Maurizio Sarri dedicated his Europa League trophy to Napoli fans, would not rule out a Juventus move, even though “I am starting to feel like this Chelsea team is mine.”
He lifted his first major trophy in Baku, having beaten Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa League Final.
“We had a good season, because we earned out place in the Champions League via the Premier League, which was not an easy task considering the high overall level,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“We reached the League Cup Final after knocking out Liverpool and Tottenham, only lost on penalties to Manchester City. In the Europa League we won 12 and drew three, we scored more than anyone else.
“I think after tonight our season goes from good to extraordinary. It was not easy to arrive and settle quickly in such a difficult league. I had some problems, but from February onwards I saw something change in the rapport with the team. Maybe I changed too, but I am starting to feel like this team is mine.”
Eden Hazard bagged a brace this evening, but also confirmed “it’s goodbye” ahead of his transfer to Real Madrid.
“I’m sad, because Hazard is an extraordinary player and can achieve even more. He’s an odd lad, but once you get into his comfort zone, he’s wonderful.”
Sarri’s own future is also up in the air with reports of a deal with Juventus to replace Max Allegri.
“This is the time to celebrate. From tomorrow, as with all clubs, we’ll sit down and see what the club wants me to improve and what I want the club to improve. There are still two years on the contract, so as with every club, we have to sit down and evaluate everything.
“Over the last 20 days people have said I was certainly going to Roma, Milan and Juventus, so as long as I read them in the papers, it makes no difference.”
Napoli fans placed banners outside Sarri’s home in Tuscany urging him not to join their bitter rivals Juventus.
“I am pleased that Napoli congratulated me, I had no doubts it would happen. The Neapolitans know how much love I have for them and that last year I went abroad to avoid going straight to another Italian club.
“They will always have my love and respect. The profession means at times we might have to take different paths, but that will never change my history or my respect for them.
“I dedicate this firstly to the Napoli fans, because this is the satisfaction I was unable to give them last year. I also dedicate it to those lads in the Chelsea squad who couldn’t play tonight because of injuries. I think it’s only right for all of us to have a special thought for them.”
Not only did Sarri defeat Europa League specialist Unai Emery, he also became the first tactician to win it unbeaten with 12 wins and three draws.
No major European competition has been won without a loss since Manchester United took the 2007-08 Champions League.
The legendary chain-smoker even stepped up a gear at the final whistle, preparing a cigar.
It was more than earned, considering he was working in a bank the last time an Italian Coach won the UEFA Cup, Alberto Malesani’s Parma in 1999.
It was the first major trophy of Sarri’s career, although he did win the Coppa Italia Serie D (semi-professional) in charge of Sansovino in 2003.