SPAL are two points clear of the drop zone in Serie A, as they host Frosinone on Sunday in a will have to-win clash. Captain Mirco Antenucci is confident his side can realize security and continue to ball in Italy’s leading flight, right after becoming 1 of the most impressive sides of the final two seasons.

Antenucci is proud of what SPAL have accomplished in current occasions, and proud of his personal progress also, becoming 1 of the essential players in Italian football at the age of 34, as effectively as assisting SPAL to their very first promotion to Serie A in 49 years and captaining them to an unexpected security.

Following two effective campaigns at Leeds United, also becoming the club’s leading scorer in 2014/15, Antenucci scored 11 objectives in 2017/18, becoming a essential man in SPAL’s season, and establishing himself as a prolific Serie A finisher.

Forza Italian Football sat down with former Leeds striker, who spoke about his achievements at SPAL, his time in England and the variations amongst Italian and English football, as effectively as explaining how the language barrier can be an concern, even for Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.

What does it imply for you to have develop into a essential player in Serie A at a comparatively old age?

“It tends to make me proud to feel of what we’ve accomplished right here at SPAL in two years. A thing like this was unthinkable. In the course of our very first year in Serie B we managed one thing extraordinary, right after numerous numerous years the club got back into Serie B, then to Serie A, and then we avoided relegation. It was complicated, but we earned it. We had two fantastic seasons, and hope to continue with a third.

“When you develop into older you feel a bit a lot more, you reflect on points a lot more, you get to know your physique improved. All of which are a quantity of points that can assist you. It occurred to me, and expertise has played a essential function. But the principal factor that matters is hunger and motivation.”

What does it imply for you to be the captain of SPAL?

“It indicates I want to show I’m accountable, it tends to make me proud. I am accountable for the group of players. But I often attempt and be myself, assisting the teammates, providing tips, becoming an intermediary amongst the directors and the players, when required. On leading of every little thing, I attempt to be myself and to be often 100 % expert.”

What’s your partnership like with the players? Have you bonded effectively with any person in certain?

“I have a fantastic partnership with absolutely everyone in the altering space, but it is typical to have some mates, regardless of the operate location. The lads with whom I’ve bonded most are Filippo Costa, Mariano Arini – who left right after the year in Serie B, [Francesco] Vicari, [Manuel] Lazzari, and a small with absolutely everyone else.”

How a lot have SPAL enhanced, and how a lot improved can the group get?

“We have changed a lot more than the years. We nonetheless have a strong group of 5 or six players who have been right here considering that the days in Serie B, but each and every year we’ve had some alterations. It is a distinctive group of players, but united in wanting the very same factor, and this can be decisive in becoming effective.”

Had been you hoping to be additional up the table right after that fantastic start off to the season? Probably the victory on the road against Roma got you a small more than excited?

“Our aim has often been to stay in Serie A. Final year we managed to receive it on the final day of the season, and I feel it is typical to be prepared to boost a small each and every year. Our objective is nonetheless the very same, but of course if we can handle it, with a small significantly less of a struggle that would be improved. But this league is complicated, quite complicated, and we just have to remain up, 1 way or a further.”

How emotional is it to play at the Stadio Paolo Mazza?

“Our fans are often decisive for us. The stadium has been enhanced in current years and it is now an English style stadium. Our supporters are add worth, each residence and away. They adhere to us everywhere, and they make us proud.”

Inform us about coach Leonardo Semplici? Do you see him at a larger club someday?

“We have a excellent partnership. His employees are quite knowledgeable, they are excellent. They often place in the highest quantity of work and attempt and get us in the very best situation to carry out. They have enhanced in the previous years as effectively. I want the very best for Semplici in his profession, but at the moment he has one thing to do right here, and that is to attain security.”

What about you? Do you just have SPAL on your thoughts?

“I’m also just considering about reaching security as rapidly as achievable. SPAL is a second residence to me, and as I often say, I really like it right here.”

What about your time at Leeds United? What went effectively, what didn’t? You scored a lot, so did you ever feel about staying?

“I had a fantastic time in England. I didn’t remain simply because I wasn’t presented a new contract. I had some presents from a further two clubs in England, but decided I wanted to come back to Italy. But I will have to say that with them, the fans, the men and women of Leeds, I left on fantastic terms. I hold them in fantastic esteem, and I’m positive they do the very same with me. I got to play for, and get to know, a quite prestigious club, and I am delighted and proud to have carried out so. I am proud to have been element of that club. I assistance SPAL, but also Leeds. They’re getting a fantastic season and I hope their dreams can come accurate.”

What are the principal variations amongst England and Italy? Any difficulty with the English language?

“The principal distinction is that each and every group often has a complete property, in fantastic stadia. And all clubs have quite effectively organised and modern day instruction grounds. Not numerous clubs in Italy have the very same. The football culture is distinctive. They learnt from the blunders of the previous, when they had violent supporters, they changed some points and now football culture in England is superior to that in Italy. Italy must adhere to England as an instance. In terms of each day life, it is fairly a lot the very same factor.

“With regards to the language, it was complicated initially, in particular in the altering space, as there have been numerous Italians. I then had my two daughters in the two years I spent there, so I didn’t get out a lot. I feel the very best way to understand a language is to be in make contact with with men and women, and reside the city. My English is currently a lot worse now. Of course, I can say ‘man on’ and all the points that are required in football.”

Would you go abroad once more?

“I do not know, when you have two modest daughters, your very first believed is them. Let’s see. I nonetheless have a further year on my contract right here at SPAL, and I really like it. Let’s not speak about the future just but.”

What about Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea? Can language be a barrier? Does absolutely everyone want to be a lot more patient with him?

“The players surely want to be a lot more patient, they have to realize that a coach, who has come from a further nation, wants some time. It is typical that a coach wants to be understood, as the players have to adhere to his concept of how to play, and what to do on the pitch. So language can be a decisive issue for an individual who wants to communicate.”