Mancini: ‘I would have stayed 10 years with Italy’

Rome: Roberto Mancini insists he ‘would’ve gladly stayed another 10 years’ as coach of the Italy squad, still feels Gianluca Vialli’s presence and dreams of a return to Sampdoria.

The coach spoke to television show Che Tempo Che Fa about his choices, including the decision to leave the Azzurri in August for a new role with Saudi Arabia.

He was asked if he regretted or reproached himself for anything that he had done in that period.

“No. It is sad when these things happen, sometimes a coach is sacked, sometimes he resigns,” said Mancini.

“I was very happy as the CT of Italy, I would’ve gladly stayed another 10 years. But I am also happy in Saudi Arabia, even if it is really hard work. I have only managed to learn a few words of Arabic.”

This month marks a year since the death of Mancini’s best friend Vialli from pancreatic cancer, who had been his teammate and then a member of his coaching staff when Italy won the EURO 2020 tournament.

“We had wonderful years together, we were young and had a lot of fun. I always feel that he is by my side. Fraternal friendship goes beyond everything,” said Mancini.

“Vialli was also very important for the European Championship victory. Luca had such amazing charisma. One day when we were players, he came galloping onto the pitch as if he was on horse, it was so funny. We won that match and so he continued doing it for a few games afterwards, to bring good luck.”

The months leading up to his departure from the Italy squad were very tough on a personal level, as along with Vialli, he also lost good friend Sinisa Mihajlovic to leukaemia.

Mancini became firm friends with Vialli when they were called the Goal Twins at Sampdoria, winning a surprise Scudetto and going on to reach the European Cup Final.

“Since the day I left, it has always been my dream to return to Sampdoria. I was there for 15 years, that is a long time. I would love it. The secret of that team that won the Scudetto was that we were all friends, and we remained friends, even if we don’t get to see each other often.”