The two stripes that wrap the forearm of Paulo Dybala almost personify the unique style of this man. He’s an expressive person with the ability to positively twist convention. Opening up and giving us an insight into his past, present and future, it’s a timely talk with him for SoccerBible '32/12' World Cup magazine. All eyes on Argentina.

Paulo, 2017 was a great year for you. You won the cup, the league, got to the Champions League final, do you think that it was your best season to date?

That was an incredible season because we played every single match that we could have played in the year. We played incredible football as a team, and unfortunately there are times when a single match can change everything, as it did with Champions League final defeat. For me that was something very difficult to face, because it was the last match of the year and when we all went back home and I personally went back with a bitter taste because I know the score could have been a different one.

But obviously I don’t want to leave aside what the team achieved during the year. We fought the whole year to get the league championship and we won, which wasn’t easy. We won the Italian Cup and broke many records that were held for a long time. Winning six championships in a row, that something that no team had ever done in the history of Italian footballThe satisfaction of winning those titles and being part of the history of a club like Juventus is huge and personally I felt that I had a great year.

Did you manage to sleep the night before the match?

I could sleep but it wasn’t like a normal match because it’s not only the night before you go to bed thinking about the match, it’s the whole week. There are many experienced players who have lived that feeling more than once and they are more relaxed and know how to face it, but for me it was my first time. Also playing against one of the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid that has won it many times, and coming up against rivals that I have only played against when playing PlayStation with my mates: all of that gets to your head.

Are there any special Champions League finals that stand out in your memory?

Yes, I remember one that I watched was the AC Milan vs Liverpool final, the 3-3. That was an incredible final and well, football has those moments, right? When you think the match is over but the truth is, it’s never over. Also there was the one that the Inter won against Bayern Munich with Milito’s goals - I watched that too. I was able to go to the one that Juventus lost against Barça in Berlin and well, that’s football. You can enjoy it whether it’s watching on television with your friends or family or being in the stadium witnessing a match like that.


You were born in Laguna Larga, in Cordoba, can you describe your town a little?

Yeah well, Laguna Larga is a very small town that’s 50-60 kilometres away from the city, from Cordoba Capital. It’s a very humble town where everyone knows each other because it has approximately 7000 people so you grow up and become an adult always knowing the same people.

And do you remember the street where you lived?

Yeah, yeah, I lived in a house until I was three and then my parents decided to move house, a bit closer to the town centre because of my dad’s job and we still live there today; well my brother who’s in Argentina lives there, and every time I go back I stay at the house with my mother. 

How did you discover football?

Football in Argentina is a big passion. All our parents practically instil it in us from the day we are born. The first thing they give us is a football so we grow up and we become adults with football. The passion that people have in Argentina for football is so great that when you’re little there’s already that passion inside you and anywhere you are in the world you live with football.

Can you remember the first professional football match that you saw on TV or in a stadium?

The first professional match that I saw was the “Instituto de Córdoba” (A team in the second division of the Argentine football). My dad took me to watch the match and it was the club that I’d later make my debut for. In my house we always watched football, and we still watch a lot of football today whether it’s big club matches or second and third league teams. When we are home and there’s nothing else to watch, we always watch football. If there’s no football we look up old matches and that’s the way it is. It’s incredible but that’s what happens and the feeling football gives us.

How about the World Cup? What was it like to watch the tournament at home, in Argentina?

Yes, well many times we watched the World Cup at school because there are no school holidays like in Europe, so many times the school had to give us permission to watch the match. If we weren’t at school we’d get together with friends and family to watch the national team, because in Argentina everything stops.

Which World Cup games have stuck in your mind?

I remember the last world cup, I remember everything. It didn’t finish like we wanted to unfortunately. It was a hard moment because I remember being in training with Palermo with other Argentinian mates and it was tough because we were so close to winning the world cup in Brazil which is the eternal classic for Argentinians. It would have been something historic for us.

What is the first World Cup that you can remember?

The first world cup that I remember a little was Korea/Japan 2002. I watched almost every single match at home, but there are some details I don’t remember very well.


Argentinian football is known for its passion; do you think that Argentinian games are some of the best in the world?

Yeah, I think that’s how you live football in Argentina and it’s something you can’t really see in many other places. The pre-match atmosphere, obviously I lived that as an insider and know what is like, but the feeling that people have when they go to the stadium and the sacrifices they make to take their whole family there - the variety of ways that people live football in Argentina is great, always with a lot of passion. Sometimes it’s difficult to compare it to fans in Europe.

Sometimes you see matches and the supporters are mixed. It doesn’t matter if they’re fans from Real, fans from Barça, fans from Juve or fans from Inter or any English team, sometimes the fans mix together and nothing happens. In Argentina that would never happen because of how football is lived. It also has a very beautiful side because the supporters sing like nowhere else in the world. The energy that people transmit to you on the field is huge and it’s just lived in a different way.

Is there a special match that you remember from when you played in Argentina?

Yeah I remember a match that I watched over and over many times. When we played against Instituto Rosario Central, we won 3-0 and it’s a match I will never forget because of the welcome that we had and how people exploded when we entered the field. I remember it as if it was yesterday, even though we were given great welcomes the whole season. That was something special.

Who was your first goal against?

My first goal was against Aldosivi, a header. I never used to score with my head but my first goal as a professional was a header that went in at the far post. The ball was low but I don’t know why, I had the instinct to dive head first and well, luckily it was a goal and went in through the goalkeeper’s legs.

So let’s talk about Italy, you signed for Palermo. Did they do something special to get you?

Yeah, Palermo were one of the first clubs who were interested in meThey made a great effort to sign me, so I valued that a lot, and also knowing that they’re a very important club in Italy and that it could provide an opportunity to then go onto a bigger club. So I tried to learn every single moment and do my best every single time I trained. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy because I didn’t speak the language, but I had a lot to learn and made the most of every second.

Did you feel a lot of pressure when you arrived?

I felt a lot of pressure because well, obviously the people, the supporters, the journalists, everyone expected a lot from me at the beginning and everyone was excited about what I was going to do and how many goals I was going to score in my first season. The truth is that it wasn’t that easy because we were relegated in that season and had to go down to the Italian Serie B, and obviously all the weight of that as one of the more expensive transfers came upon me and I was only 18 and had only just arrived in Italy so it was not easy at all. Luckily the second year we recovered and finished going back up to Serie A and then the third year gave me a lot of joy because the team did well and I scored many goals.

What do you like about the Italian lifestyle?

The food! Italy is a beautiful country, obviously it took me a little time to get used to it because it was not easy. We came from a completely different place, but with time we got to know a lot of things about the city. The people are very similar to people in Argentina. They are very warm and they help you when you don’t understand or don’t know something.

You were living in Sicily, right?

I lived for three years in Sicily in Palermo.

Then you moved into a city with Juventus, was it a huge difference?

It was a very big change and took some effort to begin with, because I was used to something else. The pressure changes and it was a different way of life because Juventus is a great club that gives you a lot, but also very demanding so you need to give the club everything back. So any free time I had was less and less and even though I was used to a different life, I still had to get used to new places, new things. For me, it was a massive achievement, arriving at a club like Juventus and putting the Juventus jersey on, a jersey that means so much around the world.


Let’s talk about fashion now, because as you grew up, you started to get more and more interested by fashion, but how did it all start?

In Argentina, I liked to dress up well and so did my brothers. My brother worked in a clothing shop so he gave me a lot of advice, but when you arrive in Italy and Europe, you start to see other things and get inspiration. A lot of time I’d look at other players who would dress well and had good taste. I started to get into the fashion world which is something very beautiful because you learn a lot of new things.

Not long ago you had an event with Dolce and Gabbana, how was the experience?

Yes, it was not really planned. It was something we didn’t know was going to happen, but I got the chance to meet Dolce and Gabbana who are two amazing people and they thought I could do the walk and it could be a surprise for everyone. I think there was one or two hundred people at the show. It wasn’t a lot and I’m used to playing with thirty or forty thousand people at the Juventus’ stadium watching. I was more nervous with a hundred people than with forty thousand, but that’s because they are two different spaces, you know? One space that I’m used to since I was a kid and another that I’m not. It went well because I had fun, I met new people and it was a good moment.

Naturally part or your style is your celebration, your mask. What can you tell us about that? 

Well that was something that came after a missed penalty, against Milan. I had three days after which I spent thinking about that penalty so I thought well, this needs to change, I need to start the year with something new, so I thought of celebration and luckily it went well because it brought many goals.

Read the full interview in '32/12' magazine by SoccerBible. Pick up the special 2018 Russia World Cup edition here.