Handanovic: "I've paid my dues"

APPIANO GENTILE
If Inter have put together such an impressive winning run, it’s also
thanks to a superb keeper such as Samir Handanovic.
The Nerazzurri No.1 gave an interview to Sky Italia’s Andrea
Paventi today.

The big Slovene started with the moment he joined
Andrea Stramaccioni’s side: "I think I came here at the right time. I
paid my dues and did my time at ‘school’, step by step, class by
class. Not many have done it that way: I can name Buffon at Parma and
Casillas in Real’s youth ranks. I’ve replaced a world-class keeper in
Julio Cesar? I see this as my job, at Udinese in 2005 I replaced De
Sanctis. That’s what you have to do, see it as your profession and think
about other things. I know who Julio Cesar was and what he achieved
here, everyone is aware of that."

Handanovic weighs his words carefully when asked if
Inter have moved up to the next level: "That’s something we still
have to see. You can’t say that after just eight games won. One
thing’s for sure, we have found our balance, but it’s
a tough league and we have to get through a lot of games yet before
we can say that we’ve moved up to the next level."

What’s more satisfying, a save like the one he pulled
off to deny Lazar Markovic against Partizan or setting Palacio away in the build-up
to Milito’s goal in Bologna v Inter? "You mustn’t spend too much
time looking at the things you’ve done well. It’s better to focus on
what you’ve done badly and try to improve. A goalkeeper must have a good all-round game."

Are Inter in the hunt for the Scudetto? "We’re here and
we’re here to make a nuisance of ourselves and fight. Any team can say they want to win the title but then you have to see.
And we will see on Saturday. It’s too early now, it’s an enjoyable
league, well balanced and we’ve got lots of games ahead."

Handanovic took a step back in time, to 16 September 2007, Juventus
v Udinese. "That was my second game, we’d just been beaten 5-1 by
Napoli and we won thanks to a header by Di Natale. I got lucky in
that match, hopefully it will be the same on Saturday evening. You
have to give 100% against every team. I take my hat off to Juventus
for what they’ve done up to now, but each team has their own story to
write and we must think about trying to win.

"I don’t like talking about the coaches I’ve had,"
Handanovic said, though he made an exception for Udinese manager
Francesco Guidolin and Andrea Stramaccioni. "I can only say that
Guidolin is a fantastic coach and he has achieved far less than what
he really deserves. Stramaccioni has surprised everyone and it’s only
right that he should be at Inter now because the results speak for
themselves.

"Next question please," he smiled when asked to reveal the secret that enables him to save so many penalties. And so we
come to Juventus v Inter: "It’s an important match, but no more so
than any other. We’re going into it in a totally relaxed
atmosphere. What difference does Juventus Stadium make to the
Bianconeri? For a keeper it’s always good to be playing with the fans
behind you, even if they are opposing fans, but I think that stadium
gives Juve an extra five or six points a season. How will Inter be
set out? I don’t know about that, you should ask the boss. I’ve got enough
to think about myself… [he smiles]. If we win in Turin it will mean
that we have three points more than we do now. Is that all? Yes,
that’s all."

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