Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has revealed that the untimely passing of his father gave him the strength to become a professional footballer.
Hailing from Laguna Larga, a small town south of Cordoba in Argentina, the ex-Palermo star remembers how his dad would take him to the city to play for Instituto Cordoba.
Dybala was only 12 years old when his father died and, a decade later, the Argentina international attributes his inner strength to that painful loss.
“I came from a small town but our dreams were big,” the 22-year-old said in an interview with Argentine television show El Chiringuito de Jugones.
“When I was little I went to play for Instituto Cordoba and my family often accompanied me, especially my brother and father. I have so many great memories of my dad which makes it so painful to have lost him when I was only 12.
“The experience though gave me the strength to pursue my dreams and it helped me to grow as a person and now I’m playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
Dybala has become central to Juventus’ ambition of claiming a fifth consecutive title, filling the hole left by compatriot Carlos Tevez, with 14 goals in 29 league appearances.
The striker has revealed that his friendship with teammate Alvaro Morata helped him settle, while also admitting he was bowled over by the praise he received from Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
“Playing at Juventus is an honour, a real dream come true,” Dybala added. “To achieve all this at such a young age is breathtaking.
“Morata is a great guy, now that we are friends though. When I played at Palermo last season he hit me hard with a challenge but I have just about forgiven him for it.
“When a player of Messi’s stature pays you such a warm compliment, such as being his heir for the national team, it shows that you are performing well.”