TV cameras and cell phones record the celebrations of the championship of the A series Italian players from the Juventus in the privacy of the locker room, and in the middle of them, without shouting, very calm, the coach Maurizio Sarri appears bathed in the champagne foam but unable to put aside his eternal companion, the cigarette.
Sarri knows well what it took to reach stardom. Had to go through 22 seasons managing 17 teams of Italian ascent from the Eighth division until he was finally able to reach the First with Émpoli when he was already 55 years old, and after having been Bank employee, a job he promised to leave if he progressed as technical director.
He was born in Naples on January 10, 1959, but grew up in Vaggio, in the Tuscany area, between Arezzo and Firenze, because his father, Amerigo, who made a living operating a crane for construction companies and as an employee of Max Mayer and Pirelli, was also a good cyclist, whom Gastone Nencini, winner of the Tour de France in 1960, could not convince to join his team. Her idols were Eddie Merckx and Marco Pantani. "Cycling taught me that if you don't give everything, you don't get anywhere," he said in an interview. He also declares himself an admirer of the Olympic athletes Pietro Mennea and Sara Simeoni.
"My father taught me to love all sports and I liked to ride my bicycle until I was 12 years old, but I always weighed myself down because what I loved most was playing soccer", Sarri related, to whom as a player, in the Figlinese, they called El Seco – "a gladiator", would say the great journalist Gianni Brera, for whom every Tuesday he bought La Repubblica to read his chronicles. Everyone in Figline was swelled by Milan, Inter, Juve, Fiorentina. I was the only one from Nápoli ”.
When he talks about his family history, Sarri always highlights his pride for his grandfather Gofredo, a partisan, and for a role he had in the White House with recognition that he recovered the pilots of a downed American plane in Val D'Arno, the hid from the shots and handed them over to the English allies as they passed through the front. “One of them was called John Lanza. I know this because his daughter and nephew wrote a book about it. "
Without having looked too much as a footballer, in the mid-90s he launched himself as technical director of teams for the promotion in teams of Tuscany, where he lived, from the Eighth category. He was on the bench of Stia, Faellese, Valdema (with whom he came to play the play-offs), Cavriglia until he brought Antella to the "Eccelenza" (Fifth Division), although one of his best moments was when with Sansovino he achieved two consecutive promotions in 2000, from Fifth to C2 and with the Serie D Italian Cup included.
That year was key. It was when he earned the nickname of "Mister 33 Schemi" ("Mister 33 Schemes") or, directly, "Mister 33", because he worked down to the last detail and always had many tactical variants for the different occasions that arose in games. “Since I didn't play soccer at a high level, many believed that I was a fool. The "Mister 33 diagrams" was only because in the Sansovino I lasted longer and the diagrams I used were accumulating, "Sarri relativized, little affect on the phrases made when dialoguing with the press.
It was when he was managing the Sansovino that he made a promise: if he was promoted, he would definitely leave his job at the bank, which he did. "He was employed at the Montepaschi. I dealt with interbank transactions and traveled throughout Europe. I think he could have done both, but not closed the office at 17 and then went to training, and that was when I stopped, "he said years later.
In 2004 he promoted the Sangiovannese to C1 and the following year he was able to keep it in the category. His first jump was in the 2005/06 season when he had to lead Pescara in Serie B, which came from C and managed to stay in the category. In 2006/07 he coached Arezzo for five months, replacing Antonio Conte (something that would be repeated in the future, although at a much higher level), and reached the quarterfinals of the Italian Cup. He was eliminated by Milan, who that year would be champion of the Champions and of the world (winning the final to Boca in Japan): he prevailed in the rematch, although it did not reach him by goal difference. However, he was kicked out soon after.
For the 2007/08 season he was going to coach Avellino, but after losing at home to Ascoli for the Italia Cup, he resigned from what he considered a lack of organization and, in fact, the team descended to Series C at the end of the season. . In that season in the Pro League (ex C1) he replaced Davide Pellegrini at Hellas Verona, with a three-year contract, but he left shortly after and did not last long in Perugia, where he was fired in February 2009 and at end of 2009/10 took Grossetto in the last three dates and could not count on Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla (injured). In 2010, he was close to promoting to Serie B with Alessandria, who came third, but was eliminated by Salernitana in the playoffs in the semifinals. And in 2011 he was kicked out of Sorrento when the team was sixth.
At last, things began to change when in 2012/13 he coached Émpoli in Serie B, he was fourth but lost the final of the promotion with Livorno. However, he continued in the team and in the following season he promoted to Serie A and managed to stay in the category in 2014/15 practicing good football, which earned him the "Silver Lion 2015" award.
It was at Émpoli when he obtained a definitive recognition for his agile and offensive style, and when his personality was more exposed, such as when he allowed a rival DT, Sinisa Mijailovic, to attend his training. "There is nothing to say. In soccer, ideas must circulate, not be under lock and key. I was also helped by colleagues like Spalletti, Delneri, Ventura. The maniacs of closed-door training make me laugh, ”he said when they tried to question him for this measure.
Big football started for him in the 2015/16 season, when he was hired by Napoli instead of the Spanish Rafa Benítez. Filmmaker Aurelio de Laurentis, owner of the club, considered the operation "a bargain" because Sarri accepted a salary of 900,000 euros a year. "They pay me for what I would have done for free," replied DT. “It is the ideal place to train because there is harmony between society, the fans and the team. If a player misses three passes in a row, he can miss a fourth without removing his skin, ”he said when he came to take over the team he is a fan of. He was in Milan's plans but they told him that this club was looking for someone already established. "That's stupid. Soccer is full of common places. The one who is good, is good on the pitch and on the bench, in Series A as in Series B. I arrived with 25 years of bench on my back and 15 years of footballer"He asserted.
After a hesitant start, he thrashed Bruges 5-0 in the Europa League and for the same result to Lazio for Serie A, defeated Juventus 2-1 at San Paolo and 4-0 against Milan at San Siro. The press began to talk about "revolution" of a team with very few hires, and that ended the tournament with 82 points and with Gonzalo Higuaín (player whom he later took to Chelsea and Juventus) as top scorer and runner-up in Serie A , behind Juventus although he had managed to be the leader when finishing the first wheel.
In the 2016/17 season, he had to play with Napoli in the Champions League and was eliminated by Real Madrid (later champion) in the round of 16, and by Juventus in the semifinals of the Italian Cup. He was also third in the League with 86 points and 94 goals in favor, and in 2017/18 he was runner-up with 91 points.
His great work in an offensive Napoli and with very good technical characteristics caught the attention of the Premier League. Such was the success with the southern Italian team that Even Diego Maradona had to apologize for having doubted his possibilities when he assumed years before without a great resume for his then 55 years. He was also known as “Sarri Potter” and he even used a drone in some training sessions to work the defensive part.
Just like in the days of the Italian ascent, fate wanted me to replace Conte at Chelsea. It was not an easy company: his colleague had won a Premier League title and an FA Cup, but Sarri he managed, in his first season, to be third in the English league, finalist of the League Cup and champion of the Europa League, beating Arsenal 4-1 in a London derby final in Baku. After more than two decades as DT, he got his first professional title.
Then came the present with Juventus, with which he has just won Serie A (for the club, it was his ninth consecutive league title), after having been heavily criticized after losing the final of the Italian Cup by penalties to Napoli in a definition in which the maximum executor of his team, Cristiano Ronaldo, failed to finish. “CR7 and Paulo Dybala make the difference. They did the greatest credit. ”, he pointed out at the celebrations for the new Scudetto of the Turin Vecchia Signora.
"I like teams with a high center of gravity. This makes it easier to score goals. Two midfielders in front of the defense and four players who know how to move quickly in the spaces, even without a ball. The four above must give quality and the rest balance. I could notice that 75% of goals come from quick actions, lasting 3-4 seconds. It means having recovered balls and playing them quickly and that we will have accelerated once recovered ”, he usually describes, and clarifies his claims: "I want a team with a tough face, with personality, but I can't park the mic in the back either because it is a game".
“I am not someone who controls the players. Free time is theirs, but they know from the first day that with me you are going to a thousand for now or you are out. But I am not an iron sergeant. If it were, the players would not talk to me about personal or family problems, ”he clarifies, regarding the treatment with their managers.
Standing 1.89 meters tall, married to Marina and with a son, Nicoló, Sarri is one of the coaches who tries to enjoy his job. “I don't know what stress is yet. As DT there is tension, adrenaline but also joy. If you want to achieve your goals as a coach, you must have high self-esteem, a strong mentality, improve your players, take the leap in quality ”and he is disgusted with the phrase of his colleague Fabio Capello, who said that a coach is like a manager of human resources “if they call me that, I get very angry. I disagree".
Great reader, from the old guard, especially from Charles Bukowski and Mario Vargas Llosa, only conceives to do it on paper. “I only use the PC to analyze soccer. For that it is very useful, but I am not interested in social networks ”, he clarifies. But if there is a writer who loves it, it is John Fante, who usually refers to the emigration of Italians to the United States in the 1930s. His devotion is such that he went on a pilgrimage to his native house.
Politically he defines himself to the left, and is a follower of the unionist of that orientation, Maurizio Landini. "He is a communist who likes money"ironically says filmmaker De Laurentis, with whom he met in Napoli.
He usually says that in the locker room he lets out "two blasphemies" but then he calms down, and although in Calcio he is considered "a rapture." Usually jogging or open shirt, something that he accentuated once he left his position at the bank, and then abandoned his coat and tie.
Chain smoker, being DT of the Émpoli every so often asked a puff to the fans sitting near the bench of substitutes. Graduated in economics and commerce, he is fond of philosophy.
Sarri does not usually keep quiet and feels a clear position when consulted on different topics, but especially soccer. About the increasing violence in the Italian stadiums, he recently spoke out against sports sanctions against clubs “because those who have never done anything wrong for 20 years in the stands cannot pay because of the few. Stadiums are places of impunity that must return to normal. He who opens the window and sees the sun rise and says 'I'm going to the stadium' must be able to go. And those who make mistakes must pay. ”
Do not use pins or scarves to support humanitarian campaigns. "I do not do it because I think it is a role that corresponds to the State, that of investigating cancer or dystrophy, in a civilized country. But I have my doubts about whether Italy is. I know that my grandfather left my father a better Italy and my father left it to me. My generation leaves their children with something worse, more than 20 years of civil and social, ethical and economic drift. I am very concerned about the future. And now I'm not talking about football. "
I KEPT READING:
The photo of Cristiano Ronaldo sunbathing on his USD 3.5 million Bugatti that revealed incredible detail
Guardiola's praise for Zidane before his clash in the Champions League: "What I would have liked to play with him!"