De Zerbi

De Zerbi: ‘Between Maradona and Messi, I choose Diego’


Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi says he would pick Diego Maradona over Lionel Messi: ‘he was able to bring to football what he was in life.’ The Italian coach was speaking with BoboTV and talked about a number of topics, including the Messi v Maradona debate, his style of football, an eventual return to coaching in Italy and youngster Giacomo Raspadori:

Messi-Maradona comparison, who do you pick?

“Maradona always, because he was able to bring to football what he was in life, he was able to make equiparations in life and football, so he moved people, he moved everything. Probably as a player Messi has something more, however Maradona had a charisma like few men not in football but in life.”

“I also respected Maradona as a person because in private life, each of us does what we want, clearly if you are a character you also have responsibilities. When Maradona died, the next day in the locker room in Sassuolo, I talked for half an hour about him to the players. Because what Maradona had given me as a child no one had ever given me, also as a person both on and off the field.”

“As a football player probably Messi did more. I liked Messi at the World Cup when he went to Van Gaal. He showed pride, character.”

“When Maradona talks about taking power away from the North in the years when teams in the South never won. Maradona exposed himself, he always paid his own way.”

On De Zerbi’s eventual return to Italy

“I love Italy, our football , because I am Italian, I am happy there now, I never had a doubt to come to Brighton this year. I asked for a renewal and the player renewed. I get along very well with everyone at Brighton, there is no team that can change my mind, I made a commitment.

“I will hopefully come back to Italy, I don’t know when, if I get the chance. But I tell you I like being outside, the emotions I am experiencing in England, the stadiums, then I improve the language, I know their football . You become master of the league when you go over 100 games.”


“For me it’s a nine he’s not a ten.”

Tactics and the relationship with talent.

“All the Italian press portrays me as a football sicko, the philosopher. They didn’t understand anything. It is true that I am ‘sick’ with tactics but the tactical aspect in my work does not exceed 25-30%, the rest is management, management in my own way without following canons. I was complicated in management as a football player. And precisely because I was complicated I can probably understand complex people more easily. The most complex are the most sensitive and the most sensitive are the most intelligent. If you are loyal to them, they pay you back ten times more than a normal person. All talents have a dark side, who gives you the most are the talents, who makes you win games? The talents. I like to waste time with them, make them improve. I like to keep the unmanageable ones, they are almost always the strongest and the purest.”

Ball possession

“In talking they can all talk, someone who has won can talk and someone who hasn’t won, can’t? Who said that? Did Spalletti, in order to talk, have to prove he won the Scudetto with Napoli? Or Guardiola the Champions League? These things hurt me. Ball possession is not needed? bullshit. If you have ten balls and the other has four, of course the other can win because he exploited his four well and I badly my ten. But it is mathematics. Then it’s clear that ball possession must go hand in hand with shots on goal, it doesn’t apply if we play, back and forth to one another.”


Serie A obsessive.