MILAN – Nerazzurri defender Jonathan spoke to journalists at the Marriott Hotel in Milan on the sidelines of the 19th Gentleman Awards, where he was named Inter’s Revelation of the Year.
He began by revealing what the prize means to him: "This is an important award in what has been a huge season for me. I wanted to prove what I can do. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and I hope to do well again next season. I thank Mazzarri and his backroom staff, my family, who have always been right behind me, and all the fans who have believed in me as a footballer.
"We’re at a crucial stage of the season and we have to summon all our strength. We lost against one of our main rivals but we realise this is the time for us to show how strong we are. It’s Lazio next, a massive game. We have to win it to prove how good we are and take another step closer to Europe.
"Zanetti? This is a happy moment for him and for the rest of us. We’re right behind him because he’s a great player besides being our captain. He’s been an important player not only for Inter but for football in general. We know he’ll be emotional just like lots of other people will, our fans included, but as he’s said himself, what matters most on Saturday is the game: we have to win it so that he can be even happier.
"Is the team behind Mazzarri? 100%. If I could ask the club for one thing it would be for him to stay, because he’s a coach who wants to win and he gets angry when it doesn’t happen. I think he’s a perfect coach for Inter and hopefully he will remain. I’m rooting for him. Now we need to get Inter into the Europa League, then it will be even easier for the club to go down that route.
"Can we win things under Mazzarri? Of course we can. He wants to win all the time and when we don’t, we learn from our mistakes the next day. He’s always talking to us individually to help us learn from our mistakes. With a few more quality additions that he’ll ask the club for, Inter can be even better next season and challenge for the big prizes like the Champions League and the Scudetto – that’s where Inter should be.
"The fans aren’t happy after the derby but we’re in the running for a Europa League spot. It’s a particular moment in which they have to stand even closer to the team and the coach. We must win our last two games, starting with this one against Lazio: we need the fans to make themselves heard and spur the team on until the end.
"The dressing room reaction after the derby was good. It was a game no one wanted to lose but we’re all firmly behind the coach. He knows he has the team’s backing and there’s a great atmosphere in our dressing room. We have to move on from defeat against AC Milan and think about Lazio. When you lose a game, people start saying the coach has lost the dressing room, that he’s furious, but it’s not true. We have to be sure about what we have to do and then put it into practice against Lazio on Saturday.
"Zanetti not playing in the derby? All the coach’s decisions are taken for the good of the team. If he decided not to play him there’ll have been a reason for it. I’m sure he made the choice thinking about how to win the game, even though we didn’t manage to, but it’s a choice he’s made in other games as well. The derby is not a normal game but the coach is aware of what he’s done and what he still needs to do. We’re all behind him.
"You can learn so much from Zanetti. He’s a magnificent professional, in everything he does. You can count the injuries he’s had on one hand. It’s a shame he’s about to leave the game but he’ll always be close to our team.
"Nilton? I know him and I’ve played alongside him but that’s the sort of thing for the club to discuss."