Inter must beat Empoli today for Champions League football, but Luciano Spalletti’s links with club, President and Coach go back a very long way.
It kicks off at 19.30 UK time (18.30 GMT), click here for a match preview.
This is no ordinary game for Spalletti, even without the issue of needing a victory to ensure a top four finish.
He hails from Certaldo, a town that is in the province of Florence, but is technically closer to Empoli.
Spalletti was with the Tuscan club both as a player in 1991-93 and a Coach, starting his management career in 1994 through to 1998.
Here he won the Coppa Italia Serie C, plus back-to-back promotions from Serie C to the top flight, ending a decade away from Serie A.
“I practically grew up with Luciano Spalletti,” confessed President Fabrizio Corsi, who took over the Empoli reins in 1991.
“We had many friends in common, went out dancing regularly, we were only teenagers and football came later. Then, together with the Empoli jersey, we achieved great results.
“We’ve got more at stake this time, because for Spalletti, Champions League qualification would just be another cherry on the cake of a formidable career.”
Current Empoli boss Aurelio Andreazzoli shared a room with Spalletti during the training course to get their Master UEFA Pro coaching certificate in 1999.
It was there that they met and became friends, Spalletti then hiring Andreazzoli as his assistant manager at Udinese in 2003, then at Roma from 2005 to 2009.
Andreazzoli returned to Roma in 2011 as assistant to Vincenzo Montella, Luis Enrique and Zdenek Zeman, eventually becoming caretaker manager after Zeman was fired in February 2013 and losing the Coppa Italia Final to Lazio.
He went back to being an assistant to Rudi Garcia, but in January 2016 Spalletti returned to Roma and they were reunited again.
In all, Andreazzoli had 299 competitive games as assistant manager to Spalletti, but wouldn’t move to Zenit St Petersburg.
The assistant only broke out on his own to take the main job at Empoli in December 2017, replacing Vincenzo Vivarini.
Thanks to a run of 14 wins and five draws, he took them to promotion from Serie B in April 2018 with four rounds to spare.
Despite all that, Empoli fired Andreazzoli on November 5 2018 following a series of poor results, three draws in 10 rounds, including the 5-1 at Napoli.
Beppe Iachini initially had a surge, but the new Coach effect wore off very quickly and Andreazzoli was recalled on March 13.
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