After saying goodbye to his club in May, Giorgio Chiellini is preparing for his 117th and final cap when European champions Italy take on South American counterparts Argentina in the first final at Wembley.
The centre-back, who was twice UEFA Champions League runners-up with Juventus, reached a footballing pinnacle last summer when he led the Azzurri to glory at UEFA EURO 2020 finals -year-olds told UEFA.com how it feels to say goodbye take.
Farewell to international football in the Finalissima
It is wonderful. Argentina has exceptional players. It is obvious that the first thing that comes to mind is [Lionel] Messi, but the others around him are fantastic – they didn’t win [the Copa América] inadvertently.
[Messi is] a football icon. It’s not for me to say whether he’s the greatest of all time or not. It will be just a pleasure to play my last game for the national team against him. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him on several occasions and thankfully it’s often gone well. Competing against big players like him is a matter of luck: if he and his team get it right on the day, they are unstoppable.
How brilliant is Giorgio Chiellini?
About his Italy career
It was without a doubt better than I could have ever imagined. When you’re a kid you dream of playing for the national team because that’s the ultimate thing. The thought of being able to play 100+ games over the course of 18 years, be captain and win an important trophy like I did at Wembley last year was icing on the cake.
I hope [the fans will] remember me as a good person. A personified person [certain] Values. I have my strengths and weaknesses on the pitch and some will remember both. In the long run you always remember the nicer things, that’s normal.
Finalissima: What you should pay attention to
On what he will miss about football
I will miss the dressing room the most. First I was young, now I’m more mature. But I have fun with the young people. They give me energy and I feel really good sharing the dressing room with them. Of course we live completely differently off the pitch because of the age difference. But also because of the energy and lightheartedness they have. I will definitely miss all these dynamics.
What would I say to my younger self? Always work with passion, try to get better and have fun. It’s a job, but it’s the best hobby and fun a kid can dream of. Everything always has to be in balance, in life and in football. It is only when there is a balance and when you do things right and at the right time that you can make the mistakes that a young man will make.
How he will feel full-time
I just experienced it at Juventus so I more or less know what to expect. It’s a second closure; these were the two loves of my life, two great love stories. I played 17 years for Juventus and 18 years for the national team – they were a big part of my life.
i am at peace I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and a little bit proud of what I’ve achieved in my career. But more than that, I’m proud of the core values I’ve passed on and the affection that people I’ve met from 2004 – or even 1999 with the U15s – have for me to this day.