Dybala: Rome, the shortest route for Qatar

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BUENOS AIRES (AP) – Every crisis is an opportunity and Paulo Dybala knows it well.

After seven seasons with Juventus in Italy, the Argentinian striker was fired just in the year of the World Cup in Qatar. Until a call from coach José Mourinho changed his luck.

“The fact that I was without a contract made me completely doubt what would happen to my level of football,” Dybala recalled in interviews with two sports channels in Argentina on Wednesday. “It was unexpected because I had to extend a contract but then things changed on the side of the club and the manager… Mourinho opened the doors for me to have the opportunity to reach Roma.”

Dybala, 28, is part of Argentina’s squad who will face Honduras and Jamaica in pre-World Cup friendlies over the next few days. Having made a promising start at Roma – he has scored four goals – is the ‘jewel’ in the race for the 26-man squad coach Lionel Scaloni will bring to Qatar.

The attacker, who regularly replaces star Lionel Messi in his country’s national team, admitted Mourinho’s reputation was as crucial in defining his future as Scaloni’s advice to find a club that would guarantee him continuity ahead of the World Cup.

“The people who work with me wanted to make the best decision because they knew all the upcoming projects. It happened very quickly, it was a weekend when Mourinho called me and we had several conversations,” revealed Dybala. “Sometimes you have a picture of him because you see him on the pitch, but I’m very happy, at Roma to be. They treat me very well, if you feel good you can perform better.”

Mourinho stated a few days ago that “Scaloni might owe us a bottle of wine to celebrate winning back an elite player for Qatar.”

Dybala doesn’t know if Scaloni complied with the request but he is happy with his performance in the Italian league and barring injuries he will surely play his second World Cup.

“Qatar is an illusion for everyone,” he said of the Albiceleste’s chances. “Two titles were won (for the Copa América and the Finalissima against Italy) … a nice atmosphere was created and we felt that too. There is trust and a good mood. You have to stay calm and keep going the same way.”

Argentina, world champions in 1978 and 1986, make their debut against Saudi Arabia in Group C, which also includes Mexico and Poland, on November 22.

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