A two-time Scudetto winner, Juan Sebastián Veron was one of the stars of Serie A in his generation, with his performances at Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio and Internazionale lighting up the Italian top flight in the 1990s and 2000s.
The Argentine was part of the Lazio side that ended their 26-year wait for the Scudetto and won the UEFA Cup with that Parma team that also included Gianluigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo and Lilian Thuram.
A box-to-box, engine-room creator and free-kick specialist, Veron played at three World Cups, while has had the rare privilege of playing alongside both Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
La Brujita caught up with 90min for part two of an exclusive chat about his distinguished career, his best ever coach and the differences between Messi and Maradona.
You played in both the Premier League and Serie A. What are the major differences between the two leagues?
I arrived in Serie A at the best time for that league. It was rich in names and football. [It is] a very difficult championship because it’s a very tactical tournament. The Premier League is the opposite – free from all tactics and is about constantly going up and down the pitch. That makes it much easier on the eyes than the Italian league.
You worked with Sir Alex Ferguson. But who was the best coach you ever had and why?
I didn’t pay much attention to the tactical details. In reality, I played, I paid attention, I knew what was being said – because obviously you are obviously within a group – but I always paid a lot of attention to team management, always. For me, the best at that who I worked with was Sven-Goran Eriksson.
I hardly ever experienced any kind of problems in his teams. And they were groups with strong personalities. He got on with everyone very well and ultimately that made us win, especially at Lazio.
In Serie A, do you think Inter can end Juventus’ reign in Serie A?
The advantage that Juve has over others is that they have maintained their identity. Although the Italian league has had many problems, they’ve maintained that identity, that strength of club, of society.
Inter has changed hands. Today it seems that it is normalising that situation. As happened to Milan, at Inter a family with very important roots within the club has left. Moratti has gone, like with Berlusconi at Milan.
They are teams that have their history, that are finding, or trying to find, their identity. Juventus obviously kept it. Then they jumped ahead of the rest. Hopefully at some point in the Italian championship, as it was in our time, we will have a title race not only of three teams. During my time it was seven and that makes it much more attractive.
You are rare in that you played with both Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. What are the differences between the two as players?
The era, the speed of football. The personalities, in a good way. Diego marked an era and today Messi is marking his own with different personalities, and different ways to play football.
They are undoubtedly two historic players and we are lucky that they are Argentine.
Which one was better?
It is difficult, very complex. Some say Maradona, because he won a World Cup. Those who did not see Maradona and did see Messi are going to tell you Messi. I think those kinds of comparisons with players that have given us so much in football seem very unfair. Such discussions lead to nothing, they seem useless.
Do you think Maradona as a manager can save his new side Gimnasia from relegation?
In football, anything can happen. Undoubtedly [his arrival] generated great enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps to diffuse many football differences. Then it will depend on the talent of his coaches, his talent and what he can generate on the field.
You can read part one of Juan Sebastián Verón’s exclusive interview with 90min here – where he discusses his time in the Premier League with Manchester United, his biggest career regret and the best player he played with.