Pavel Nedved discussed his love for Juventus, the Manchester United temptation, Cristiano Ronaldo and why he can “rest in peace” with the Champions League.
He famously missed out on the 2003 Final at Old Trafford due to suspension, only able to watch on as his teammates lost to Milan on penalties.
The Bianconeri have not won this trophy since 1996 and The Telegraph newspaper asked him how he would feel if they ended that drought.
“It would certainly make me extremely happy. I wanted to win it but couldn’t win it as a player but if we managed to win it while I am part of the club that would be absolutely wonderful, it would be a remarkable achievement. And so then, then I could rest in peace.”
Nedved is now the vice-President, working alongside Chief Football Officer Fabio Paratici and President Andrea Agnelli.
“I feel the responsibility not to let anyone down, not to disappointment anyone. I have been able to do what I love, I have always been treated well, I have always been paid well, so that’s why. I feel that I owe something; that I need to return something. It’s always been a great pleasure, but nevertheless I do feel this responsibility.
“I can say in the past, when I was a player, it was less heavy because I could just focus on my performance and concentrate on myself. But even now, even if my role has changed, I don’t want to let anyone down.”
It was also this attitude that saw him stay with Juventus after the Calciopoli scandal of 2006 and demotion to Serie B.
“It was actually easy to stay. The other players who made the same decision thought the same – that is: what would have happened if we had all left the club? We decided to stay because we felt the responsibility to return to the club exactly what we had received. The club believed in us, so it was the right time to give back. That’s why it was easy.”
At Lazio before his move to Juventus, Nedved found his home in Italy and Serie A, but admits he was tempted by offers from England.
“I’ve always appreciated English football and the Premier League, I’ve always liked it. My agent received some offers and I have always been a great supporter of Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, specifically, at that time. They were certainly one of our greatest opponents and also a great source of inspiration and drive and desire.
“He (Ferguson) achieved great things, unprecedented things and I don’t know if anyone else in the future will be able to achieve what he did.
“It has been an incredible journey, it went beyond my expectations. I could never dream of being where I am right now and I am still living this dream - the fact that I am here, doing this job. Football is my greatest love.”
Nedved was also involved in the negotiations to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus from Real Madrid.
“We knew him as a player but now we know him as a person and we’ve all been really impressed by his personality, his character. He is much more than a player.
“The way I describe Juventus is that it exactly matches with him. Ronaldo is a Juventus player. It’s a perfect fit and it is the perfect mentality.”