Giorgio Chiellini has admitted he can be an “asshole” on the football pitch, but he doesn’t think he is a bad person.
In an upcoming autobiography, Chiellini discusses an incident in 2013 where he broke the leg of Catania forward Gonzalo Bergessio with a scything tackle from behind.
At the time, the Juventus defender protested the referee’s decision to give him a yellow card, though he says he apologised profusely to the former Argentina international after the severity of the injury became apparent.
“I can be an asshole, yes, but a bad person? No – even if I did someone harm,” Chiellini writes, as he confirmed to La Repubblica.
“On Bergessio, in 2013, I made a reckless tackle and I was so sorry. I told him I was sorry a thousand times but I couldn't give him back the piece that I broke.
“He stayed out for three months and when he came back, he started a manhunt against me – until he was sent off for elbowing me.
“Regardless, even in an adrenaline-fuelled trance I never said to myself, 'Now I'm going in and I'm going to hurt him'.”
Chiellini has recently recovered from a serious injury of his own, returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament shortly before the Serie A season was suspended.
Whenever the campaign can be resumed – or whenever the next season begins – Chiellini will likely be lining up alongside Bergessio’s fellow Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain.
The defensive veteran admits he wasn’t always fond of Higuain, but he has warmed to him since he joined from Napoli in 2016.
“Have I ever hated anyone? Higuain - but he surprised me after getting to know him,” he wrote.
“No.9s are selfish, they do a different job, but he has a generous, playful side.
“He's a demanding guy because you have to be pamper him, motivate him.
“He needs affection to feed the incredible potential he has.”
Chiellini certainly hasn’t held back about those players he perhaps didn’t get to know so well.
He said that Mario Balotelli “deserved a slap” for his conduct on international duty with Italy, called Felipe Melo “the worst of the worst” and claimed it was “impossible not to hate” Juve’s rivals Inter.