Giorgio Chiellini has claimed that only a taste for alcohol prevented former Juventus team-mate Arturo Vidal from reaching the very top of the game.
The Chile international has a chequered history in the game and was notably involved in a car crash during the 2015 Copa America in his homeland, in which he was found to have crashed his Ferrari while under the influence of alcohol.
Chiellini spent four years at Juventus with the 32-year-old, who has had subsequent spells with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and said that his fondness for a drink was the only weakness he had in his make up.
“A footballer isn’t a devil or a saint. The distinction to be made is quite another. That is, between those who are real and those who are fake,” he wrote in an excerpt leaked by SOS Fanta.
“Someone like Vidal sometimes went out and drank more than they should’ve. Everyone knew it. It can be said that alcohol was a bit of a weakness for him.
“However, that doesn’t put into question whether he is a champion or which type of person he is.
“Weaknesses are part of human nature. What matters are the consequences they can have on a squad.
“The great Arturo didn’t show up for training a couple of times a year or, when he did, let’s say he was rather merry.
“However, he never slacked. On the contrary, I think that sometimes, certain ways of being can make you stronger.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know Paolo Montero that well. He was someone else who lived like a king at night.
“During his last season with us, when his performance levels had dropped, Moggi went to him and said: ‘Paolo, please stop staying at home in the evening. Go back to your old ways!’ Vidal was a bit like that.”
Chiellini gave an anecdote to highlight his point.
“I still remember an American tour, we were in Miami the night before the last training session before leaving and we were given a free pass. The next morning, Arturo was nowhere to be seen. He was in bed, and they had to pull him out by force,” he remembered.
“That day we tried the new training shirts. We were all dressed in black and it was 40 degrees. Head coach Antonio Conte couldn’t wait to kick him out of the squad and make an example out of him.
“Instead, after 10 minutes when Arturo still looked drunk and didn’t even see the ball go by, he ended up running like crazy and beat everyone else by 20 metres.
“What can you say to a person who, among other things, brings joy to a squad, as well as being someone who drives the team on and is both a fighter and a great champion?”
Vidal won four Scudetti and one Coppa Italia while with Juve, while he also has three Bundesliga titles and one Spanish crown to his name.