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Retiring Italy great Giorgio Chiellini on signing off from football in the Finalissima against Argentina – interview

"I feel happy with what I achieved and a little bit of pride," says the Italy defender as he prepares to hang up his boots after the Finalissima meeting with Argentina.

Giorgio Chiellini in training ahead of his 117th and final Italy game
Giorgio Chiellini in training ahead of his 117th and final Italy game Getty Images

Having said farewell to his club in May, Giorgio Chiellini is preparing to make his 117th and final international as European champions Italy take on South American counterparts Argentina in the inaugural Finalissima at Wembley.

Twice a UEFA Champions League runner-up with Juventus, the central defender reached a footballing peak last summer as he captained the Azzurri to glory at the finals of UEFA EURO 2020. As he prepares to return to the scene of that final triumph, the 37-year-old told UEFA.com about how it feels to be saying goodbye.

Messi, Jorginho, Di María, Chiellini and more: Finalissima

On signing off from international football in the Finalissima

It's beautiful. Argentina have exceptional players. It's obvious that the first one who comes to your mind is [Lionel] Messi but the others around him are fantastic – they didn't win [the Copa América] by accident.

[Messi is] a football icon. It's not for me to say if he is the greatest of all time or not. It will just be a pleasure to play my last game for the national team against him. I was lucky to face him on several occasions and luckily it has often gone well. Combating great players like him is down to luck: if he and his team get it right on the day, they are unstoppable.

How brilliant is Giorgio Chiellini?
The moment Italy lifted EURO trophy

On his Italy career

It has been, without a doubt, better than I could ever have imagined. When you're a kid, you dream of playing for the national team, because that's the ultimate. The thought of being able to play more than 100 games over the course of 18 years, being captain, and lifting an important cup like I did last year at Wembley was the icing on the cake.

I hope [the fans will] remember me as a good person. A person who personified [certain] values. On the pitch I have my strengths and weaknesses, and some will remember both. In the long run, you'll always remember the nicer things, that's normal.

Finalissima: What to look out for
 Chiellini celebrates winning the U19 EURO with Italy 2003
Chiellini celebrates winning the U19 EURO with Italy 2003AFP via Getty Images

On what he will miss about football

I'll miss the dressing room the most. First I was young, now I'm more mature. But I have fun with the young guys. They give me energy and I feel really good sharing the dressing room with them. Of course, off the pitch we have completely different lives because of the age difference. But also because of the energy and the light-heartedness which they have. I'll definitely miss all these dynamics.

What would I say to my younger self? Always work with passion, try to get better and have fun. It's a job, but it's the best hobby and fun a kid can dream of. There always has to be a balance in everything, in life and in football. Only if there is balance, and you're able to manage things in the right way and at the right time, can you make the mistakes a young guy will make.

Chiellini meets fans after his final Juventus game
Chiellini meets fans after his final Juventus gameJuventus FC via Getty Images

On how he will feel at full-time

I just experienced it with Juventus, so I more or less know what to expect. It's a second closure; these have been the two loves of my life, two great love stories. I have played for Juventus for 17 years and 18 years for the national team – they have been a big part of my life.

I'm at peace. I feel happy with what I achieved and a little bit of pride for what I achieved in my career. But more than that, I am proud of the core values that I've passed on, and of the affection that people I've met from 2004 – or even 1999 with the Under-15s – until now have for me.