Dusan Vlahovic said he listened to his heart when he decided to stay at Fiorentina ‘to grow’, admitted coach Vincenzo Italiano ‘was one of the reasons’ and revealed Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic told him ‘to never give up’.
The centre-forward had his breakthrough season with the Viola in 2020-21 and continues to impress under Italiano.
He spoke to DAZN about his time in Florence, why he decided to stay and about his idols in the world of football.
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“My best friends are Milenkovic and Terzic, who joined the national team,” Vlahovic told DAZN. “A wonderful group has been created.
“I’m doing great in Florence, I arrived when I was very young, it’s my second home.”
The Serbian was linked with a move away from the Viola this summer, but stressed he was sincere when he revealed he wanted to stay at the Artemio Franchi.
“I always speak sincerely, I think that those who came from the Balkans are doing things more with the heart than the brain,” he said.
“I felt like staying, I think I can grow further here. I will score many goals and assists, the rest will come when it comes.
“There may be many risks, but without the risks, it’s not worth living. Totti comes to mind, against Holland, when he scored the Panenka.”
Vlahovic scored a Panenka too, in the Primavera Final against Torino.
“We won the first Final 2-0 at the Artemio Franchi and we discussed if the first goal I scored was a penalty or not,” he added.
“Then we read about a stolen game, so I said: ‘If there will be another penalty, I’ll do the Panenka, then they can cry as much as they want’.”
“The captain encouraged me, and I chose to really do it.”
Vlahovic revealed his big idol in the world of football is Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“My family first, then if we talk about players, I certainly liked Ibra more for his character and the desire to never give up,” Vlahovic continued.
“He never allowed anyone to command him, then the monstrous plays…. Let’s leave it. When we lost 3-2 in Florence, I took the advantage of the fact that he might not be very angry and asked him for the shirt.
“He signed it for me, we took a photo and wrote the dedication in our language. He told me to continue and never give up. I’m not very good at speaking when I meet an idol.”
He also spoke about another Balkan idol, pointing at former Fiorentina and Inter forward Stevan Jovetic.
“Jovetic. Nobody knew him, but at 18 he became the captain of Partizan,” Vlahovic said. “I went to the stadium every Sunday to watch him play.
“I had a shirt without a number or name on the back. At home, I put on No. 35.”
Vlahovic said new coach Vincenzo Italiano was one of the reasons he wanted to stay at Fiorentina, but joked the former Spezia coach ‘is always angry’.
“He was one of the reasons I chose to stay,” the youngster continued. “After the retreat, I said: ‘You have fun like this’.
“He’s always on you, he doesn’t let you breathe, and you can only improve. I like the competition, it’s fun to play for him.
“When he’s angry, he calls me Dusan. And he’s always angry,” Vlahovic said and laughed.
Vlahovic was asked why some people say he’s an arrogant player and he claimed it’s only ‘self-esteem’ and confidence, not arrogance.
“Maybe on the pitch, where I don’t know a mother or a father,” he said. “For me, the pitch is life or death, you need a lot of self-esteem and believe in yourself. But it’s never arrogance.”
The Serbia international wanted to thank his previous coach Cesare Prandelli and spoke about his relationship with former Fiorentina forward Franck Ribery.
“If I can only thank Cesare Prandelli, he pulled me out of… I won’t say the bad word,” Vlahovic said. “Nobody did the things he did for me.
“Apart from Ribery and the advice he gave me. I still consider him an older brother. We talked for hours.
“Those two, they are friends, have always been very close. I will always be grateful.”
Vlahovic: ‘Ho scelto di restare alla Fiorentina col cuore, con Haaland me la gioco. Ecco cosa mi ha detto Ibra’ https://t.co/P5zZowzuUw pic.twitter.com/mUsiiCPPyn
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