Matteo Darmian in action during an Italy international match.

My Home Country: What Italy means to Darmian

The Manchester United squad comprises 13 different nationalities, but how much do you know about the places our overseas stars come from? To kick off our ‘My Home Country’ series, Matteo Darmian flies the flag for Italy, recommends where Reds supporters should visit and pays tribute to his idol...

Firstly Matteo, what makes you so proud to be Italian?
“I am very proud of my country. When I go away, a lot of people think Italy is just about pasta or pizza. It is funny, but it is something good that we have - I mean the food is very good. I am very proud to be Italian. I love my country. I can say that it is one of the best in the world. We have history, we have nice cities, we have the sea, the mountains, I think we have everything. I love it. If you go to Rome it is incredible, Venice is incredible, Florence as well. We have a lot of cities with a lot of history.”

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Matteo Darmian
Matteo Darmian explains his passion for Italy in our new 'My Country and Me' series.
What was it like growing up in Italy?
“I grew up in a little city close to Milan and of course Milan is a big city. Milan offers everything you need. I grew up like every kid and of course my family tried to give me everything that I needed.”

Where are the places that United fans must visit?
“Oh, it is difficult to choose just three or four cities or places to go. Of course it depends on what they want to do. If they want to just go there to relax, of course I can say Sardinia for the sea. But if you want to go around and look at the history, I can mention Rome, Florence, Venice. Of course in the winter if you want to go skiing, we have a lot of places to go. Like a place in the north of Italy such as Cortina.”


Which is your favourite Italian food?

“You know, in Italy we have different food for every region so you have to try everything but I know that is difficult. My personal preference is lasagne and of course pizza.”

Matteo Darmian says

"I can say that it is one of the best [countries] in the world. We have history, we have nice cities, we have the sea, the mountains, I think we have everything. I love it."

Is it hard to resist Italian food when you go home?
“When I go home it is because I am on a break so I can eat everything! [laughs] For a short time I eat all I can and what I want. Then, before I come back, I start again with the regular diet and I am ready again.”

 
Here’s a tough question: who is the greatest Italian footballer of all time?
“We've had a lot of great footballers in Italy and, of course, for my age, my idol was Paolo Maldini and he still is my idol now. I think he is one of the best footballers in history and I had the possibility to play with him. I can say that he is not just a great footballer but I think he is also a great person.”
Matteo Darmian says

"We've had a lot of great footballers in Italy and, of course, for my age my idol was Paolo Maldini and he still is now. I think he is one of the best footballers in history."

After idolising Maldini for so long, what was it like to play with him? 
“For me it was unbelievable. You are thinking he is an idol and superstar who you will never meet in your life. When you realise that you play with him, it is unbelievable and every day I tried to see him. When you pass 30, you have to be smart and you have to play with experience. Of course everybody knows his quality as a player, but his mentality was fantastic and absolutely outstanding.”

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