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Chiellini recalls Champions League pain

Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini revealed Monday the pain of two Champions League final defeats as he looked back on his long career on Monday with the Turin giants.

Chiellini, 33, said he had felt pride at replacing Pavel Nedved on his debut 12 years ago to the day, as the Turin side prepare to face Sporting Lisbon in this year’s Champions League campaign midweek.

“In 2015 and 2017, we were so close to winning the treble, and when one thinks about it again, there remains some disappointment for having only just missed out,” said Chiellini, who has won 94 caps for Italy.

“Nonetheless, we’re also aware of the fact that we achieved something very special indeed.”

The Italian has made 442 appearances for Juventus, scored 34 goals and won 12 titles with the six-time reigning champions.

“I was full of emotion on the day (debut). I’d arrived two months earlier, but – as happens with all young players who arrive at the club – I needed a bit of time to work my way into a team that was brimming with champions,” Chiellini told the club’s in-house TV.

“Just think that in that match, I came on for Ballon d’Or winner and current Juventus vice-president, Pavel Nedved.

“The emotions that I felt that night in Trieste were as amazing in terms of intensity, as the Champions League defeats in Berlin and Cardiff were painful.

“It was the crowning moment of an incredible year in which we overtook Milan in the table and ended up going the whole season unbeaten.

“The sheer explosion of joy at the final whistle was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever experienced.”

A day after Juventus suffered their first defeat at home in two years, falling 2-1 to Lazio in Serie A, Chiellini also recalled his pride at winning the Italian Cup title in 2015.

“That Coppa Italia final against Lazio was a really special match because I scored the opener and dedicated the goal to my daughter, who was born just a few months later.

“It was the first time that I won silverware while wearing the captain’s armband and that too meant a lot to me.

“This was also the first trophy of three consecutive double-winning seasons – the start of an extraordinary achievement that we were all dreaming of at the time.”

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