Mario Mandzukic has heaped praise on Serie A champions Juventus, saying that his experience in Turin has exceeded his high expectations.
Despite being sidelined for 12 matches due to a series of injuries, the big Croatian played a crucial role in the Bianconeri’s remarkable Serie A campaign, scoring ten goals and providing four assists in his 26 appearances.
In a recent interview with Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti, the striker spoke about his first full season in Turin, his teammates and his expectations for next season.
“I knew this was a big club with a fantastic tradition behind it, but unless you get to experience it for yourself, you can’t realise how perfectly the club is organised, the mentality and temperament, which are unique,” he said.
“I am really impressed with the organisation here and I have been at other big clubs. Especially during moments of crisis, the directors and staff really protected the squad.
“I am very happy here and I feel extraordinary! I had bad luck with injuries, but now I feel great and that is why I’m happy.”
By their high standards, the defending Serie A champions had a disastrous start to the season, winning only three of their opening ten league matches.
“The start was not easy in Turin,” Mandzukic said. “As for the first time, I had physical problems and was coming face to face with Italian football.
“On top of that we had 10 new players in the squad, so it took time to settle and solidify the team unit. The turning point came after the defeat to Sassuolo, as in the locker room we looked each other in the eye and confronted the issues.
“That’s when I realised this group had character and Juve were going to have a great campaign.”
The former Bayern Munich player also had words of praise for the club’s manager, Massimiliano Allegri, who guided the Old Lady to a record fifth Scudetto in April.
“He helped me a great deal. He wanted me at Juve, he was close to me when I wasn’t well and always supported me. If Diego Simeone is a gladiator, then Allegri is a man of character and his results speak for him.”