Roberto De Zerbi (44) has in a year lifted Brighton & Hove Albion from a good domestic level to one of hte most best driven clubs in Europe.
On his road in management and as a player he has experienced a lot, even running and hiding from bombs in a war zone.
Today De Zerbi and his Brighton team is “the talk of the town” inside the game. He had not the top belief when he first moved to England, as a surprising telephone call from Pep Guardiola was one much appreciated.
In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, De Zerbi explains the details behind the telephone call, and what it ment for him. He said; “When I first arrived here, I was a nobody, and the start was difficult, two defeats and a draw in the first three games, but it changed and the two wins vs. Chelsea and Arsenal gave him a lot of respect, and of course a bit of help given to Pep Guardiola on his way to win the Premier League title.
Pep has also praised De Zerbi for his approach and how Brighton & Hove Albion play, as he is far from surprised on how the success has appeared. Pep is tellng no lies, beliving The Seagulls are one of the thoughest opponents out there at the moment.
De Zerbi and Pep are total opposite, as the Brescia born Brighton manager had a modest playing career, being a sort of nomad moving around to different clubs, in a career lasting 15 years. He played just a handful of games in the Italian top flight, but the experience of being so much on the move, can of course be a benefit having different experiences.
As a manager De Zerbi has walked the tiers, getting his breakthrough at Sassuolo. His approach is one unique, as explained by Kevin Prince-Boateng, saying the Italian is the best in the World. Boateng played under De Zerbi at Sassuolo, and his philosophy are based on the same ideas as Pep, both having a past at Brescia.
De Zerbi has kept his connections in the game close, and when unknown to the public, been able to be on the inside to watch top clubs such as Bayern Munich and Man City as he gained knowledge and inspiration on his path to the top of the game.
A number of Italian clubs were chasing him last season, but De Zerbi had set his eyes on England, and he is seen as one of a number of young managers climbing up and into a life as the game is in change and new methods and ideas implemented.
Before moving to Brighton, he was the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk, based in Kyiv. With the Russian invation of Ukraine, it all became dramatic and difficult as De Zerbi was offered a chance to leave, but he refused, and instead, according to Daily Mail, sheltered in an Ukrainian bunker for five days.
Norwegian international Haitam Alezami is also full of praise for his former boss, playing for De Zerbi at Palermo, talking about him as a man that could see players and talk to them, even if they were not playing and not being in a more traditional way, but seeing everyone with an open speach.
Every eye will be on the Brighton boss today as he comes head to head with Pep Guardiola and Man City at The Etihad this Saturday.