Zdenek Zeman has spoken of his pride in seeing Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti all make Italy’s World Cup squad.
The trio all came to prominence whilst working under the tactician in Pescara’s successful 2011-12 Serie B promotion campaign and now will all head out to the World Cup for their country, to the delight of their former boss.
“Lo, Marcolino and Ciruzzo, all in Brazil. What a great satisfaction. I’m very happy for my boys. I’ll be cheering for them,” Zeman has considered to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I want to say one thing. They are not only three good at playing football, they are also three good guys. Serious, generous, helpful. They gave me so much and hope I have also given them something.
“They are my pride of today, because there are also many who flourished in the past. I was honoured to be at Foggia with Signori and Baiano. And not to mention Totti, Di Biagio, Tommasi, Negro, Favalli, Nesta, Fuser…
“These latest three are the little brothers of a beautiful brood.
“It is nice that they still remember their old Coach. We talk every so often. A phone call or a text message after some good results. Last I heard from was Insigne.
“I am glad that he [Insigne] convinced Prandelli to take him, in spite of some great competition, whilst the same is also true for Ciro and Marco.”
Insigne has endured an indifferent season of form for Napoli, but has Zeman’s backing.
“The first time I saw Insigne? In Viareggio. He was playing for Napoli’s Primavera, but he was not the attacker.
“His 37 League goals in two seasons under me? You also forget his goals in the Coppa Italia and his tide of assists.
“Now he scores and makes goals, but it depends on where he plays. I am glad he has been included among the attackers.
“Insigne in one-on-one and in preparation to shoot is among the best I have had.”
Immobile finished as Serie B Capocannoniere under Zeman and, after a season in which he has since finished as Serie A Capocannoniere, he is preparing for a new chapter in the Bundesliga after the World Cup.
“When I saw him in Pescara I told him that he would be our striker. He scored 28 goals but could have gotten one a game.
“In Genoa he did not play as prima punta, and when he returned to being a striker he showed what he is worth.
“Immobile is generous, he leaves everything on the field and fights without fear. I’m sorry that Italian football has lost him, it’s a bad sign when the best youngster go away, but I think it can be a good experience for him.
“He will grow, he has broad shoulders and the desire to get there.”
Debate surrounds where Verratti may be best used by Cesare Prandelli this summer, as he is seen as Andrea Pirlo’s heir.
“Verratti during preseason with Pescara had some problems, but he has learned to grit his teeth. He arrived last but has never stopped.
“At the beginning he played little because physically he was not okay, but then he came into form and the rest came by itself because Verratti knows how to play.
“He is a regista, but in the last friendly [against Republic of Ireland] he played in several positions and in my opinion was Italy’s best player.”