Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini had the chance to join Arsenal 20 years ago and accepts he was a fool to turn the opportunity down.
When 36-year-old Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini was just 16 years old, Arsenal tried to sign him from Livorno. The player was just breaking into senior football in Italy, playing in the third tier, yet he turned down the chance to move to the Premier League.
At the time, Chiellini felt he wasn’t yet ready to make that move, and would be letting down his club by moving on so soon. However, looking back, he thinks he should have accepted the transfer.
“In hindsight, I was a fool to decline that offer,” Chiellini admitted. “I was 16, I played in Serie C, I got a huge offer. I didn’t feel ready. If I had accepted, it would have given the impression of betraying Livorno.”
In a series of complicated deals, Chiellini went through co-ownership by AS Roma and Livorno (never appearing for Roma), then Fiorentina and Juventus, playing for La Viola for a single season in Serie A.
After that, Juventus bought out the half of Chiellini’s deal that they didn’t already own, and he’s been playing for them for the 16 seasons since.
The Italian international can’t exactly complain about the career he’s had. Nine Serie A titles (and one Serie B title), four Coppa Italias, and five Supercoppa Italianas, the only thing he’s missing at club level is the Champions League.
He’s made five Serie A Teams of the Year, been named Serie A Defender of the Year on three occasions, and made the UEFA Team of the Year in 2017.
Yet missing out on the Arsenal team that won the double in the year after he rejected them and went on to win the Premier League unbeaten a couple of years later is probably an understandable regret.