Azzurri coach Luciano Spalletti shared his thoughts on the appointment of Daniele De Rossi as new Roma manager: ‘Watch out for professional scaremongers’. De Rossi was confirmed as coach yesterday, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, and speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Spalletti expressed his happiness at seeing one his former players managing his boyhood club:
Spalletti, what does it feel like to see De Rossi on the Roma bench?
“A good feeling: I’m happy, I smile. I always hug my players, I’m close to them when they face new experiences. I also do it with those who then don’t return the hug, but that’s certainly not the case with Daniele: he’s always given me everything back.
You found him at Roma when he was still a boy.
“He was an extraordinary footballer, because he had the sense of the team. He had strong feelings for his teammates, he fought for them. I don’t remember a single game, or a single moment of a match, in which he failed in this respect. A generous, sensitive champion: sometimes he lost sight of himself, never Roma.
As a footballer he also knew how to be tough on the pitch.
“I felt happy every time I coached someone like him. Sometimes there was no need for him to emerge with his personality, he played very well as a director and cleaned up any ball without putting character on the pitch because he didn’t need it. But at the decisive moment he would slip in and take everything away. Of course he will have an advantage now.
‘He won’t be able to slip in anymore, so he’ll save himself those three or four days of disqualification he used to get every year’.
How should De Rossi experience this new adventure?
“With great joy. It’s the decisive crossroads for him, here it’s determined whether he will double his wonderful career in football: he had it as a player, he can live it as a coach. I’m sure he will be overjoyed. Do you know how I imagine him tonight, before falling asleep?”.
How do you imagine it?
“Like children jumping on the bed in their pyjamas, unable to stop, excited because they have just received the thing they want most in the world”.
But coaching Roma will present him with many difficulties.
‘He will have to beware above all of the professional scaremongers: he won’t have to be afraid of them’.
And who are they, the professional frighteners?
‘Those who will remind him every five minutes that he risks so much, that he has no experience, that it would have been better if he had arrived at Roma later’.
By the way: you, Spalletti, started coaching pupils. Wouldn’t such a path have been more useful for De Rossi too?
“Let’s not joke. If someone had said to me: ‘Do you want Roma or do you prefer to start with the trainees?’ I would have replied: ‘You start with the trainees, I’ll take Roma’.”
De Rossi has already had one experience on the bench, at Spal, and it was not a happy one.
“But what happened to him is a great help. When these champions start coaching, they think that the level of the players they have in their hands is the same as the one they had and they risk losing references. Now they know better what it means to be on the bench.
Have you heard from him in these hours?
“Eh, he always has whatsapp open: we have an ongoing relationship – how should I put it? – whatsappian’.
If he consults with you often, does that mean we should expect a Spalletti-esque Roma?
“I don’t know which Roma we will see, he certainly has a good team. And I will follow him closely, because he has several players that I am interested in for the national team. When we resume our tour of the retreats, one of the first we’ll visit will be the Giallorossi. I’ll be sorry not to see Mourinho, but I’ll be happy to see him. I know the motivation inside Daniele well, the hope is that they can give further energy to the engine of our A team.
Neither should he fear the environment in Rome?
‘But he knows it perfectly, often with Francesco he has taken responsibility in complicated situations. The piazza will love him, just as it loved Mourinho. And Daniele will really be able to try to crown a dream: his Roma all his life as a player, his Roma all his life as a coach’.