Gonzalo Higuain hailed “one of the most wonderful moments of my career” after stepping off the bench to inspire Juventus to a Champions League win over Olympiacos on Wednesday.
Argentina striker Higuain had scored just twice in 2017-18 prior to the fixture at Allianz Stadium, with compatriot Paulo Dybala not only stealing the headlines but also marginalising him from Massimiliano Allegri’s attack.
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But the former Napoli man proved his worth, scoring 10 minutes after coming on and then playing a key role in Mario Mandzukic’s goal that completed a 2-0 triumph.
Higuain insisted his stodgy start to the campaign had not burdened him, but laid bare how much the timely intervention meant.
“I didn’t feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I always felt free,” Higuain said.
“I’ve been playing in Europe for over 10 years and have always scored a lot of goals, so I was not remotely disturbed.
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“The important thing is to keep working in silence, as that is what gets you back to the result. I am not disturbed by criticism or insults, it’s all about having faith in yourself.
“Anyone can talk now, but those who really matter are the ones who stay close to you even when things are going badly.
“The credit goes to those who stood by me, who helped me and my team-mates who ran to hug me. This was one of the most wonderful moments of my career.”
Juve captain Gianluigi Buffon was keen to direct all plaudits for the victory towards Higuain.
“Once this game is over, everyone will give credit to Allegri, the club, the president. No,” he said.
“The credit goes all to Higuain. He deserves it, he had to give the response on the field and he did that. I’m happy he broke through, as we needed him and we need his goals.”