Marco Verratti: "It was very hard to leave my family, my friends"

Italy Training Session & Press Conference
Italy Training Session & Press Conference / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

PSG legend and Italy international Marco Verratti talked to France Football in an interview published this weekend. Verratti, who recently played his 400th game in the Rouge et Bleu jersey earlier this year, recently extended his contract with Paris Saint-Germain until the summer of 2026.

Verratti is approaching the record held by Jean-Marc Pilorget (435) as the footballer with the most games played while dressed in PSG's threads and he could break that mark as early as next season if he can stay healthy.

Here are some excerpts of what Verratti told France Football in his recent interview with the outlet, in which the midfielder reviewed his career to date.

Asked about his arrival in Paris and at PSG along with otherworldly talent Zlatan Ibrahimovic...

"I arrived in the year when PSG recruited big stars. I was a little kid who came from Pescara. I never played soccer to become a character or for money, but just for fun."

"The best way to show that was on the field, not anywhere else. So it wasn't a big deal (to arrive in the same market as Zlatan). We had a good laugh."

About the difficulties to adapt and integrate into a new country in France...

"My brother left everything in Italy to come with me."

"I didn't have a driver's license, I couldn't even cook a pasta dish. He was very important."

"There are also (former PSG players) Lavezzi, Ibra, Maxwell... They immediately embraced me as their little brother. They took me to training sessions, I spent afternoons at their place, and evenings, we ate at the restaurant together."

"I tried to install a big satellite dish on my terrace to follow the Pescara matches. In four hours, [authorities] made me remove it. I quickly changed my apartment to a house where I could install it."

About what surprises him the most about France...

"One thing I hated at first, but I really like it now, is that people are "cold"."

"When you make a friend in Paris, it's a real friend. In Italy, you have a lot of "friends."

"I almost never go to Milan. But, every time I go there, I meet a lot of people who say, 'Oh, my friend!', 'How are you, my friend?'. It seems like we're all friends, but in the end, if you need someone, there aren't many people left."

"In France, I have three or four real friends. And, if anything happens, at any time of the night, I know I can call them and they will be there for me. Not because I'm Marco Verratti and I play soccer (but on a personal level)."

About whether or not his relationship with France football has grown into a love affair...

"It was very hard (for me) to leave my family, my friends."

"Today, I see soccer as a profession, but at the time, I saw it as a pleasure. For a long time, I didn't want to leave everything I had to play soccer. It wasn't my dream to become a professional. I just wanted to have fun on the field. And that's why I stayed so long in Pescara."

"I received many offers when I was a kid, but it was very easy for me to say no. I didn't want to throw away my whole life and my whole adolescence for soccer."

"When I decided to sign with Paris, I knew it was a new project. I wanted to be part of it. Ten years later, I don't regret it at all, even if the beginning was difficult."

About what France and Ligue 1 brought to his game...

"Ligue 1 allowed me to discover a different championship that took me out of my comfort zone."

"Each country has its particularities. Ligue 1 is very physical."

"I'm not very tall, not very strong. Against all these teams, you have to hold on and be strong. This league has helped me grow a lot in this respect."

About his mixture of Italian and French culture helping him in developing a different style of play...

"My Italian tactic knowledge help me; I grew up with them."

"In Italy, we have a very precise soccer culture and the Franco-Italian mix in my game has helped me to improve as a player."

"I am also lucky to have been trained by great French and foreign coaches, each with their own vision and style of play. They are all different from each other, and that's also how I was able to acquire different skills."

About France being harsh on him at times...

"There are people who may like me, and others who may not like my style of play. That's understandable and normal."

"I also have players I like and others I don't like. The only thing I know is that every time I go on the field I give my all, I give my life."

"Soccer has given me a lot and that's why I respect it so much and I always give it everything."

"There are many players who are stronger than me, others who are less so, that's soccer."

"I had some great years here. I have the respect of my teammates, and of all the coaches who have passed here (Ancelotti, Blanc, Emery, Tuchel, Pochettino, Galtier), and who have seen me every day."

About his best memories while playing at PSG...

"The best memory? The first championship we won here (2012-2013), it's something that will remain special for me. It was the first one I won (seven others followed in Ligue 1 in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022. In total, he won 29 trophies with PSG)."

"Paris missed this title a lot (after 1986, 1994) and I saw how much the fans celebrated it. I had never experienced that. It's one of my fondest memories."

"Apart from soccer, I have many good memories. I got married in France (in the summer of 2021), and my children were born here."

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"The worst? The worst memories are about soccer. We lost some matches that made me feel very bad. Against Barcelona or against Manchester United at home. After these matches, I went through two very hard weeks."