The Italy international, who has now developed into one of the best defenders in the peninsula explained how his footballing career was in doubt just when he had started to dream about a long future in the sport.
“As a lad I missed five months of sporting activity to Osgood-Schlatter disease (a syndrome that affects the bones during growth spurts),” the 23-year-old told La Stampa. “It used to wake me up at night with the pain in my knees.
"My motto is from difficulties up to the stars. I got a tattoo to represent that when I used to sit in the stands at Treviso.
“Since I was in the youth team I would love to dribble past opponents with a dummy. That tendency got even stronger under Giampiero Ventura at Bari, as we never threw the ball away.
“These technical flicks and tricks come naturally to me and I don’t really think about them. I did a backheel against Udinese and the coach would’ve strangled me if he could have!“Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is a characteristic of mine, but I must try to limit it.”