Saturday September 15 2018
Pecchia: 'Ronaldo always loved Italy'

Fabio Pecchia has seen it all at Real Madrid, Napoli and Hellas Verona, revealing Cristiano Ronaldo “has loved Serie A and Italy for years.”

The former assistant manager to Rafa Benitez is now a Coach of his own accord and spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport about his career.

He spent a lot of time working with Ronaldo in Madrid and wasn’t surprised by the transfer to Juventus.

“He always gives his all and it becomes natural for others to follow his example. He’s a courteous person, but his personality really holds weight in the locker room.

“Ronaldo has loved Serie A and Italy for years. I think he picked it up from Manchester United fitness coach Valter Di Salvo,” said Pecchia.

“The experience at Real Madrid was incredible, because every training session was treated like a Final. Training that group of champions means you can’t get anything wrong. They are very demanding with themselves and therefore also with others.

“Sergio Ramos is a Spanish icon, a tough guy. Cristiano Ronaldo never goes over the top, but when he speaks, people listen… Luka Modric in his current form is precious, as he has the faith of his teammates on the field and off it he brings harmony between the big names.

“When it’s a Champions League match, you can see their faces are transformed and the adrenaline is pumping. CR7 brings a special energy that he can also transmit to Juve. He doesn’t mind being the focus of attention, positive and negative.”

Benitez and Pecchia were dismissed to make way for Zinedine Zidane in January 2016, and the replacement went on to win three Champions League trophies in a row.

“There was a strange atmosphere in Madrid. When we were dismissed, we were second in La Liga and only two points off Barcelona. Above all, we were blamed for playing Casemiro rather than James Rodriguez or Isco. Incidentally, that’s what Zidane continued to do later, but as we all know, history is written by the winners.”

Benitez also claims he laid the groundwork for Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli and Pecchia backs this view.

“Benitez brought great players and transmitted the focus on passing and attack. You can’t go wrong with Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol and Jose Callejon.

“I also fell for Lorenzo Insigne, who is a phenomenal talent. It’s not just his technique, but his strength and spirit of sacrifice. Every training session is a challenge for him and right now he is the best Italian player.”

Pecchia as a Coach was on the bench for Hellas Verona, but after securing their promotion, couldn’t stay longer than one season in Serie A.

“It was a tough experience. We topped the Serie B table and earned promotion amid jeers from the crowd, proof that everything around the club was not relaxed.

“Then the President asked to have a zero-cost transfer strategy to balance the books and we had to economise. The results might’ve been bitter, but unlike Bari and Cesena, Hellas are still without debt.”

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