MILAN - Before leaving with the Italy squad for the Under-21 European Championship in Holland, Inter defender Marco Andreolli was interviewed by Radio MilanInter.
Andreolli, what's the atmosphere like in the Under-21 national team? What are your expectations for this European Championship?
"The atmosphere is excellent. We have spent a good week together preparing in Coverciano. We have worked hard and we're very hopeful for this European Championship. We start as one of the favourites and we all want to do well and get the best possible result."
Where and why did you start playing football? And what are your expectations?
"I started playing with my friends when I was little, to have fun together and run after a ball. I started playing for an oratory team in Padova, and after that I played for all the Padova academy teams up to the Allievi, then Inter bought me and I came to Milan. I'm very happy about this."
What were your first feelings when, as a very young player, you entered a dressing room with great champions like Javier Zanetti, Ivan Cordoba and Marco Materazzi?
"The feelings I felt, and that I still feel now, are extraordinary. I have been an Inter fan since I was a boy and I come from a family that has always had Inter in its heart. To have arrived here and wear this shirt is unique for me. And it's even more unique to have won the Scudetto as a player-fan. I was two years old when Inter won the Scudetto with Trapattoni, then I saw my team win a few UEFA Cups, so think what it means for me to become Italian champion with this shirt... It's hard to find the words to describe these sensations."
Inter Primavera also won the Scudetto this year. You played a few matches for them.
"They might not have been the favourites, but the boys gave their all. I only played a few games with them but I could still see that they improved a lot over the season, both individually and as a team. They are a strong team, compact and united. This was the key to winning the title."
What did a youngster like Andreolli, who started playing football in an oratory, think of the Calciopoli scandal?
"I always tried to think about my team. I don't want to give any opinions, but it was certainly a bad thing for Italian football. I have always gone on the pitch to give my best, without thinking there was anything bad below it all. I have always thought positively and I like to see football as a game and in a clean way."
Roberto Mancini has always had great faith in your ability, and has always spoken highly of you. What do you think you will do next season?
"I have a very long contract with Inter, until 2011, and I'm very pleased about this, but to improve it's important to play and also make mistakes when you're playing. This is a bit harder at Inter, with all the champions there are in my position. First I want to concentrate on doing my best at this Under-21 European Championship, and then I will talk with Inter and together we will see what to do."
Which players of the past and the present fascinate you most?
"As a defender and an Inter fan I have always had great admiration for Bergomi and Ferri. Currently, I have been lucky enough to train with and admire every day an extraordinary champion like Ibrahimovic. Also, I have always been an Inter fan, but as a boy I really liked Marco Van Basten because he was a great champion who had my same Christian name."