Spalletti reflects ahead of 400th Serie A game as a coach
On Saturday Roma coach Luciano Spalletti will take charge of his 400th Serie A game as a manager.
Across spells at Empoli, Udinese and the Giallorossi (twice), Spalletti has enjoyed consistent highs to his career - with the latest landmark just another example of his success and longevity.
See what the coach had to say in the interview below.
400 Serie A games. How does it feel?
"It feels good. I've matured and improved. The number could have been even higher if you consider that I spent four years abroad at Zenit. I've been involved in lots of wonderful, intense matches, and I've learnt something from all of them. I take my work home with me: it's impossible for me to switch off and stop thinking about what I've done with my players. That's the best way to prepare for the next game and get your players ready. It's nice that most of these 400 games have been with the same few clubs."
Is there anyone you want to thank for this landmark achievement?
"Definitely. Being in charge of a team means being entrusted with something of huge economic value and I'm very proud that so many people have placed their faith in me. I've always put everything I have into every job I've had. The first one was Fabrizio Corsi at Empoli, then Franco Sensi called me to Roma after my time at Udinese, when we got into the Champions League. I'm also grateful to the people I've worked with and my opponents - they've taught me a lot."
Your Serie A debut as a coach came on 31 August 1997 in Empoli v Roma. Your present against your future. A sign of destiny.
"I remember that day and the match very clearly. We were playing [Zdenek] Zeman's Roma. He was a coach we all admired because of the attacking brand of football he always played. I believe playing attacking football is the best way to win games."
Are there any other games you remember particularly well?
"There are lots, and not just in Serie A. I've worked in Serie B and Serie C too. I remember the match against Monza that secured Empoli promotion to Serie B. I like to remember Udinese v AC Milan, the game that took the club into the Champions League for the first time. There's the derby from 2006 when we won 11 in a row, and the Coppa Italia final against Inter in 2007 that finished 6-2. I'd gladly dust off the Champions League games too. Who knows if I'll get to experience others."
This Saturday you're up against Gian Piero Gasperini and Atalanta's high-flying youngsters.
"Gasperini has always struck me as an excellent professional. He knows how to talk to his players and he has an in-depth knowledge of the game. He's stuck to his ideas, adapted them to the modern game and obtained great results, just as people like [Giampiero] Ventura and [Francesco] Guidolin have. He and Atalanta are having a fantastic season and he's moulded some great young prospects for the national team too."
This is your 400th game, but what does the future hold?
"The future is what we're playing for now. It's exciting to talk about the future because that's where we'll spend most of our lives. Roma's results in the present will determine the team's future. We have to create the future. We'll keep up the chase, match after match. Our final league position is the most important thing. We're playing for the future."