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Interview with AS Roma’s gritty Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan

AP DIASTAR TEST

Genoa’s Sime Vrsaljko, left, vies for the ball with Roma’s Radja Nainggolan, during a Serie A soccer match between Genoa and Roma, at Genoa’s Luigi Ferraris Stadium, Italy, Sunday, May 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Tano Pecoraro)

AP

It hasn’t come easy for Radja Nainggolan, but the hardy AS Roma midfielder was built for tough play. On loan from Cagliari, the Belgian veteran became a big part of i Lupi‘s success in late 2014 and was expected to be a big part of his club and nation’s charge ahead.

But things don’t always play out as expected. PST had a chance to speak with the 26-year-old on Monday about his Roma success and Belgian omission.
PST: Congrats on the move to Roma and a strong first half-season. What were your feelings when you made the move to Roma?

Radja Nainggolan: “I’m very happy, it’s a great club that was already doing very well before I got here. My teammates have been great in making me feel part of the team right away, I’m very happy.”

PST: How excited are you at the prospect of Champions League football next year?

RN: “The Champions League was a dream and is now a reality, I’m very happy and we will have to prove that we deserved it.”

PST: Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman (when healthy)... how competitive is training every day?

RN: “Competition is good and healthy for the team, it keeps everyone from doing anything but their best. They are great players and I think the players who will play will be the ones who proved they deserve it.”

PST: Obviously we know Roma can compete for the Serie A title, but do you think you can be a threat in the UCL in your first year back?

RN: “This year we did our best and will continue doing so. Right now we need to focus on giving everything next season, the rest will come.”

PST: I’m sure it’s hard to be on the stand-by list for World Cup, but it’s a great honor and it shows how deep Belgium is. What are the expectations for the nation in Brazil?

RN: “I was expecting to be in the 23 to make the team to be honest. There are a lot of great players, unfortunately I wasn’t chosen and I have accepted this and will certainly support the team.”

Follow @nicholasmendola