Perotti: ‘Gasp saved my career’

Roma winger Diego Perotti believes Gian Piero Gasperini “saved my career” at Genoa, and hails Francesco Totti.

The 29-year-old has become a key man for the Giallorossi, but when he arrived in Italy from Sevilla his career looked to be on the slide.

“In Genoa I had Gasperini and it was him who saved my career,” Perotti admitted, speaking to Clarin.

“The way he coached me, he made me feel passion for football again. Gasperini wouldn’t let you stop, unless you were injured.

“When I first arrived, out of fear, I held back. But because I was new I couldn’t afford to do that, I worked really hard on my physique and it paid off, it was as if I’d rearranged my body and left my fears behind.

“Mentality has a huge influence, and in that regard Gasperini was a phenomenon. Now, unlike when I was at Sevilla or Boca Juniors, if I have a small knock I don’t go running to the doctor.

“That’s something that has strengthened me mentally and helps me not to feel fear.

“Then there’s [Eusebio] Di Francesco at Roma who has changed my way of playing a bit, asking me not to always hug the touchline, but to look to play deep and between the lines.

“That’s something [Argentina Coach Jorge] Sampaoli asks of me too.”

Perotti played in Francesco Totti’s final game last season, scoring a stoppage time winner to assure Champions League qualification.

“He’s the king of the city, playing with him was beautiful,” the winger recalls.

“I had to play until the last second of his career though, and I didn’t get the chance to fully enjoy it.

“But I saw the things he did in training, and when he turned matches on his own. He has a vision of the game that doesn’t require much from him physically, he can turn or change things with one pass, with his vision, or with a shot from 30 metres.

“He was the best here.”

Perotti was also coached by Diego Maradona…

“Yes, the first time I went to the national team it was he who called me up. I always say football has been generous to me.

“Maradona coached me, and I played with [Lionel] Messi, [Juan Roman] Riquelme, Totti… I don’t have much left to ask for from football.”

Finally, the Argentine was asked about the destination of the Scudetto, and whether Napoli can break Juventus’ hegemony.

“Until the game we played with Napoli, where we won 4-2, I thought so but now I think it’ll be difficult.

“They have to take advantage of the energy Juventus will lose with the Champions League.

“Above all though it depends on Juventus because they have the advantage, and I think they’ll be champions again.

“Roma? No, mathematically we can’t get there. We’re a long way behind, and we regret that. There are still a few games left, but I don’t think Juventus and Napoli will drop a lot of points.

“We have to think about qualifying for the next Champions League.”

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