There is so much that I am already thankful for, like my time at Atalanta. It is a serious club, a club that helps you to grow as a player, and today I am proud to have played for them. I can tell anyone that I am a product of the best youth set-up in Italy. Atalanta is a unique club, it is set up to work hard, to take you seriously, and today I am happy to be able to say that I have been part of a club like Atalanta.
I loved my time in the youth system there, and I was fortunate enough to score on my senior debut under Gian Piero Gasparini, who was a hard taskmaster but had a lot of belief in me. I think I came on against Udinese in the 79th minute for Josip Ilicic. Before going on, Gasparini gave me a lot of strength and inspiration, he said: “Go on Amad, do what you always do.”
So I was really confident when I went on and, when I got that ball, I could only shoot because there was no-one I could have given the ball to and I couldn’t have crossed it. So I just had a shot and I saw it hit the back of the net. It was in front of our fans and it was an unbelievable feeling.
That word again, unbelievable! That’s how it felt when the biggest club in England said they wanted to sign me.
I am so happy to be here now in Manchester. This is an ambitious club, a club which always wants to be at the very top, a club which is very important for my growth and development. I have only been here a few months but, from what I have seen so far, the impression I have is very positive.
The main difference between here and Atalanta is that I would say that training is more physical here. There is more focus on ball control and other things there. I think I am improving more as a footballer compared to Italy. But since I was at Atalanta, I think that I had a good football education because I came through the best youth set-up in Italy. Gasparini was a tough taskmaster so, before coming here, I had already made some progress.
There is certainly a big similarity between the two clubs, since they both give a lot of opportunities to young players. When I made my Premier League debut against Leicester, the forward three was me, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga: two 18-year-olds and one 19-year-old! It’s hard to get your head around such a young forward line, but it just goes to show that this club believes in young players. It gives you time to develop and when the club sees you are coming on in training, doing well and following what they tell you to do, you then get given the opportunities you want.
I play here like I played in Italy. Obviously, coaches set up teams in different ways but playing wide-right here, having freedom, having to attack and defend. In Italy it is a case of go and attack but then defend and it is the same here. I see myself more as a wide-right player, but I have always said that, in football, you should never have a preferred position. Okay, perhaps you have a preference, but you should be ready for anything. I have played wide left, wide right, and I have played through the middle, so all of the positions are the same to me. If the coach tells me to play in a specific position, there will be a reason for that. I will not argue, I will just play in that position. If I really have to say a favourite position, I would say wide-right, because, from there, I can dribble and carry the ball deep into the opposition’s half. So I guess it is the position I like best, but I have to be ready for everything.