Maurizio Sarri Exclusive: Passion Play – part two

In part one of an official Chelsea website exclusive yesterday, Maurizio Sarri told us how he first came to be hooked on the game that has become his life. In part two today he speaks about his move into coaching, and about his enjoyment of football in England…

Stia is a small village near to Arrezo in Tuscany. It was my first team where I worked as a coach. At first I only went there because I was a friend of the captain and I did not know if it would be enjoyable but after one or two months, I realised that I liked it very much.

I enjoyed my work in banking for the first years but then the passion for the football was really more important than that job.

Every club after my job at Stia was another step so every season was a challenge. If you went back to those first clubs then, would you recognise the style of play from my teams now? Maybe yes, but every experience took me forward and improved it and the team took steps forward. In the end each experience informed me.

Maybe the fundamental idea then was the same as now but of course it is really different to play the same football with the players of Serie C than with the players of Chelsea. Maybe the football at the match seems different, but the idea was the same.

When I was young and studying in London for my other work in banking, my experience of watching football in English stadiums was good. I did not see it as aggressive, only when English teams played abroad. When I studied in England the atmosphere did not feel threatening. It seemed like fun, it was entertaining, I have always been fascinated by English football.

I am not surprised it was players from Serie A who improved Chelsea in the 1990s. Tactically Serie A is a championship that is very difficult and so as a coach, in Serie A you can improve a lot because tactically every match is very interesting, and difficult. The coach can improve a lot but also players with a couple of seasons in Serie A can improve a lot. In England football is played at another speed with another intensity, but in Italy the match is difficult from the tactical point of view.

I am enjoying working in England as much as I hoped I would because this championship is very competitive and the atmosphere in the stadiums is great. So I am very happy to be in the Premier League. Really very happy.

Even when a game is close I can enjoy it. I can enjoy if the match is a good match. For example, we did not win against Liverpool but I enjoyed the match. It was a very high level, so at the end of the match I was happy with the performance.

I think that one was the best match so far. I think from the tactical point of view, our best performance was at Burnley. But the match was different. I had more fun against Liverpool. Without winning!

For other entertainment away from football I like very much to read, and then to go into the countryside for one hour with my dog.

For reading it is mostly novels. Open – the autobiography Andre Agassi wrote with JR Moehringer who has won the Pulitzer Prize is the best book I have read about sport, but I generally read novels. For example, novels by Mario Vargas Llosa who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010.

But for me for entertainment, the first is football. Because for me football is not work, it is a passion.