With global album sales totalling more than 55 million, Eros Ramazzotti is undoubtedly one of Italy's most popular and successful recording artists. Starting with his breakthrough hit single Terra Promessa in 1984, the singer-songwriter has wowed the masses and built a reputation stretching way beyond the confines of his home country, making him one of the best-known and most popular stars of the music industry.
Ramazzotti is regarded as an outstanding live performer, consistently earning rave reviews as a singer and entertainer. The Rome-born musician has just played back-to-back gigs in Zurich, thrilling the huge sell-out crowds on both evenings.
While in the city, the passionate football fan seized the chance of a visit to Home of FIFA, where Ramazzotti dropped in for a chat with FIFA President Joseph S Blatter and an interview with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Eros, welcome to Home of FIFA
Eros Ramazzotti: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here in this wonderful building. I've played two truly fantastic concerts here in Zurich. The Zurich public are just unbelievable, so warm and welcoming. A big thank you to all my fans here.
How passionate are you about football?
Hey, that's basically not a question you should be putting to an Italian… (laughs). As an Italian, you're born with football in your blood. All that matters to Italians is football and music. And we're a nation of head coaches. We always know best how our favourite teams should play. Football is in our genes. Football has always been the easiest way of forgetting the day-to-day grind in our country.
What are the similarities between football and music?
A musician or a melody last for eternity, and so do certain moments in football. On the other hand, you go through a range of emotions during a game. Music can be very emotional too. Music and football bring people together. Here I am at FIFA, so I'd say the spotlight is on football here. The way people all over the world really love this fantastic sport is unbelievable.
But FIFA can and must continue to help the people who perhaps don't have the resources to live and experience football the way we can. It's a vital task. Like music, football connects people, and that's not to be taken as a throwaway slogan. It's a fact.
It's hard to believe, but you'll be 50 in late October. Let's turn back the clock instead, and ask you about your footballing idols as a kid.
I fondly recall the period in the 70s with a really strong Brazil team, featuring the likes of Rivelino and naturally Pele. Later I became passionate about Dutch football thanks to players like Johnny Rep and Johan Cruyff. As for the Italians of that period, I really liked Gigi Riva and Roberto Bettega, and obviously a little later on Michel Platini and all the other big stars who make the game so unbelievable.
Do you still play at all?
Not any more, no. I was a regular for the Italian musicians’ national team from the late 1980s. We organised lots of benefit matches all over Italy. It really was an amazing time.
What was your best position?
I was a striker. I liked to come down the left and tack into the middle so I could shoot with my right foot. Opposing goalkeepers learned to fear my right foot.
You're a Juventus fan, so you must be satisfied with the current season.
I've been very satisfied for the last two years actually. Coach Antonio Conte has done an outstanding job and it's been a real boost for the team. The Agnelli family made it possible for that to happen. It's the start of a new era at Juve and it's set to last - although I'm extremely concerned about the new era of success starting at Bayern Munich (laughs). I hope Juventus sign a couple of good players and keep on developing. And now there's a wonderful new stadium too. Constructing the Juventus Stadium was another huge step forward for the club.
Are you looking forward to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil? How far do you think Italy could go?
Our Squadra Azzurra is always unpredictable. They usually put up a strong showing at major tournaments. But we simply have too many non-Italian players in our league, making it difficult for a national coach to find the best Italian players for every position. It's not only a problem for Italy, because other countries are facing the same situation. Brazil and Argentina are favourites to win it, but we have good character, and Cesare Prandelli is a good coach. I have complete faith in him. I'm convinced we'll have a magnificent World Cup.
First of all, Italy contest the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer. What's the significance of this dress rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup?
I'm confident. The Confederations Cup is a wonderful thing, the antipasto to the World Cup. It's fantastic to have such a quality tournament prior to the World Cup. I love my football, so I'll definitely watch all the matches. I hope Italy go a long way.
Can you describe football with one of your hits? And if so, which one?
There can only be the one: “Musica è”, because football is music!