The Argentine left Serie A for Sevilla last January but has only now revealed his motivation
Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez has claimed he left Atalanta in January because head coach Gian Piero Gasperini tried to “physically attack” him in the dressing room at half-time of a Champions League match against Midtjylland.
The allegation, which had not been made previously, helps explain why the Argentine forward abruptly exited an organisation he captained and had come to openly love.
Gomez said he asked club president Antonio Percassi for a transfer when Gasperini refused to apologise to him, but he claimed Percassi would not allow him to join any other Serie A clubs despite his desire to remain in Italy.
What has been said?
“I disobeyed him in a tactical indication,” Gomez told newspaper newspaper La Nacion of how the controversy began. “There were 10 minutes left until the first half was over and he asked me to play on the right, while I was playing very well on the left. And I said no.
“Having done that in the middle of the game, with the cameras … it was perfectly [fine] that he got angry. I already knew that at half-time he was going to take me out, and so [he did].
“But in the halftime locker room he exceeded the limits and tried to physically attack me.”
Gomez continued: “When there is physical aggression, it is already intolerable. So I asked for a meeting with the president of the club, Antonio Percassi, and I told him that I had no problem continuing, accepting that I had been wrong: as a captain I had not behaved well, I had been a bad example disobeying the coach.
“But I told the president that I needed an apology from Gasperini.”
That apology never arrived, however, which essentially ended the relationship between Gomez and the organisation.
“The next day there was a meeting of the entire team,” the player said. “I apologised to the coach and my teammates for what had happened. And I did not receive any apology from the coach.
“After a few days I communicated to the president that I did not want to be at Atalanta working with Gasperini. The president told me that he was not going to let me out, that he was not going to release me. The tug of war began and the costs were for me that they separated me from the squad and I ended up training only with the reserves.
“It was ugly because after seven years they left me lying there, after everything I gave the club. They behaved badly. The president did not have the balls to ask the coach to simply apologise to me. That was the end of everything.”
Gomez addresses Atalanta fans
“People don’t know what happened, so I’m just now telling it,” he said. “People are going to know the truth now, and they deserve it and I deserve it.
“From one day to the next, I disappeared. The journalists stopped asking about me in Atalanta, nor do they ask my ex-teammates. It’s like I stopped existing for Atalanta.
I think their intention was to place all the blame on me. And the truth is not that. “And people, perhaps, are angry with me because it is thought that I did not want to continue in Atalanta, or it is believed that I preferred to go to Seville for more money. None of that. It was time for the fans to know the truth.”