Why Maurizio Sarri is a story for football to celebrate
Last week, it was confirmed that Maurizio Sarri's stint in England will end after just one season as his exit from Chelsea was confirmed. In doing so, the Italian created history in a way as he became the first permanent manager in the Roman Abramovich era; to not be sacked by the club. The former Napoli coach will return to his homeland to manage seven-time defending Serie A champions Juventus.
The 60-year-old has secured the job of being the biggest club in his country. When one looks back at Sarri's past, this is nothing short of a fairytale and a story that will make the script of a blockbuster movie. The Italian could not establish himself as a footballer and lived the white-collar life by working as a banker.
Despite his professional demands, his love for football is something that stayed with him as he continued to coach teams as a part-time job. Over the years, he decided to make it is a full-time career and began his journey from the eight-division of Italian football around 30 years ago. Now, Sarri will be working with a European giant but it has hardly come easy for him. The Italian has had to work his way from the bottom and has done an admirable job in doing so.
He first gained limelight in the year 2014 when he led Empoli to promotion after six years away from the top division. Sarri earned a lot more recognition in the following year as Empoli managed to avoid relegation from the Serie A. His commendable work not only earned him a lot of praise in Italy but also gained him the job of his boyhood club Napoli.
The work he did in Naples is well documented. Under his reign, the club achieved their three highest points total in Serie A history in each of Sarri's three years. More than that, the football played by Napoli mesmerized the footballing community. Fans of the game were left in awe of the scintillating football that Sarri taught his players. This led to widespread praise for the Italian coach in the footballing community, including from the likes of Pep Guardiola and Arrigo Sacchi.
Ultimately, Sarri's big moment came last summer when he joined Chelsea and replaced Antonio Conte. It is no secret how tough a manager's job is in West London and it was no different for Sarri. Having not connected with the fans and overseeing Chelsea's record Premier League defeat with a 6-0 loss to Manchester City, the Italian's future was a topic of heated discussion.
Despite the criticism levied at him, the former Napoli coach was able to rise out of the storm and guide Chelsea to a third-place finish in the Premier League and ensure the club returns to the Champions League next season. On top of which, Sarri led Chelsea to victory in the UEFA Europa League.
The Europea League triumph was the first major silverware that Sarri won in his career. The viral photo of the Italian looking at his winner's medal is certainly one of the most heart-warming moments the sport has seen in recent times. That image was a symbolism of years of hard work paying fruit. That Sarri is now a winner of a major European trophy will give hope to every player and coach playing football in the lower divisions that they can make it to the top. Beyond football, it shows every person to follow their passions and dreams big.
Doing so believing in his philosophy of the game and not letting anyone change him deserves appreciation even if one might not agree with his methods. While some might call him stubborn, those methods have certainly taken him a long way. Why should he change what has worked to an unimaginable extent for him?
A lot has been made about the lack of trophies in Sarri's cabinet. While silverware is what the game is about, there is a lot more to it. Not everyone involved in the game has the luck and resources to compete for major honors from the go. Some have to do it the hard way like Sarri and his journey is certainly one that exhibits the beauty of the game which gives everyone a chance to make it big. It's a story that the football community should celebrate and take a lot of pride in.
For the football romantic, him taking the Juventus job might be a bit disappointing. A splendid part of his journey was the beautiful relationship he made with Napoli fans. That is something that could change now.
But can one really blame Sarri? How many people will say no to a job like Juventus? A team that is certain to win the league every season and in Cristiano Ronaldo has one of the greatest to have played the sport in their ranks. For a coach who spent decades in the lower leagues and came into the first division only five years ago, this is nothing short of a once in a lifetime opportunity.