Maurizio Sarri said his appointment as Juventus coach was “the crowning” moment of his 30-year managerial career as the former Chelsea manager was presented by the Serie A giants in Turin yesterday.
The 60-year-old returns to Italy after just one turbulent season in the Premier League with Chelsea, having previously coached his hometown team Napoli for three seasons. Juventus is the 20th team that Sarri has coached since the former banker took over at Stia, a team in the Italian eighth division back in 1990.
“The offer of Juve, the most important team in Italy, is the crowning of a very long career, which for 80% of the time has been quite difficult,” Sarri told a press conference at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. Sarri, decked out in a Juventus team suit and tie rather than his usual tracksuit, was asked if he would adapt to the Juventus style.
“I don’t know what the Juventus style is,” said the Neapolitan who once famously gave the middle finger to some Juventus fans.
“Suit and tie or tracksuit? I have to talk to the club. I would prefer not to wear the suit and tie on the pitch. The important thing is that at my age, they don’t send me out naked onto the pitch.”
Despite his long coaching career Sarri only lifted his first trophy last month when he guided Chelsea to the Europa League trophy. “From an emotional point of view, it was a very long path through the lower divisions and then Serie A and then Premier League. “It has been step after step in a gradual way, a very long process.”
Chelsea was the only time Sarri has coached outside of Italy but he failed to win over the English fans despite returning the club to the Champions League with a third-placed finish in the Premier League and winning the Europa League.
“The Premier League was a great experience, but in the latter half (of the season), I felt professional and personal needs to return to Italy,” he said. “I decided to come back to Italy because such an important club wanted me so strongly. I have never seen so much determination on the part of a club to hire a coach.”
Sarri takes over from Massimiliano Allegri, who led Juventus to an eighth consecutive Scudetto title. “He was absolutely the first choice,” said Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici of Sarri. “We chose Maurizio because we felt he was the best coach for Juventus right now, just as Allegri was five years ago and (Antonio) Conte three years before that. Sarri showed he can win in the Premier League and internationally, so he’s the right man for the job.”
Alegri paid the price for another Champions League failure despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100-million-euro ($115mn) signing. Sarri said he was relishing the chance to coach five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo.
“I coached some very strong players, but training him will be yet another step forward,” he said. “I’d like to help him break some new records.”
The Champions League is the top target for Juventus who have not won the European title since 1996. “At European level we have this dream, this target we have to pursue with great determination but also great difficulty,” he said. “Juventus will start with the target of winning the Champions League but with the knowledge there are another eight or nine clubs that can win.”
The former Empoli coach said that he would try to prove his critics wrong once again. “I arrive surrounded by sceptics, but then I always am. I had the same at Empoli, Napoli and Chelsea. In football, I know only one way of removing scepticism from the minds of people by winning convincingly.
“I haven’t won a lot, but I believe that having fun on the pitch doesn’t stop you winning. You can’t think that just because a team is having fun they are superficial and not determined.”
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