Veteran Italy international Giorgio Chiellini says in his new book that he admires Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez for biting him during the 2014 World Cup.
The controversial incident led to Suarez being banned for nine international matches, ending his World Cup prematurely and forcing him to miss the 2015 Copa America.
But rather than hold a grudge, 35-year-old Chiellini revealed his admiration for now Barcelona forward Suarez in his new book Io, Giorgio.
“Malice is part of football, I wouldn’t call it illegitimate,” Chiellini wrote.
“To get past a rival you have to be smart.
“I admire his cunning. If he lost it, he’d become an ordinary forward.”
The veteran’s book, whereby the profits will go to the insuperabili charity during the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit Italy hard, has attracted controversy for his criticism of ex-teammates Felipe Melo and Mario Balotelli.
He also explained the context of the fateful day at the 2014 World Cup against Uruguay in Natal, where the South Americans triumphed to progress into the last 16 ahead of Italy.
“I marked (Edinson) Cavani for most of the match, another guy who is difficult to mark and who we didn’t hold back against,” he wrote.
“Suddenly I noticed that I had been bitten in the shoulder.
“It just happened, but that’s his strategy in hand-to-hand combat and, if I may say so, it’s mine too.
“He and I are alike, and I like to take on attackers like him.”