Giorgio Chiellini: I went to a liceo [high school] and I had always intended to continue with studies but, given that I had begun to play football professionally, I ran out of time. So I picked a degree course that does not oblige you to attend all the lectures and I went from there. If you want to do it, you can. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, so I have time.
And you’re not afraid to make full use of the online social networks for keeping in touch with fans…
I think Twitter is the best way for me to stay in contact with fans. I try to interact with them but obviously I cannot reply to everybody. When I was younger I would have done much the same as the fans do now and for that reason I try to be active with Twitter.
What was your initial reaction to Italy’s group at Euro 2012?
Not bad. On paper, perhaps the only easier group is Poland’s, but then our first-round group in South Africa was meant to be easy and we found out to our cost that that was not the case.
But you have to start against Spain…
True, we have arguably our most difficult game right away, yet, sooner or later, you’re going to meet a team like
Spain. The reality of the European Championship is that the difference between elimination and qualification for the next round can be razor thin.
How do you feel about meeting Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland?
I just hope we can put a halt to Trap’s gallop! I’ve never had Trap as a coach, but he remains a legend of Italian soccer. Destiny is strange. We faced Trap’s Ireland in the last World Cup qualifying round when they gave us so much bother and now we meet them in the European finals. Of course, we didn’t want to meet him. We’ve lots of respect for Trap and his team, while it’s obviously very special for him to play against Italy. The fact is that we would have been supporting him and Ireland like mad – if only they were playing in another group.
Prandelli has been warning everyone not to forget about Croatia, too…
Croatia are one of those sides that have to be included in the ranks of dangerous outsiders at any finals. Let’s hope they are not like Russia in 2008 and spring a major surprise. In the Euros you just need two good results and you’re away.
Do Italy look a little lightweight in midfield and attack?
You can say we’re lightweights up front, but look at Spain – they have a lot of lightweights but they’re pretty useful! The reality is that we’re in the finals on the second row of the grid, behind teams like Spain, Holland and Germany.
Was your qualifying group a bit falsified by the riot in Genoa at the Serbia game, given that, in the end, you picked up three points without having played a game?
Not at all. Our group was no contest, we won by 10 points though obviously we would have preferred to beat Serbia on the pitch. It was a strange night. It all seemed normal during the warm-up. Then when the national anthems were being played we noticed strange things happening, police filing into the ground. In the end there were so many police on the pitch that we didn’t feel in danger.
What is your preferred position, central defence or left-back?
I prefer central defence, but being asked to play left-back is no problem. I think I can do pretty well in either position.
Can Andrea Pirlo still do the same job for Italy as he has done this season for Juventus?
Of course, he is such a quality player. He did it for Milan for so many years, for Italy at the 2006 World Cup and he has been fantastic for us at Juve.
Interview by Paddy Agnew