It was precisely at the age of 32 that Yosip Ilyichic succeeded in turning an inconsistent player with an explosive personality into a greasy attack machine with the best numbers in his career • On the transformation of Slovenian and big-earner, his team Atalanta
Ilichic galloping. "I found my place"
"I'm like wine, getting better over the years," Joseph Ilyichic said in an interview in Italy earlier this month. This sentence, more fitting to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's quotation repertoire, may sound arrogant, but the 32-year-old Atlanta star took many years to come to terms with himself and release such a statement.
Now, in the best season of his career, leading the conquering table in his team with 14 conquests in 19 games, receiving compliments from all over and his first season in the Champions League qualifying for the eighth final against Valencia next week, Ilichic feels he can compliment himself. On Saturday (21:45) the Slovenian and his friends will host Rome for a direct fight for fourth place in Syria to get the Champions ticket next season as well.
When Ilyichic arrived in Atlanta in the summer of 2017 from Florence, he was a gamble, arriving after another season that defines his career - revealed instability, was cared for, disappeared for minutes while playing and justified the Viola fans' old nickname at him. In training, he often seems nervous and uncaring.
Alongside extraordinary moments of magic, Ilyichich made his coaches and friends restless. He was inconsistent, neither on the field nor in terms of his explosive personality. To the delight of the Atlanta people, he finished his first season with 11 goals and 8 cooking, but mostly seemed to want to prove himself.
Change of perspective
The major turning point in Ilyichitz's life in general and his career in particular came to his regret at the end of that season. He was hospitalized in a severe condition with a lymph node infection. After two very difficult months and quite a few treatments, he was approved to return to the fields. "I just wanted to go back to being a normal person, not to mention playing football. It made me realize that life is short," he said. Indeed, the huge rush came.
With mental strength that followed the tough days and with the exciting professional and psychological support of his coach, Gian Piero Gasparini, he made a switch. Ilyichich became synonymous with efficiency. Except for his numbers, he improved the game without a ball, and the dribbles on his entire 190 inches became effective and dangerous thanks to the great freedom of movement he gets on the field.
The connection with pioneers Duban Zapata and Luis Moriel and Alejandro Gomes, the club's most beloved player, made Atlante a lubricated offensive machine. He had 12 goals and 7 cooking last season, and a big part of the club's record - the qualification for the Champions League stage. The success of the Blue-Black has also continued this season with 61 goals so far, more than any team in Syria.
The connection and understanding there is between coach Gasparini and Ilyichic is not surprising. Like his striker, Gasparini also peaked in Bergamo and received late glory. The coach made his player realize that even after the age of 30, things could get better, even in things that already seemed lost at this point in their career. "I feel a lot better now than it was seven or eight years ago. What is important to me is to feel physically good. I only came to the club two and a half years ago, but now I can say that it is like my second home, Three in 0: 7 crazy about Turin in late January.
And if you thought that the great success Ilichic enjoyed these days would make him stop, think again. As far as the Slovenian is concerned, his group has not yet reached its glass ceiling and the gradual growth every year can continue. "It takes a lot of quality and a lot of work to win the Scudetto (Italy Championship, DL), but if Lester did it in the Premier League, that could happen to us as well. we're on the right track".