APPIANO GENTILE – After the victory over Napoli in Serie A on Sunday, Inter are now firmly in Champions League mood ahead of the visit of Shakhtar Donetsk at 18:45 CET on Wednesday 24 November. Matteo Darmian spoke in the club’s press conference alongside Simone Inzaghi on the eve of the Matchday 5 clash in the 2021/22 Champions League.
Are you setting yourself the target of getting called up to the national team?
“What I can say is that I feel my team-mates, boss and the club have confidence in me, which is what motivates me to come to training day in, day out to try to improve and when I get called upon, I try to help the team reach its targets. If I were to get the call from the national team, I would be thrilled, but I have to keep working hard and doing well, as we’ve all been doing. That doesn’t just apply to me, but to the whole team.”
You’ve made sure that Achraf Hakimi hasn’t been sorely missed. In terms of your performances and consistency, it’s been one of your best seasons…
“Replacing a top player like Hakimi is difficult. He’s one of the very best in that position. I always try to give my all to help the team while following the coach’s instructions. As I’ve said, I always give everything and it’s going well at the moment, but that goes for the team as a whole. We’re producing good performances and we have to continue in this vein.”
What’s behind your improvement and becoming such a versatile player?
“It’s down to hard work. I also have quite a few years’ experience behind me and during those years, I’ve developed as a person and also tactically and technically. My aim is to keep improving day after day.”
What does it mean to you to play for a club with the Scudetto patch sewn on to the jersey while vying for a place in the next round of the Champions League?
“When I decided to move to Parma, I was convinced it was the right choice. I was off the back of a few years in which I hadn’t played that much and I wanted to play. I was sure it was the right decision and that we could have a great season, which is how it played out. The call from Inter then came and I was very proud. I didn’t think twice. It was a wonderful year last season, culminating in winning the Scudetto, but there’s always that desire to improve and tomorrow’s game could well be key in that regard.”
There’s lots of talk about you in the media now, even though you’ve also achieved plenty in the past…
“I don’t think there’s anything to that. I just try to be myself in every situation on and off the pitch, with my team-mates and the press. That’s who I am and I’m proud.”
After three goalless stalemates with Shakhtar in a row, is there more psychological pressure linked to this clash?
“That certainly can’t be a limit for us. We have to take to the pitch fully focused and with determination, as we did on Sunday, while knowing that we’re up against a good team that like to keep the ball, but if we have the right attitude and focus, we can make it difficult for them and we’ll try to score goals because that’s what we’ll need tomorrow to win the game.”
In which ways do you feel this team has improved in the Champions League compared with last season?
“We have another year of experience behind us which obviously mustn’t give rise to arrogance. We have to stay humble and focused, while trying to do our best because we know how important this game is.”
Could the secret to this season be consistency?
“I always prepare as well as I can for whenever the coach picks me from the start or calls upon me from the bench. I’m always available and work hard to improve every day. That hard work pays off.”