As always we were told that he needs no introduction, we all know him, but let’s do it anyway! Antognoni told us where José is from, Andalucia in Spain, and also mentioned how Spain holds good memories for Giancarlo himself (I’m not sure if this was a reference to a family holiday or a certain World Cup triumph). He told us that Callejón is an eclectic player, important for Fiorentina, that he can play in many roles, and maybe even as a striker! Antognoni did admit that he’s not a coach, but that he has been told by others of the possibility of our new man playing up front.
He then gave us some career stats, from the players time at Real Madrid and of course his seven years at Napoli. After some facts and figures, 350 games with Napoli, 80 goals and just as many assists, 2 Coppe Italia and a Super Coppa, it was time for the man in question to answer some questions.
Asked about what Fiorentina represents for him and if he can write a new chapter here after Napoli, he said that he is ready and that he wants to do well here. “I always make myself available to the club, the manager, my team mates. I’m a player who likes to work, always be at 100%, available, at 33 I’m a mature player who has already played a lot here in Italy which is a big help, both to me and especially the team.” He also spoke of how he is training very hard to be ready to play, which he hopes will be soon.
Asked about the 3-5-2 system here and how he sees himself fitting in and also where he would like to play, of course he replied that he will do whatever the manager asks of him. “Unfortunately at Napoli I never played with this formation but I don’t think it will be a problem. If I have to play on the right, or as a striker I will, or if it’s behind the strikers I’ll try to do my best, through work and training.”
When asked if Serie A has become a league where the Over 30’s can do well, with the likes of Franck Ribéry, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Fabio Quagliarella, as well as Callejón himself, he feigned offence- “You’re saying we’re old?!” He explained that when you reach a certain age you need to mature on the pitch, thinking more before acting, to be able to express yourself to the best of your ability.
Replying to a question on his goal scoring form at Napoli, reaching double figures in 5 seasons there and if he feels he can still achieve those numbers here- “I hope to score a lot of goals here, at Napoli I had some great years and scored a lot, and I want to do the same at Fiorentina.”
There has no doubt been a lot of affection for Callejón from the Napoli fans since he left and he was asked if he hadn’t thought of finishing his career there. He said that he felt his time at Napoli had come to an end, he had a lot of time to think during the lockdown and had reached that conclusion after seven marvelous years at Napoli. “I love Naples and will love Naples forever, that will never change”
He was asked if he thinks he can replicate the relationship he had with Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli here with Ribéry. “With Insigne we had a great 7 years, but I’ve spoken with Franck and I’m sure we can do well together, I hope we can score a lot of goals”
When asked how the deal happened and if he had said yes straight away to Fiorentina, he told of how he had a lot of offers, but Fiorentina was one of those that he liked the most. He had spoken to Daniele Pradè and also Beppe Iachini, and they had convinced him. “It was also important for both myself and my family to stay here in Italy because after seven years here we are very happy, and this will definitely be the same here in Florence, so all of these things convinced me to come here.”
Of course there had to be a mention given to Federico Chiesa, and whether the deal depended on his leaving Fiorentina, as Pradè had claimed otherwise. “I don’t like to be called the heir of anyone, because I’m not, we’re two completely different players, he is younger with his whole career ahead of him and will surely become a very strong player, but I’m here to do my job.” He did say that if in the end he needs to play in the same role as Chiesa that he will give his best.
Asked what he would like to bring from Napoli to Fiorentina he spoke of a winning mentality. He did say that it was already here in the club, he brings his experience from Napoli and from before that, but he can’t do it alone and will need the help of those around him.
Speaking about his previous managers, he spoke of how he has always got on well with them, from the first to the last, Gennaro Gattuso. He said it certainly helped that all of his managers have always played him so he’s never had any problems.
After everything he achieved at Napoli, does he still have a dream to realize? “I haven’t won the Serie A title, with Napoli we went very close a couple of times but in the end it never happened, it’s not easy to win the league here in Italy.” That said, he hasn’t come here with a particular objective in mind, he doesn’t like to predict where a team will finish, he just wants to improve all the time.
He was asked whether the fact that Fiorentina have a lot of young players helped his decision to move here? “Yes, of course, it’s important to have young players in the squad, here we have this, very good players that can do well and definitely mixing this with more mature experienced players can bring good results, let’s hope that will be the case”
Gaetano Castrovilli is one of those, and he singled him out as a player that he has been impressed with in the Fiorentina team, in his opinion he can become a top player, but he warned that it’s also important to take it slowly with younger players, there is a danger of ruining them.
He has been struck by how much the team wants to restart the championship, that the break can be a help to get work done but that after a defeat you always want to get back on the pitch to win the next game. He also mentioned that so far he has seen a family type club, calm but serious and he likes this a lot.
What we all want to know of course, is whether or not José Callejón is available and ready to play. “I feel very good. Last week was my first week of training, I worked really hard, and this week again so far. It’s true I’m probably a little behind my team mates as they’ve already played three league games, they’ve worked a lot more than I have, but I’m ready, I will do my best to be available for Sunday, but it’s the boss who decides”
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how he slots into this team, and I do think he will bring a lot. Some goals would of course be great, especially after losing our top scorer from last season, but he can certainly help create a lot for this team. There’s a lot of quality in this squad and now of course it’s up to Beppe Iachini to get the best out of them.