In his most recent interview, Goran Pandev reveals that Genoa will be his last Italian club and that his goal this season is to win the Italian Cup trophy.
Goran Pandev returned to Italy this summer after a tumultuous year in Turkey. He already played in two games for Genoa before the international break commenced at the beginning of September. He used some of the down time to be interviewed by “La Gazzetta dello Sport.” The original version, in Italian, can be seen here. Below is an English translation (questions in bold).
Pandev began by saying, “If I look back, everything happened at the right moment. Lazio was my chance to become a name, Inter was the team where I returned after being constantly courted. At Napoli, the football meant passion, something that I needed in order to start over after winning the treble. Genoa has many things in common with what I experienced in Naples. That includes the same passion among the people, but also knowing that I was wanted there for a long time.”
The president of Genoa, Enrico Preziosi, unsuccessfully tried to sign you since 2011, but you decided to go in different directions in those times. “I said yes to Napoli, I was happy to go there and I had a great time under [Walter] Mazzarri and [Rafa] Benitez. I did what I had to do in that period. Genoa is an important place with fantastic fans. I have to thank Preziosi and [Gian Piero] Gasperini because they wanted me. After only two months in Genoa, my family has already settled nicely. This is a marvelous city, the stadium [Luigi] Ferraris and the Nord [where the ultras stand] are wonderful. They wanted me to come in January, but I failed to get out of Galatasaray. Now, I am here because I gave my word that I would come in the summer. It will be my last club in Italy.”
After winning the treble with Inter, Mourinho once said: You simply can’t sell someone like Pandev. “I do remember that. He referred to something particular. I played several positions, spots where Mourinho wanted me to play, but that’s how it is done. You always must be available to the needs of the team. However, many things have changed. Star players used to play in Italy. Juventus, Inter and Milan were the strongest teams. After a period of decline, the most prestigious clubs have started to spend money again, there is a strong need for Inter and Milan to be competitive again, it’s good for the league. Is Juve going backwards? I don’t really think that, although there will probably be more equality between the teams. Roma has made good transfers, Inter was strengthened.”
The secret to your success was the “feeling” with the coaches. Delio Rossi is an example, right? “That’s the way victories arise. Things were great with Rossi at Lazio, because the conditions were in place to be successful. The Treble with Mourinho was a result of a fantastic group, the class of the players, the great manager, as well as some good luck. Otherwise, it would have been impossible. Inter made changes after that year. I tried to find new challenges. I won the Club World Cup with Benítez. Then came the Coppa Italia at Napoli: winning there tastes different.”
A big issue these days are the migrants from Syria. But since 2011 you help in your hometown: “In Strumica, where I live in Macedonia, I run a football school for about 300 kids. I’m not looking for a new star, I just want to entertain the youngsters. It is better to run with a ball then to go in God knows what direction. Clubs like Bayern and Real Madrid are making initiatives and important contributions for the Syrian refugees, but I believe that even the Serie A should step in to help.”
What do you know of Gasperini? “His career speaks for itself, but his way of training really struck me. He places a lot of trust in the important players and does a great job of discovering new talents. I put myself completely in his disposal. And he pushed me hard for two months, I lost 5 kilos. But that’s good because I worked less in the last two years. Before, when my teams were in the Champions League, I had a game every third day. And then it went downhill in Turkey as the trainings there are not like here.”
Do you have a wish to fulfill with Genoa? “I would like to win a trophy, the Coppa Italia to be more precise, as I did with Lazio, Inter and Napoli. But something that I’m pretty sure in is that we will have fun this season. I will reveal something, for some time I haven’t felt all the emotions that I felt when I played against Verona (first home game). These people are special, I have to make them happy.”
If Pandev really wins a trophy with Genoa, he will cement a place in the club’s history. Keep in mind that Genoa’s last trophy came in the 1936-37 season when they won their one and only Coppa Italia silverware. Meanwhile, Genoa is the fourth most successful club in Serie A with 9 titles, but all of them came in the period from 1898 to 1924.