MILAN - Cristian Chivu’s footballing story is replete with agony, ecstasy, glorious achievements, bonds forged with team-mates, relentless grafting away, and trophy-winning celebrations. The common theme among all of the aforementioned is the Romanian’s iron will which has seen him come through proud and standing tall.
He’s the protagonist of Inter TV Careers's second episode, a show dedicated to Nerazzurri legends and broadcast on DAZN. In the latest instalment Chivu discusses his life and times prompted by a series of photos which cover his most significant moments in the beautiful game to date.
"It's the goal against Atalanta. It was a special moment; my first goal for the club. I waited a long time for it; I was desperate to open my account for Inter and it came shortly after my head injury. It was just wonderful; the way my team-mates came over and celebrated with me and how the fans cheered in the stands was quite overwhelming. When the guys came over and kissed the scar and told me how much I deserved the goal it moved me a lot.
“How did I get that scar? It came from a bad injury from which fortunately I was able to recover within a few months. I've always learned in life to take things as they come but also to know how to bounce back. At the end of the day what matters is moving on and doing your best to get back to where you were before your injury.
“I’ve been lucky to be at a club which has given me so much, starting with the president and including everyone who has worked at the club and done something to help me. I was fortunate enough to work with a coach who believed in me from the beginning, who gave me confidence, who believed my word when he had to decide upon the Champions League squad for the second half of the season at the end of January 2010, two weeks after my second operation. I asked to be included and said that in two months I would be back on the pitch. My team-mates were also crucial in my recovery. I’ll never forget these moments; they’re very much present with me.”
CHIVU'S EARLY DAYS
"When I first went to Ajax I’d just turned 18. I was abroad for the first time and there on my own; I was in an unprecedented situation and it wasn’t straightforward, yet my dream was coming true. I got the opportunity to play for a great team, to improve myself, and to learn what went on to serve me well throughout my career.
“Those were four wonderful years; I went there as a kid and left as a man. I was lucky enough to have team-mates who helped me a lot and coaches who believed in me. By being given the captain's armband I felt empowered; the club probably saw something in me that I myself was yet to be aware of. As a player I improved in many regards; Ajax teaches you a lot both on a human and professional level and nowadays as a coach I take this into my daily work."
“When I was playing for AS Roma I coincided with Francesco Totti; he’s an extraordinary guy, a leader and someone who both on and off the pitch offers so much, for what he represents both for the city and for the team. We didn’t fight over who’d take free kicks; the rules were clear. If it was a free kick that would favour a left footed player then I’d take it.
“As for my move from Amsterdam to Rome, there’s a difference in culture but going to live in Rome felt like returning to something more familiar; I felt at ease, I made many friends, and spent four wonderful years at the club, winning a Coppa Italia. I grew up a lot as a person there, too. Wherever you go as a player you have good and bad moments, you just have to know how to deal with them and focus on your objectives.”
“Dejan ‘Deki’ Stankovic is like an older brother to me. We have a close friendship which is as strong as ever; we first encountered each other as opponents but we always respected each other on the pitch. Then our paths finally crossed in the same team at Inter and a fantastic friendship was born. We support each other and our families are very close but overall as a squad we got on great with one another.”
“This is a commemorative shirt I was given after I hung up my boots. This gesture shows the club is all about making it clear that we’re part of something bigger, of a real group. I don't dwell too much about what I did as a footballer, but I can remember everything. I’ve got amazing memories but I never look too far back, I'm always focused on the present and the near future.
“As for regrets, the things I’ve done in my career I did so honouring myself, the clubs I represented, and the teams who put their faith in me which led me to making the history I went on to make. I feel blessed but I don’t spend too much time looking back because I’ve got a job at hand now which is so different from my playing days. I just don’t have the time to reminisce. I’m just focused on what I’m doing right now and I want to do the best job I can in order to pass on a message to the youngsters which they’ll take with them throughout their lives and careers.”
“We spent time together and although our paths have since separated we’ve always kept in touch. When you share memorable moments with people they then become a part of your life; achieving those goals and writing history are things which will never be forgotten.
“He told me what would happen in May, that I would be starting the cup finals. I was on the bench in Siena because he wanted me to start the Champions League final, that was what was agreed.
"He was actually prophetic, predicting: “You’ll get a yellow for fouling Arjen Robben, then in the second half I’ll move you across into the middle, and I’ll put Javier Zanetti on Robben since you’ll be on a booking. You’ll then get cramps and I’ll have to sub you off.” It was as if he’d written an Oscar-winning script.
“I’m a very passionate; I’m really emotionally involved in my players’ development. Sometimes I wish I could get my ideas across better but then I realise that it’s not straightforward, but I’m learning. The players improve me as a coach as well and that makes me feel great. I appreciate they can get that out of me but I’m aware than I can and must keep on improving.”