maybe im a little behind, dont know if this has been posted. but ill put in anyway.
Goal.com's Sergio Stanco caught up with "Spiderman," Walter Zenga, for a lengthy phone chat while Zenga took in Paris.
There are those who acquire everything in life with ease and naturalness. And there are those who instead prefer to fight, surpass obstacles, climb mountains, and claw their way up from the bottom. But ďthe harder the fight, the more satisfaction in winningĒ is a saying that fits perfectly to Walter Zenga.
ďSpiderman,Ē as Zenga was nicknamed, is a well-traveled man, having played and coached all over the world. He enjoyed one of the most important careers in Italian football history, but has made a name for himself as a coach away from his homeland.
He started his coaching career in 1999 in America, with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer. Then he took over National Bucharest, before joining Romanian giants Steaua Bucharest, where he won a league title in 2001. Finally, this year, he assumed the reins at legendary Serbian side Red Star Belgrade, which is currently competing for the UEFA Cup.
Zengaís CV not only confirms his enjoyment in playing the vagabond, but also proves his bold character. Throughout his career, as both a player and a coach, Zenga has never feared the difficult choice or the impervious path, but in the end the results have always repaid him.
And his feisty, nomadic nature was still in evidence when we recently reached him on his Serbian mobile phone. He was in Paris.
Walter, what are you doing in Paris? Iím here for family reasons. (laughs) But you write whatever pleases you. I insist. (helal-his joking about that paris incidents recently)
Really? No, Iím joking. Itís my wifeís birthday. Iím here to celebrate.
Well, you yourself have little to celebrate considering the recent UEFA Cup defeat of your Partizan at home against Basel: First of all, you talk about Partizan with someone else. I coach the great Red Star, which is different. Itís like telling Ancelotti that he coaches Inter. Be careful please. (helal- man what a strong character)
Sorry. We played in the empty Maracanŗ. You canít understand how much strength that full stadium, which sings continuously, can give you -- and vice versa. How difficult it is to play behind closed doors. Anyway, donít worry. Weíll bounce back.
That sounds like a threat to your friend Luciano Spalletti, manager of Roma? By the way, where did this friendship start from? From the Padova times. That is, I was playing with Padova in Serie B, and he was coaching Empoli. Even though I didnít know him directly, I publicly said that he was a good coach who knew how to make his teams play well. Since then, we have spoken regularly. We challenge each other, and a straightforward and honest relationship was born -- just like our characters.
Do you talk to other colleagues? Yes. I regularly talk to my former teammate [Andrea] Mandorlini, and up till some time ago, I was in contact with [Claudio] Ranieri. At the beginning of my foreign experience, he was very important for me. He advised me, as he had already gone through certain difficulties. Then last year, my Steaua defeated his Valencia in the UEFA Cup, and that defeat cost him his job. It was the last thing I wanted, but thatís destiny. I let some time pass by, but he never called me again, and that hurt me a bit. I never had the strength to make the first step. But theyíre not the only ones with whom I have relationships; I created a small community on the Internet. Some write to me. They ask me for advice, and I ask them in return. We discuss things. Itís interesting. In fact, I have even thought of using my personal website as a sort of bulletin board, where one could talk about tactics, technical aspects, and so on. Privately, I already do that, but turning it public could be an interesting initiative for the future.
Back to the present, to your Red Star: How would you assess this new adventure? Iím enthusiastic. The club asked me to get through to the UEFA Cup group stage, and we did it. Weíre also first in the league with a 5-point lead. So for now, everything is going well.
Yes, but in the UEFA Cup, you suffered your first defeat, and on November 30 you will face Roma. Well, some difficult games must be anticipated. The UEFA Cup is a prestigious competition, and we hold it very dear. But from the economic point of view, it does not give you anything. On the contrary. It takes away energy and resources. We donít have a big squad. We cannot afford the turnover, and in the long run, we will pay something for it. Itís inevitable.
But will you feel some emotion against the Giallorossi? No, I wonít. In the end, this is the third year that I have competed in the UEFA Cup. In the previous two, I obtained good results. And this time, we will be playing at home. At the Olimpico, it would probably be a different story. So I would say that itís rather pleasant, an honor, to meet a coach I usually only watch on television. Because I see him, but he does not see me. This is the difference.
Any controversy? Maybe something like ďItaly has forgotten Walter Zenga, who is doing well abroadĒ? No controversy. Iím satisfied with what I have done and with what Iím doing. I enjoy coaching, and if I had to go to Australia or Saudi Arabia to do it, you can be sure that I would. And then, some people forget that I have now coached two of the most prestigious Eastern European clubs, two of the few who can boast a win in the Champions League. And not only am I the first Italian to do so, but also the first foreigner to do so in their history. For me this is an honor. Iím convinced that many Italian coaches would forge documents in order to coach Red Star. As you can see Iím not doing too badly.
Your tone, however, sounds a bit sharp. Or am I wrong? If I had to be sincere, Iíd say this: What really annoys me is that people think coaching abroad is easy. The reality is, the tensions are still high and the clubs are always demanding. Itís not that if you lose here, the fans are less angry. On the contrary. And anyway, you have to face difficult leagues and fierce opponents. Itís not just a walk in the park. You also have to get used to new cultures, different lifestyles. And Iíd like to hear those people speak Serbian. You should hear how funny I sound. Iím stubborn and want to learn to speak their language at all costs, because I believe itís a sign of respect, but let me hear you speak Serbian -- itís really a mess. We communicate with each other with signs, a bit of English, and my translator. Do you know him? Borislav Cevtkovic, formerly with Ascoli. He was the one who drove Tonino Carino crazy, because Carino was unable to pronounce his name during the connections to ď90į minuto.Ē Then, of course, the president here is Dragan Stojkovic, formerly of Verona and Pescara. With these two, I speak Italian. But with the players, itís really difficult.
Ok, now we know youíre fine in Belgrade. But if you could bring someone from Italy to keep you company and help you win something, who would you choose? Cristiano Lucarelli.
Lucarelli? Why him? Because I respect him as a man and a player. Heís great! We played together at Padova, and I learned to know him. I would bring him straight away with me. But he earns too much. To come here to Red Star, he would have to write another book. (laughs)
What about coaches? Who has been your guide, your mentor? I must say [Sven-Goran] Eriksson, from my two years at Sampdoria. And then the great Thomas Rongen.
Thomas who? (laughs) He was my coach with the New England Revolution. Heís Dutch, but emigrated to America. He comes from the Ajax school. He was fundamental to me. However, if I had to say a current name, Iíd say [Fabio] Capello. No one is better than him. The other day, I read something he said in an interview: ďI win because I decide.Ē I think that in that phrase is all of Fabioís strength. I would be happy to exchange just a few words with people like him. Like Mourinho and Wenger, just to name a few.
Didnít you forget someone? Trap? No, I didnít. Iíll just tell you one thing: When [Trapattoni] left Inter, he left each one of us a small card, predicting our future. Only for Mandorlini did he predict a coaching career. Well, he was very wrong.
You told us who you would take to Belgrade with you. Is there anyone you would take with you to Italy if someone offered you a bench . . . unless someone already has . . . No, in Italy no one has offered me an opportunity. There was just a pleasant chat with Sartori and Campedelli this summer, but I think it was just a courtesy gesture. Regardless, I reflect on it with a lot of pleasure. However, with me at Red Star there are six first team players from the Under-21 team and four from the full national team. The oldest player in my team was born in 1978. I think that says it all. Then, if I had to look outside of Red Star, just three kilometres away from me, thereís a real phenomenon. His name is [Slobodan] Rajkovic. Heís a defender, born in 1989. He has extraordinary class and personality. But the rumor is that Chelsea and Arsenal are already after him.
Listen, not to depress you after all these nice things you told us, but . . . There it is. Youíre about to ask a question about Inter, right? I will spare you the trouble. As a fan, I suffer. Itís useless to hide it. Every year, I believe that itís the right one. I sit in front of the TV for all of the matches, and I say, ďCome on, today we win, and it will be the turning point.Ē But instead, nothing. Donít ask me to give you reasons. I will never reply. For three reasons: Iím far away, I side with Inter, and Iím a coach. For these reasons, I think itís only fair for me not to comment.
Ok, I wonít insist. We will wait for you at the end, when you will be closer to Inter or maybe more inside, and then you will have to give us answers. We hope this in your future. Thanks for your availability. Thanks to you and see you soon.
man what a character, i cant wait till the day that a coach with his strong personality comes to inter. He will put the players back in their place.