Star striker Gonzalo Higuaín talks transfers – from River Plate to Real Madrid, then from Napoli to Juventus – while also revealing his ambitions for the remainder of the season with Juve.
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What was it like to sign for Real Madrid as a teenager?
I joined when I was very young. I'd barely had two full seasons in Argentina and signing for a club of that stature was unbelievable. At River, we had players like Francescoli, Crespo, Aimar and Saviola, some great role models. But then I joined a really big, world-renowned club with so many league titles and European Cups. I was supported by my family, particularly my father, who travelled with me and had complete confidence in me.
He asked if I was sure about going and said that if I did then I had to give it my best shot. I was going to train and compete with fantastic players who'd won so much, but I had to feel I was at their level. I had to respect them but feel I belonged. I've always said that playing and competing with the best improves you. The most important thing is believing in yourself.
How would you reflect on your time at Madrid?
It was a crazy period and everything happened so fast. It was a massive decision to take at that age, but I'm so grateful to Real Madrid for giving me the opportunity and putting faith in me. I got to spend seven years in a beautiful city, at a fantastic club. It was a wonderful experience.
Last summer you changed clubs again, moving from Napoli to Juventus …
When Juventus signed me, having met my release clause, it was a tough decision. I've explained the reason many times – and I'm very happy with the decision I made. I've met good people with that winning mentality and I think that's what's kept Juve at the top for so long. Joining such a successful club was part of the challenge I wanted: I came to help the club continue on that path.
How would you compare Italian football with Spanish?
Italian football is very tough – it always has been – whereas Spanish football is more open. The Italian national team have always had that aggressive style, with players that love to battle and have good technique. Games are harder here and there aren't as many high-scoring matches as in Spain. More hard work goes into the defensive side.
How do you think Barcelona will approach the quarter-final after their comeback against Paris Saint-Germain?
Football is so changeable, and a team that everyone thought was knocked out went through to the quarters. They'll be full of confidence. Barça had an off-day [in Paris] and I don't think they'll have another quite like that. We have home advantage first and want to get a good result to give ourselves a real chance in Barcelona. We won't be able to take our foot off the gas, not even for a split-second.
Could this be the year Juve take that next step in the UEFA Champions League, having lost the 2015 final?
I hope so. That's why I came here. We're also going for our sixth consecutive Scudetto and the Coppa Italia, all big targets. Winning six Scudettos in a row would be unprecedented; likewise winning the Coppa Italia for a third straight year would also be something no other team has achieved. Of course, the Champions League is a dream we want to make reality, but we can't discount the other two.