The club finally released Sandro Tonali's first interview since becoming a Newcastle United player at Friday lunchtime, here's the full transcription for your reading pleasure:
Interviewer: Sandro Tonali, welcome to the club. You are now officially a Newcastle United player. How does it feel to be here?
Tonali: I am very happy, I'm doing well. They welcomed me immediately, many players have been great. So, I think it has been since I landed, everyone welcomed me as if I had already been here for years. So, it has been a good start.
Interviewer: This transfer has been rumoured for a while now. What was your initial reaction when you found out Newcastle were displaying a strong interest in yourself?
Tonali: Today, there have been many steps, but I believe the most important one was the first one, when they communicated their interest in me. I took it very well because I knew it was something real, something concrete. So, we thought differently compared to all the other interests that arise every year. So, this is something real, and people have really shown that they want me here at all costs.
Interviewer: You joined the club from AC Milan. It's a team you won the Serie A title with, you also reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. What were the main reasons that convinced you to make the move to Newcastle?
Tonali: The journey of the Champions League with AC Milan was a path that ended with the semi-final. We started with the first year where we played for the Round of 16, then the second year we managed to win, and the third year we didn't win, but we still reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. So, the people who convinced me to come here played a fundamental part in this transfer. And then, it's a project that is emerging, that has already started, and it must be carried forward.
Interviewer: AC Milan is your boyhood club. You've been a Milanista from a young age, well-liked by the supporters, how difficult was that decision to leave given the positive spell you've had with the team?
Tonali: And yes, it was one of the most difficult decisions since I became a football player. It was difficult, but it had to be done, and the time had come to do it. So, we decided to take this new path, but it was really a very difficult decision. However, after overcoming it, I think it will definitely be an uphill road because this whole journey will be challenging. But it's an opportunity and something to try.
Interviewer: You ended AC Milan's 11-year wait for the Scudetto in the 2021/22 season. You beat Inter Milan on the final day, you went 16 league games unbeaten as well, how much did you learn about your character and your mentality in that run-in towards winning Serie A?
Tonali: In Serie A, I think it was a fantastic season. There, we all learned a lot because every match felt like a final. We couldn't afford to give up even a centimetre because we couldn't risk losing the title. So, every match had to be won to reach the end. We had about 10 matches left until the end of the league. So, it was a beautiful and competitive fight that rewarded us for the work done throughout the year.
Interviewer: At Newcastle, supporters have had to wait a lot longer for a trophy. How much are you relishing the challenge of trying to bring silverware back to Newcastle?
Tonali: Really a lot, because when a trophy hasn't come along for a long time when it happens it's even nicer. Waiting for it to happen will be tough and difficult, but when a trophy finally arrives you fully enjoy it. We will try our best to make our supporters proud and happy in every match.
Interviewer: Newcastle are set to compete in the Champions League for the first time in two decades. You're still a young player, but do you think your experiences already in this competition can help your new squad?
Tonali: The Champions League, I hope so, I believe so. Playing in the Champions League is definitely something special, and it will certainly be much more complicated because all the teams will be determined to do their best. So, we should just go out on the field as if we want to break everything, and we will certainly have a great Champions League season.
Interviewer: You had the highest amount of "big chances" created of any player in last season's Champions League. What is it about that competition in particular and those big nights that bring the best out of yourself?
Tonali: I think the Champions League brings out the best in every player. So, that should be the foundation, and it is the essence of the Champions League. There is an intensity that is very high, it's the pinnacle of football. So, all the players really feel at ease on the field. I did the same last year, we managed to play well and win every match. So, this gives you strength because winning helps you win. So, we were fortunate in this regard, it's the Champions League that gives you something more competitive.
Interviewer: People have compared you to the likes of Andrea Pirlo, a midfielder who started his career at Brescia before going on to play for Milan, another is Gennaro Gattuso, who was your football idol growing up. What are your thoughts on those comparisons?
Tonali: Now, it's been a long time since the initial comparisons, so I manage to not think about it anymore. It could hurt you at the beginning of the journey, but now so many years have passed, and I can separate things and leave them off the field. But if I had to choose a person to look up to, I would definitely say Gattuso.
Interviewer: Both of those players, they excelled on the international stage with Italy. Euro 2024 will take place next year, how determined are you to try and gain more senior caps for your country as well as hoping to feature in what would be your first major tournament?
Tonali: It's something that I would have liked to happen two years ago, but I'm definitely happy with the path I have taken so far. And I will be happy if I make it to the next European Championship. So, it's just about carrying on, match after match, this year, and then whatever needs to happen will happen. So, we just need to stay focused throughout the year and then enjoy the European Championship.
Interviewer: We're currently sat at St. James' Park. What are your first impressions of the stadium?
Tonali: I believe that seeing an empty stadium and a full stadium makes a total difference. But I have already seen some videos, I have already seen some images even here, so I truly believe it's a very warm stadium that pulls you in. And you have to be able to bring the fans into the game. So, it will be an intense and wonderful season.
Interviewer: You've played in some iconic stadiums already in your career, but how much are you looking forward to stepping out and playing at St. James' Park on a regular basis?
Tonali: It's not far off, but I know it will be a wonderful emotion. So, we are waiting for this moment, and I'm eager for it to come soon.
Interviewer: You'll be meeting your new manager, Eddie Howe. How much are you looking forward to working with him? How much do you think he can develop your game further?
Tonali: I'm very curious because he's one of those people who wanted me here. So, I hope to meet him as soon as possible today, and I can't wait to start this journey together with him.
Interviewer: You're joining Newcastle on a long-term deal. The club have big ambitions themselves. What are your main ambitions during your stay here?
Tonali: All the ambitions of the players, I believe, are to reach a team and win. So, I think the first thing we need to do is establish ourselves and then aim to win. That's the goal for all of us, to try to win as soon as possible.
Interviewer: It's certainly a positive time to be joining Newcastle. How excited are you to get started and meet up with your new teammates in the upcoming weeks?
Tonali: A lot, because I knew I was coming to play here, and maybe I have to wait 10, 15, 20 days before meeting new teammates. It's a bit annoying. So, I hope to come here and start as soon as possible, also because I have to catch up a bit with the language, so it won't be an easy thing, but it's part of the journey that I have to undertake.
And here's the full interview, courtesy of NUFC TV:
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