ROME (AFP) – Nigeria fullback Taye Taiwo says he’s happy to have won over the AC Milan fans following a start to his career in Italy marked by harsh criticism for his defensive capabilities.
The 26-year-old was much derided for his early performances in the red and black shirt but was afforded a round of applause on Wednesday, his first full game for the club, after hitting a speculative volley from 30 yards out at an angle that flew wide but was nonetheless hit sweetly.
“That was an incredible feeling. The fact is here in Italy you’re all crazy about football and that’s why you like to see a player who plays with spirit and runs up and down,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They gave me an extra shove and you could see that in the second half, couldn’t you?”
Taiwo, however, acknowledges that he must improve on his defence, something his coach Massimiliano Allegri has not been slow to point out.
“He’s right, I’m better at attacking than defending. Most of all he asks me to work hard and move off the ball,” added Taiwo.
“He does well because he corrects each individual player’s mistakes.”
Having started out his career as a second striker, Taiwo was converted to a fullback at Marseille, where he spent six years before joining Milan on a free transfer in the summer.
And he has been impressed with football in Italy in his two months here.
“Maybe you don’t realise it but your football is the most difficult in Europe,” he told the Italian newspaper.
“It’s full of tactics, to score a goal you have to work 10 times harder than the rest of Europe.
“In France football is more physical but it’s easier and in Spain it’s also easier.
“They’re quick to laud (Lionel) Messi who scores five goals a game but I’d like to see how he would get on in Italy.”