World Soccer: Has this been your best start to a season?
DAVID TREZEGUET: No, because when I played for Monaco I used to start the season by scoring a lot of goals. But as far as Juve are concerned, it has been a better start for me. A year ago I was new here, I didn’t really know my team-mates, the team’s style of play or the city itself. It’s different now. I am still learning about Juve, though. It’s a colossal club, with 11million fans in Italy alone, and it has a long history. It has its own way of doing things. And just look at the players – Del Piero, Buffon, Thuram, Davids; and then there was Zidane too. Of the 25 Juve players here now, 17 are internationals – that’s impressive.

What type of Juve will we be seeing this season?
A more spontaneous and less technical side. With Zizou leaving, it was obvious we would need to change our style. We have more fighting spirit, partly thanks to (coach Marcello) Lippi, who has brought his passion to Juve following a spell at Inter that wasn’t exactly exciting for him. We’re strong, and our start to the championship and in the Champions League shows that.

There was speculation this summer about Christian Vieri joining from Inter and you going the other way. How did that affect you?
It was a very important time for me, and I think it has been the main reason why I have started the season so well. The club considered me to be indispensable. For a player, that sort of trust and good faith is pure gold.

Many players get out of Italian football because of its extreme stress. Have the pressures affected you at all?
Football is a phenomenon in Italy. It’s all they talk about. It’s crazy! After a game, I try to switch off completely, I try to be on my own and I don’t even switch on the television.

Do you get together with your idol, Gabriel Batistuta, at all these days?
We only manage to meet before a game.

Why do you look up to him above all others?
When he was young, he worked like crazy. He wasn’t that successful at first, but he never let it get him down and just tried even harder. When I saw his willpower as he got possession of the ball and took on his opponents I was astonished. I learned from him that the most important thing is to have a winner’s mentality.

What is your best quality?
Like Bati, I have the will to win. Let’s say that when times are bad, I am able to act as though times are good. And when things aregoing as well as they are at present, I am also able to bear it in mind that there will be dodgy times ahead at some point or other.

What aspect of your game would you like to improve?
Definitely my fitness. If I don’t work hard during training I can have problems on the pitch.

Does it worry you that you make only occasional starts for the French national team?
No, because France have won the World Cup and the European Cup fielding just one striker. I can put myself in the coach’s shoes and ask: why change things if it works so well?

France have been playing a number of friendlies. How useful are these?
Fairly. It’s not always easy to get fired up about friendlies but we’ve missed out on playing in theWorld Cup qualifying games, since we qualified by winning the trophy! We’ll need to get more focused as the finals approach.

But the world champions are being asked to play against the likes of Chile and Algeria.
It’s all to do with the politics within the federation.What can we do about it? We had to travel for 17 hours to play against Chile. But it’s all part of being a footballer.

France, Argentina and Italy are currently considered to be the best national sides. Do you agree?
Perhaps, but in World Cup games, just one incident can change everything. Argentina have impressed me the most. They’ve won their group, have a big lead and still have games in hand.

Who are the world’s best strikers?
There are many great ones but I’d go for Batistuta and Shevchenko.

Which coach has been particularly helpful to you?
Jean Tigana. When he took me on at Monaco he didn’t know much about me but he gave me a chance, and then he was very patient and allowed me to develop. Under him I became braver; it’s thanks to him and his good advice that I am here talking to you today.

As achild you used to go to matches with your father and uncle and both told you: ‘Watch what the centre-forwards do.’
That is true, and even today when I’m watching a game I only look at the attackers – the rest of the team do not exist for me.

As a player, your father had a free role. Has he ever tried to get you to change your style?
Never. Scoring goals has been my thing from the time I first kicked a ball. Life is goals – I knew that straight away.

This interview appeared in the November 2001 issue of World Soccer.