“Just 11 months after being appointed, Sarri was holding the Europa League winners medal, whilst at the same time having taken Chelsea back to a Champions League spot”
From zero to hero.
We’ve heard this phrase many times before in stories.
Maurizio Sarri became its latest example after his Europa League victory with Chelsea.
He started from the bottom, with the strength of his ideas, and with the right amount of hard work, he made it to the top.
Back in January the Italian coach was on the verge of being sacked. Six months later, he took Chelsea to third place in the Premier League behind two record-breaking sides, and lifted the Europa League trophy by beating London rivals Arsenal.
It was not the first time that Sarri won silverware – but his only other conquest had been the Coppa Italia Serie D back in 2003 with Sansovino.
These 16 years have been a long journey for Sarri. With ups and many downs, all the way to the aristocracy of 21st century European football.
From Sansovino to Pescara, from Hellas Verona to Perugia. Sarri’s career started in the minor leagues, and developed upwards. A former banker, his belief in his footballing ideology is what elevated him from the masses of coaches.
Ideas, work, belief in applying his methodology on the pitch, in training sessions. “I don’t believe in transfer windows as being difference makers,” he once said. “I want to improve players through training.”
His breakthrough at the top level happened with Empoli in Serie A. The Tuscan side won promotion under Sarri, then confirmed their top flight status, coming 15th with an entertaining an innovative brand of football.
Pep Guardiola being the man to learn from, Sarri had Empoli playing with a high defence line, with high pressing, combined to quick passing game when in possession. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis liked the style, and brought Sarri to Naples.
In three seasons at Napoli, Sarri gave the world of football one of the most entertaining sides ever, getting Gonzalo Higuain to break the goal-scoring record in a single Serie A season (36 goals), and taking Napoli inches away from winning the Scudetto.
At Chelsea he struggled at first, blown away initially by the lack of trust from the board and the media. Chelsea played differently to Napoli – less possession based, more pragmatic, but also at times more direct and efficient. It worked.
Just 11 months after being appointed, Sarri was holding the Europa League winners medal, whilst at the same time having taken Chelsea back to a Champions League spot.
He was accused in Italy of being entertaining but lacking results. He got his revenge in the best possible way.
Over the past 5 seasons Sarri has given us some fantastic moments of football, some entertaining and winning sides, some of the things that make fans fall in love with this sport.
Football thanks Sarri, and Sarri thanks football. From zero to hero. With so much more to come still.