|Ciro Immobile with the Golden Shoe (Photo: ESM)|
– It took a while, but you finally received the Golden Shoe...
– I had to wait, and that's fine. The point is that I have it now," said Ciro Immobile while smiling. Immobile earned the European Golden Shoe for scoring 36 goals in Serie A last season, ahead of Robert Lewandowski (34 goals, Bayern München) and Cristiano Ronaldo (31 goals, Juventus).
– You are only the third Italian after Luca Toni and Francesco Totti. After a Romanista, a Laziale couldn't be missing, could he?
– Correct (laughs). Both are world champions and were extraordinary players, which makes me immensely proud to follow their names. Also, to see my name among all these great footballers who won before me.
– Was it also a response to a lot of criticism you had to take in your career?
– Maybe you could call it a kind of revenge. Not against anyone personally, though. In football, everyone gets their moment, and last season I got mine.
– At the moment, though, it's not a good moment for anyone in the world. How did you experience the COVID year?
– It was a difficult period for everyone, including me. I miss the social life, the meetings with friends or my family, whom I used to see much more often.
– And what is COVID football like?
– It gives you back less than you're used to. With the fans, the most important thing of all is missing: the passion, the emotion, the roar in the stadium after a goal, celebrating a victory with the fans. All that is terribly missing. That's why I dedicate this award not only to the club and my teammates, but also to the tifosi.
– More time at home, have you discovered new passions?
– Above all, cooking and gardening at home. And dancing with my wife and children. Cooking, gardening, dancing - that keeps me going (laughs).
– At the age of 17, you left your home in the south, Torre Annunziata, near Naples, to join Juventus in Turin – a radical change.
– That was a difficult transition between two completely different realities. At the time, I was young and full of dreams of making it to Serie A. To do that, you have to make sacrifices and have an absolute love for calcio. I worked hard to make it to the Golden Shoe. I know that many youngsters have these dreams but are going through a difficult time right now. Grit your teeth, don't give up! Everyone has a chance to realise their dream.
– Is it true that your mother once came to Turin with strong words after the change?
– Oh yes. I think it was my birthday and she said: "Hurry up and come back home. What are you doing here in Turin? (laughs) Luckily, I didn't listen to mum for once.
– You come from a devout family. Have you kept your faith until today?
– Definitely. A month ago, I had a private audience with the Pope together with the President Claudio Lotito. A very emotional day for me.
Ciro Immobile scored his first Italian topflight goal for Genoa in the 2012–13 season when Dániel Tőzsér was also his teammate. For this reason, we contacted DVSC's sports director to see how he remembers the striker at the beginning of his career at the time.
"He was like a peg top," Daniel Tőzsér said, laughing at what first came to mind about his former teammate. “He's the type that's once coiled up sprints all day. How should I put it? He's not the kind of person who complicates things. When we were fighting relegation, everyone was excited, the stress took a toll on the community, but Ciro wasn't too nervous. He's positive, he's looking for the good in everything, and what comes to mind is that he has always really believed in himself. Even when things weren't going well, he wasn't in despair, he kept doing his job with a smile. Well, I didn't think he would get this high, but it looked like he could be successful because of his excellent skills. As in life, he sought simple solutions on the field as well. He can handle a lot of situations with power, he's purposeful on and off the field. It's good to see him score goals for Lazio; he's improved a lot. He did well that he believed in himself so much.”
(Zs. S., translated by Vanda Orosz)
– And what did he tell you?
– He liked the fact that I have three children. He likes big families and told me to have more children.
– You have enough time at home at the moment...
– Yes, I'd better not refuse the Pope a wish.
– Eight clubs in eight years, now with Lazio continuously since 2016. What made you decide to put down roots here?
– We are all around happy in Rome. My family loves it here, and with the club and coach Simone Inzaghi we've been building a project together for years that has brought us many successes. And we want to work on more.
– At Lazio, you had to fill the legacy of your predecessor Miroslav Klose...
– That was incredibly difficult, because Miro was an idol here. The situation was a little reminiscent of Dortmund when I succeeded Robert Lewandowski. It's impossible to replace such exceptional players, you can only try to find your own successful path.
– Well, you have overtaken Klose in terms of goals.
– I don't like these comparisons. Besides, Miro wasn't at Lazio as long as I am.
– You were talking about Dortmund. The experiences abroad weren't so sparkling, were they?
– They weren't as bad as they are often made out to be. I took a lot away from Germany and Spain. Experiencing other cultures and ways of thinking is always a helpful learning process, both personally and football wise. Even if things didn't go optimally in sporting terms.
– You got to know many interesting and different coaching personalities. How did you experience JÃ¼rgen Klopp, for example?
– Fighting spirit. The will to fight for every ball burned into you from his eyes when he spoke to you. That was impressive.
– Thomas Tuchel?
– I didn't work with him that long, but he seemed meticulously detailed. An "Italian" coach, if you will.
– Zdenek Zeman?
– A fast-paced, endless "attack, attack, attack". That brought me my first title as top scorer - in Serie B 2011/12 at Pescara. By the way, in a team with Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti.
– You work under Roberto Mancini in the national team. Before he took over, you missed the last World Cup...
– ... one of the darkest and most disappointing moments of my career. As is often the case in life, we learned our lessons from it so that such a disappointment would not happen again. Under Mancini, we have been doing a fantastic job since 2018 and the results speak for themselves. You can feel that the tifosi are excited about Italy again.
– How do you rate the new generation for the Azzurri after a long dry spell?
– We really have a very strong team with many youngsters who are ready for the national team. This team has great prospects.
– Is that enough for the upcoming European Championship?
– We are very optimistic, and the group matches will take place here in Rome, which gives us additional motivation.
– However, you yourself have only scored ten goals in 42 games. That's a bit low, isn't it?
– Apparently, I've scored so many at the club that I'd used up my powder with the Azzurri (laughs). It's true, I do have to work on my scoring rate.
– And what is your next personal goal besides the EURO?
– To win another Golden Shoe (smiles).