Nainggolan arrives in Ferrara and takes the stage: “I have 60 minutes in my legs. Daniele and I played for five and a half years together. He wants to play Spalletti: I said yes”
Don’t give up, Radja. “How many minutes do I have in my legs? Sixty… Why did I choose the number 44? Double effort…”. His “new” calling card was a night trip from Antwerp after Joe Tacopina’s go-ahead for his Spal – in addition to the brotherly call of his new coach and former Roma partner Daniele De Rossi, director of everything -, the arrival in the city at busy times, the medical visits in the morning, the usual photo in the center of Ferrara with the Spal-shirt, the first training session at the “GB Fabbri” Technical Centre. Everything, the workout. 5-month contract with automatic renewal in case of promotion: without promotion, we will see anyway. Radja Nainggolan, 34 years old, the Ninja for everyone, is finally able and enlistable and shows up on an afternoon that gives sun and ideas, a stone’s throw from the home match against Bari and personifying an imminent future that must not be taken for granted. A future, if possible, from launch into orbit. The president Joe Tacopina is connected from New York (in addition to the director of the technical area Lupo) who took Radja and Feftatzidis in the January transfer market. Tacopina begins like this: “Being able to announce such a player – says Tacopina – is part of a fantastic day for us: he is one of the most representative players in football, considering what he experienced between Serie A, the national team and the Champions League. When I spoke to Daniele De Rossi a few days ago, who had obviously heard him on the phone, I thought it was a joke. He reiterated the possibility, seriously, and thanks also to his agent we closed a deal that I consider the beginning of a great adventure. Our real championship will start on Saturday”. At home with Bari, 2 pm.
EITHER I LIKE IT OR I’M ON…
And he, the Ninja, makes his debut like this: “How did Daniele convince me? A month and a half ago he made me a few jokes ‘Come on, give me a hand’ ”. I told him we would talk about it and here I am. He and I played five and a half years together, many battles, he wanted to play at Spalletti: I said yes. Let me be clear: Daniele has his own way of playing but since we had Luciano, well, he has always made his teams play well and it can also be seen in Europe. How did I find Daniel? A little fat. As a coach he is like when he played: he says what he thinks. I think he will be further capable of giving his value to this team. Even then he was a coach on the pitch, now I want to help him reach an important goal. Am I ready to play? I was born ready: then Daniele decides… But the results have to come quickly, I always look ahead and I want the playoffs. I look there, not back. I am very good friends with Pavoletti. One day, while talking to him, I told him “If you win four times in a row, you’re already up there”. They’ve won 4 and look where they are. Did Daniele say that someone must be afraid of me? I’m a simple guy: in football I’ve made great friendships, I like me as a person, others can also stay on the c …, let’s say so, for my teammates I’ve always gone to war and I expect the same things from them. Then I have my character, someone says that I break the locker room but I’ve never hurt anyone: even today I have ex-mates I had at Piacenza as friends “.
There is a rewind about the nickname (“Ninja was born because I have Asian traits, for the style of play, for the slides on the pitch: a name that I like and I believe was born in Cagliari”) and the deletion of entries relating to teams that they would have liked. “No, I’ve never heard from anyone. Ferrara? I’ve always been used to big cities, everyone gets around on bicycles: so far I’ve only found houses with two bedrooms, does anyone have children here? (laughs, ed.). My homework? I’ve run enough in my life, today I have to put quality. What should I tell my teammates? I often joke, I make jokes, it seems to me that I have arrived in a united group: for me it is more important to make the group understand that commitment is needed. There are good guys here, I like a midfielder, his name is Prati, he’s good. This team needs a little more finishing up front, Feftatzidis and I can bring a few more steps, as well as experience. The level of Serie B? It’s not like many years ago but there are many good young players, we play with intensity. I’m here to rediscover football enthusiasm. What made me lose it? I had lived my life like all men, unfortunately many gave more importance to what happened off the pitch than on the pitch. But being a normal person it was right that I wanted to do it too… Zaniolo? I’m only talking about Spal. Stefano Pioli launched me in Piacenza, he’s a wonderful person and a very good coach: he proved it and it’s not like he’s not now. Belgium at the World Cup? He did shit and came out, I tell you so ”. Thus, at the Radja. That he’s back.
February 2, 2023 (change February 2, 2023 | 18:14)
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