Exclusive interview with Argentina's Paulo Dybala, AS Roma striker

Exclusive interview with Argentina's Paulo Dybala, AS Roma striker
Argentinian professional footballer Paulo Dybala who plays for Serie A club Roma and the Argentina national team, spoke to The New Arab's Arabic edition.
6 min read
23 February, 2024
Dybala was part of the winning Argentina team during the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar, end of 2022 [GETTY]

In an exclusive interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed Newspaper (The New Arab’s sister Arabic site), Argentinian professional footballer Paulo Dybala spoke about his achievements since the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup, the state of his club and future projects.

Hussein Ghazi, Al-Araby al-Jadeed’s sports correspondent interviewed Dybala.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Football manager Jose Mourinho has left AS Roma. How was your time under his leadership, bearing in mind many clubs seem interested in recruiting him during the coming period? Will we see him in a big club again?

Working with Mr. Mourinho has been both stimulating and a significant growth factor for me. A coach who has achieved so much in his career undoubtedly brings his experience to the table and helps you develop as a footballer. Honestly, I don't know what the future holds for him; I certainly won't be the one to predict it, but I'm sure he will continue to manage top clubs.

What about Massimiliano Allegri? You worked with him twice while you were at Juventus. Was the first period different from the second?

Being coached by Mr. Allegri was also pivotal in my career during two different periods. When I joined Juventus from Palermo, I was very young and entered a team with extraordinary players like Buffon, Chiellini, and many other champions such as Tevez, Higuain, and later Cristiano Ronaldo. I was young but matured quickly and learned a lot from Allegri and my teammates. Those were beautiful years where we achieved a lot. The second time around, I was more mature, and we worked differently, but always with that added value that Allegri brings of always wanting to win and working towards victory.

What did the World Cup in Qatar 2022 mean to you, winning the title there for the Argentine national team for the third time in its history? 

It's never easy to describe the emotions of that December 18th, of that night. It was the greatest emotion of my career. When I lifted the Cup, I thought of my father, my family, because I was also fulfilling their greatest wish: to win with Argentina, my country. I will never forget the World Cup in Qatar, and I am happy that one day I can tell it to my children. It will be beautiful.

The Saudi League attracts many stars. What do you think of the contest? You played with Ronaldo at Juve - have you been surprised to see that he is still scoring so many goals?

The growth of the Saudi Pro League in the last two years has been incredible, both in terms of players and clubs, but also in terms of the quality of the game. I've watched several matches on TV, and I've been impressed by both the level of play and the passion of the fans, with stadiums always full. Football is truly loved by the younger generations. Additionally, many of my Argentine teammates play there, and they often speak highly of it.

As for Cristiano Ronaldo: he's a champion. Playing alongside him was beautiful for me, but it was also a way to learn from his dedication and, above all, his constant desire to win and improve himself. I'm not surprised that he's doing so well even in Saudi Arabia.

Live Story

You have played with many great players and stars, whether in the Argentine national team or clubs, but you are among the few who had the opportunity to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. What have you learned from them?

As I've said before, from Ronaldo, I learned dedication to the sport, this attitude towards winning. However, playing with Lionel Messi was my childhood dream. Messi is a continuous inspiration, for us who are fortunate to see him by our side on the field. It's a joy that I will never forget to have shared with him the World Cup.

Training at the club level is different from that of the national team. Can coach Lionel Scaloni succeed with one of the major teams in Europe like what he achieved with the Argentina national team?

Coach Scaloni could succeed anywhere. He has immense tactical competence and was also a significant player here in Europe. He can interact with his players and instill his ideas exceptionally well, and he has an excellent staff. He could coach anywhere, but of course, I hope he remains with the National Team for a long time, and together we can win more titles.

Where does Dybala see himself in the future? Is it possible to follow in Ronaldo’s, for example, by going to the Saudi League or to the American League, as Messi did by moving to Inter Miami?

Now, I play for Roma, and I imagine myself with Roma. We have a new coach, Daniele De Rossi, who was an icon in Rome as a player and who is now fully committed in his new role. He is conveying his ideas, and it is really stimulating to work with him. I want to give my all to this team and for the fans who have welcomed me in an incredible way. I would like to achieve a positive result and reach the Champions League this year. Now, my future is the next game, and then we'll see what happens. Certainly, the SPL is one of the most important leagues, along with MLS and European leagues.

You recently played in the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. How was your experience there?

Playing in the Supercup in Saudi Arabia was clearly a new experience for me. I had never been to Saudi Arabia, and it was a very positive experience. I was already struck by the fans' passion for football and their dedication to the sport.

Who are your three favorite teammates to play with, and why?

My three favorite teammates to play with are Messi, Cristiano, and Higuain.

What is the goal that you always remember and do not forget during your career until this moment?

If I had to choose one, I would say the goal against Inter in the 2019/20 season, assisted by Ramsey. And then the penalty in the World Cup, the most important one ever.

You played alongside distinguished defenders in your career, such as Smalling, Chiellini, Bonucci, and Lisandro Martinez, and you faced others. What attracts you about a defensive player when you are on the front line?

That's a great question. All the defenders I've faced have been tough, solid, strong, and champions. Each has their own characteristics, but I would highlight everyone's ability to stay focused during the full 90 minutes. Truly, they are all exceptional defenders.

Many stars remain in fans' memories after retirement. How do you want fans to remember Dybala?

I would like to be remembered as a talented player who always tried to give his all on the field. But I would also like to be remembered as a player capable of inspiring the beauty of football to the younger generations, capable of being an example to follow both on and off the field. That would be the most important achievement for me.