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Double success gives Varga reason to smile

Juventus's Scudetto triumph and his country's debut UEFA European Under-17 Championship triumph meant the Bianconeri's Slovakia defender Atila Varga ended Sunday with a smile.

Slovakia celebrate their late goal in the victory against Austria
Slovakia celebrate their late goal in the victory against Austria ©Sportsfile

Both club and country gave Atila Varga the chance to enjoy his Sunday. After helping Slovakia win their first ever UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals game under the sun in Dubnica nad Vahom, the Juventus defender's day was given added shine when he received word from Italy that the Bianconeri had also secured victory, and with it, the Scudetto.

"I was on the phone to my team-mates. They were celebrating in the city. I was celebrating with the boys in Slovakia. I was twice as happy as my team-mates here and in Turin," the unassuming 17-year-old centre-back, who underpinned the 1-0 Group A success against Austria, told UEFA.com. "I really enjoyed the game. We believed we would score right up to the last minute, and that is what we achieved."

Born in the eastern Slovak town of Trebisov, Varga's first footsteps in football were made at nearby MFK Zemplín Michalovce. Spotted by Juventus, the next leap in the defender's career initially proved more testing for the young man, who like his compatriot, SSC Napoli's Marek Hamšík, has sought to further his career in the land of calcio.

"I am satisfied there. The management, the coaching staff, everybody behaves very professionally. I am really enjoying my time at Juventus," said Varga, who names Slovakia's senior captain Martin Škrtel and a former Serie A star, Brazilian Thiago Silva, as his role models.

"It was difficult at the beginning, to leave home at the age of 16, not speaking the language, but now it is easier. I can speak Italian, I have made friends there and got used to life in Italy as well. Sometimes, of course, I miss my family, but that is the life of a professional footballer. You have to adapt to conditions abroad."

Given his assured display against Austria, it is perhaps little surprise Varga has found his feet in Italy. A member of the Allievi Nazionali squad, the teenager sees his future mapped out in black and white, particularly with Paul Pogba, three years Varga's senior, proving young talent will be allowed to shine at Juve.

"I train with the first team from time to time. Pogba is a great, talented guy. All the players in the first team support us a lot, and of course, seeing players like Pogba playing for the first team gives me hope that if I work hard and do my best, I have a decent chance to make it to the first team. It is encouraging."