Giorgio Chiellini: ‘I have a strong temperament but off the pitch I am more serene’

As a player, the Italy defender has a well-earned reputation as a brute and a brawler, but away from football he is softly spoken and fiercely academic

Giorgio Chiellini is probably not the man you think he is. Nor, indeed, the animal. The Juventus and Italy centre-back has a well?earned reputation as a footballing bully, brute and brawler. He has broken his nose four times, been sent off five times and pulled opponents’ hair along the way. He pounds his chest with closed fists when he scores and characterises himself on his own website as a cartoon gorilla.

All of which is rather hard to reconcile with the softly spoken master’s student sitting opposite me in a sensible jumper and buttoned-up shirt, telling me how Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, The Little Prince, helped his younger self to fall in love with reading.

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