt like a good idea.

“It was a beautiful experience, turning back the years and going down memory lane. Fortunately, I have a great memory, so I remembered many anecdotes that have never been told or known.

“I looked to tell the stories that no-one knows about. The good and bad times, the matches, what was said, the goals conceded which are known to all Calcio aficionado’s.

“However, what happened in the dressing-room and other events are all new and have never been told before.

“I go back from the very beginning, from my infancy, it all began there. The first time on a pitch, school years, family, the teenage years, playing in the youth academy.

“Then of course playing for Bologna, Sampdoria, Inter, Bologna again, the national team and of course when I stopped playing.

“I’ve looked to reveal things from my infancy that no-one knows about like my relationship with my parents and my friends. Or the mischief we got up to in school.

“There are some every entertaining and funny things. You can find everything in the book. I can really warmly recommend it” Pagliuca concludes.