Leonardo Bonucci explained the difficulties of “accepting change” with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus and why he “would not have made certain decisions” again.
The Italy defender was speaking at the Allianz Juventus Stadium, interviewed by TEDx speaker Rudy Bandiera as part of a workshop on generational change.
“I’m starting to move across to the older side of the group now. If I think back to the Leonardo I was two or three years ago, I would not have made certain decisions,” said Bonucci.
It was during this time period that he left Juventus for Milan, an experience that lasted only one season before he returned to Turin.
“I believe the young people should accept advice from the older guys, and the older generation has to ‘steal’ some of the enthusiasm off the youth. Change is continual for us and you can never allow yourself to stop or look back at what you’ve done, otherwise, someone will come and steal your place.
“When there are changes, I try to understand, accept the foundations, elaborate it on a daily basis and then work hard. If you don’t work hard and try to understand where change will take you, then you are lost.
“That is what happened this season with the arrival of Sarri (after Max Allegri). It was a total transformation compared to the way we played before. You have to press the reset button on what you did before, because this is now very different.
“The first thing, however, is to accept the change, because what you did in your comfort zone is not the only way.”
“When so many of my former teammates started to retire, so I look at myself in the mirror. Now I am seeing players born in 1999, 2000… Fortunately, Gigi Buffon returned and now I feel young again!
“The young Leonardo was a bit too fiery. When you meet someone who gives you advice for your own good, you must have the humility to listen, maybe ask yourself a few questions.
“There is also one Leonardo on the field and he is different to the one who is off it. Over the years, you gain experience, learn from mistakes and realise some things need to change.
“There are many things I did instinctively that I wouldn’t do today. I am a little wiser now. The decision to go to Milan, as everyone knows, made me mature as a man. It was a big change and perhaps too big for the man I was at the time.
“Now I feel that I can give 100 per cent because this Leonardo has changed and can be 100 per cent in the situation.”
Bonucci is one of the best centre-backs in Italy now, but there is a very good reason why he still scores goals and provides those long passes from deep.
“I always grew up wanting to be of help to the team, providing assists as a midfielder or scoring goals as a striker. I had to reset that way of thinking and realise I could be important as a defender too.
“People call me an atypical defender and that’s because of my past, but I realised over time that I can make the difference and help my team by saving a goal too. Everyone wants to be a striker when they are 14-15…
“I watched Alessandro Nesta videos, as he had similar characteristics, studied carefully and applied myself.”