Sarri not intimidated by Rome rival Mourinho’s past successes


Milan (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s trophy cabinet may be bulging but new Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri said Friday that counts for nothing as the former Chelsea managers prepare to share the Stadio Olimpico next season.

Mourinho will coach Roma while Sarri takes charge of city rivals Lazio, both housed in the same stadium in the Italian capital.

“I can’t see this great dualism with Mourinho,” Sarri told a press conference in the Italian capital.

“I met him and he is a good character. He has won much more than me, has a higher pedigree than mine, even if it doesn’t count for anything. In the derby we will do everything, and more, to get through the match.” 

Mourinho, 58, famously dubbed himself ‘the Special One’ to announce his arrival at Chelsea, who he lead to a first English league title in 50 years in 2005, going on to win two more league titles, and eight trophies in total in Stamford Bridge. 

The Portuguese, who has won 25 trophies as a coach in his career including the Champions League with Inter Milan and Porto, signed for Roma two weeks after being sacked by Tottenham.

Sarri won his first coaching trophy with Chelsea in the Europa League in 2019 before moving to Juventus where he won Serie A in 2000 before being dismissed.

But the 62-year-old believes he has found the right fit in Lazio, a team who have won Serie A twice, most recently in 2000.

“I chose Lazio for two reasons — a personal one and a sporting one,” said the Italian coach famed for his ‘Sarriball’ fast-paced, possession-based style brand of attacking football at Napoli from 2015-18.

“I saw in this club the characteristics to express myself at best. In this team I see the conditions to play the football I like.

“Lazio comes at a time when I needed this type of club, with these characteristics, which could lead me to do this job in the way that suits me best.”

He added: “The club wanted to me to sign a four-year contract.

“I wanted it shorter because I want to be sure in two years that I have the same energy. We will play in a different way, we will try to remain competitive.”

Sarri takes over from Simone Inzaghi who moved to Serie A champions Inter Milan after five years in Rome. 

Inzaghi beat Sarri’s Juventus to lift the Italian Super Cup in 2019 and also challenged for the Serie A title in the 2019-2020 season before finishing fourth after the coronavirus disruption.

Lazio finished sixth last season.

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