Giovanni Simeone: Diego's son on Napoli and his Champions League tattoo
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
"I see a lot of myself in him," says the Napoli forward of his footballing father Diego Simeone as the 27-year-old talks through his personal crusade to reach the UEFA Champions League.
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"We are a group which simply focuses on giving their very best," Argentinian forward Giovanni Simeone told UEFA.com of his Napoli side, who have hit the top of Serie A and battled their way to the UEFA Champions League round of 16, where they take on Frankfurt.
The son of Atlético coach Diego Simeone – who also played in Italy, with Pisa, Inter and Lazio – the 27-year-old Giovanni has fulfilled a lifelong ambition by playing in the Champions League this season. He talked us through his long relationship with the competition, and the tattoo that helped him to keep his focus as he followed his dream.
On his love for the Champions League
I used to watch the best games in the afternoon when I was in Argentina, obviously, because of the time difference. I used to watch all the games from the Champions League because the best players always played. I always had that passion to watch every game... but also all the interviews with the players. The first Champions League I remember perfectly was when Milan won [in 2007]. Since then, I've always been obsessed with getting to play there.
On this season at Napoli
We can rely on any player, not just the 11 on the pitch. There are many players on the bench who can come on and really make the difference, and that makes us a much more complete team. The fact that we all have the same level of motivation says a lot about the group, the manager, the players. We are all as motivated as each other, and this will help us to achieve much more.
On getting a Champions League tattoo as a youngster
I was eager to play in the Champions League so I wanted to set my objective as a promise. It was a really spur-of-the-moment thing when I said, "I want to get this tattoo because the day I get there, I'll kiss it when I score a goal." I told my mother: she gave me her permission, but my dad didn't want me to get it. He said I was crazy; he didn't believe in tattoos very much.
When I trained, I would look at my tattoo and say, "Why do I want to train? Because I want to be there," and I'd get even more motivated. That was all about motivation and having my goal there, following a dream that I didn't know if I could ever achieve. I always knew I had to work hard towards that dream to achieve it.
On what he has learned from his father
To have ambition. That is something my dad has: the desire to always achieve a goal. I didn't choose to play football because of my dad but because I'd always played since I was a kid, and I always pursued my goal, a dream that seemed difficult at the time but that I knew I could reach – and it was my dad who showed me that with his hard work.
Many say I have the same personality as him, both on and off the pitch. Someone calm, balanced, a family man off the pitch; and on the pitch, someone who gives his all, someone who has grit and courage. I see a lot of myself in him.
His best piece of advice is that until your last day playing football, you'll always learn something new. He said that to me when I arrived at Genoa. He gave me one single piece of advice. He'd never give me advice, he'd always encourage me, but the one single piece of advice he ever gave me was: until your last day of training as a footballer, you'll keep learning.