Luciano Spalletti said his first Roma side was ‘touched by the light of the Roman sunshine,’ while explaining his Francesco Totti tactical transformation.
The coach spoke to Sky Sport Italia about his career and you can read his comments on Inter here.
He had two spells on the Giallorossi bench, in 2005-09 and again from January 2016 to May 2017.
“My first Roma team was touched by the light of the Roman sunshine, made of players who could pass the ball without ever creating difficulty for their teammates,” said the 61-year-old.
“It takes a lot of quality to do that and they had it, as those passing moves made the difference and formed a team that played beautiful football.”
As part of those tactics, Spalletti transformed Totti into a False 9 leading a non-stop wave of attacking players.
“What I do is talk to the players, find out what their strengths are and make them the protagonists. I tried to find the hidden capabilities of these players.
“I remember Simone Perrotta who started out at Chievo as a defensive midfielder, but I saw he always timed his runs right in the decisive moments. He’s similar to Matias Vecino now, who needs space to run into and then becomes very difficult to stop, whereas Perrotta perhaps was a little more versatile in his movements. Both could finish well, had good shots from distance, like Radja Nainggolan.
“At the time, I had the Zero in front, who was Totti, who’d create spaces and make sure he always got away from the opposition defenders. He was a master in occupying the space.”
The rapport with Totti fell apart in the final years together at the Stadio Olimpico, when the captain felt he was pushed into retirement.
“I think our rapport remained the same, but the two phases required a different attitude,” continued Spalletti.
“The results of the team are the most important thing for a coach and I have to work on that. I have always been the same, it’s just that different things happened requiring me to behave differently, but always for the good of the team.
“I hope that Totti has a great career as an agent and I am sure we’ll cross paths in future during our work.”
There was also an amusing anecdote on his former midfielder, David Pizarro.
“Pizarro tended to put on weight, so we almost created a game when it came to weighing-in day, as he’d take off a necklace, shave his beard or cut his nails, anything to get the weight down! When he stepped on the scales and was the right weight, his teammates started singing and gave him a standing ovation.
“Then he’d get a tray of pastries and offer them to everyone, follow me around and eat them, because he was the right weight, so he could!
“Edin Dzeko is a tough striker to work with and find the right system for, because he can score 30 goals and create another 30 for his teammates. He is a total footballer: can score, attack the space, provide passes, do anything.
“I remember one day he scored a brace, so the next day I tried to fire him up a bit and said he looked like a two-litre bottle of water. When Daniele De Rossi translated, he gave me a glare, which is worrying with those muscles! But he did tend to rest on his laurels.”
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