Dybala talks Serie A’s return & testing positive for COVID-19

Juventus’ Paulo Dybala.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Sport, Juventus’ Paulo Dybala discusses the return of Serie A behind closed doors, saying: “Without the public... Playing football is boring.”

The 26-year-old questions the decision when he believes many of the social distancing rules are already being violated, but also reveals his own experiences after being one of the first high-profile sportsmen to test positive for COVID-19 back in March.

With Juventus still leading the way in Serie A, Dybala shares an insight into what it’s like to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for his club and Lionel Messi for the Argentinian national team — and whether the two can ever be compared.

Dybala also reflects on his experiences growing up in Argentina, telling CNN how the sudden death of his father when he was just 14 years old helped drive his career to the top. Here’s the excerpt:

On the return of Serie A and playing behind closed doors:

"It's weird finding yourself playing a game without fans. But it's also weird that when I go down the street, I see bars or restaurants full of people, with people outside, without [distancing]... I think that many rules are being violated, and the truth is that football without people is sad. Without the public, without our fans, playing football is boring, because I think they are part of the atmosphere of this, which is the most important thing in football."

On playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo:

"The truth is that you learn a lot because he is a player, in this case, who is a winner and that makes you a winner... How he has managed to make his career, how he has managed to win his trophies, his accolades, everything he has earned through sacrifice and training. So, one always feels admiration and tries to learn from the things he has.

On playing alongside Lionel Messi for the Argentinian national team:

"Leo is also an incredible player who plays in such a natural way that many times people think that what he's doing is easy and the truth is that it's impossible how he moves, how jumps past players, how he dribbles past players so easily, the truth is that is incredible.”

On who he believes is the better player:

"I see a big difference, but I try not to compare them. I think I rather try to enjoy them, and I just learn from both of them. They are incredible players, the best in history, that everyone will remember forever, and I have the opportunity to speak with both of them, to learn from the two, to share pitch with the two... Working with these two monsters is very nice."

On being one of the first athletes to test positive for coronavirus:

“I noticed certain problems, some difficulty in my breathing at the time of training, at the time of climbing stairs and at home. I would shake a lot simply by climbing stairs, so I noticed that something was different... I just had to try to reassure my family, since they were already far away. So, both me and my girlfriend tried not to worry. We also saw and read things from many people who were worse than us.”

On how the passing of his father affected his development:

"It was a blow, a hard blow for the family... I had to start maturing in a certain way a little faster because of the situation I was living and obviously I would have liked to share everything I've lived, everything I have learned and the places I have been, people that I have met with my father. But I know somehow, he's always with me always. I always feel that when I play, when I am on a pitch, he is close to me and that is what makes me enjoy this beautiful sport even more." — CNN Sport