Maurizio Sarri believes he has not betrayed Napoli by joining Juventus, arguing ‘I gave them 110 percent and respected everyone.’
Napoli fans have turned on Sarri following his decision to take charge of Juve, having challenged them for the Scudetto in his three years at the San Paolo.
Defending his actions, the Coach concluded at his official unveiling in Turin: “I think that I experienced three years in which my first thought in the morning was how to beat Juventus, because we were the most credible alternative to them, so my moral duty was to find every way Napoli could defeat Juventus.
“I gave 110 per cent, I wasn’t able to do it. I’d do it all again, but that was a sporting rivalry and my professionalism will now bring me to give my all for this club.
“Even if I did it with ways that were perhaps wrong, my efforts were intellectually appreciable.
“If I have an opponent that I must give everything to defeat and fail, I can even ‘hate’ them, but I can also appreciate them.
“I have some messages sent personally by those players with a very different tone and view of the profession.
“These would change the view here... At times, players say things to fit in with the environment around them.
“I had three years at Napoli, I made a choice out of respect to them to go abroad. With the need to come to Italy, I received an offer from Juventus and that’s it.
“In my life, I have respected everyone and given 110 per cent to every jersey I worked with. I’ll do the same with these colours, I cannot do more than 110 per cent.
“My choices were very logical, there’s no need to write a novel around it. With regards to the anti-Neapolitan and racist chants, it’s time we just stop this in Italy.
“It’s time to just say enough and stop games. Napoli are perhaps most hit by a certain attitude from opposition supporters. Enough. Enough, we can’t continue to be 30-40 years behind the rest of Europe.
“As for playing against Napoli, when I leave the San Paolo to applause, I know it’s a show of love. If I leave being jeered, it’ll be a show of love. My feelings for the people of Napoli will not change.”
The former Chelsea boss was then asked about Napoli’s failed title bid last year, which saw him take an anti-Bianconeri stance at times, including a middle finger at the club’s fans...
“I had the absolute conviction of going to take the Scudetto. It was a professional aim, but at that time I was representing one of the most passionate fanbases who hadn’t won the Scudetto in 30 years.
“That year, I felt like we didn’t have the ability to go for several different targets, so we decided to go with ferocity towards one single objective.
“We wanted to take the Scudetto. We came close too and we really believed. It didn’t end well, but the journey was wonderful.
“I did everything I could do. It was my moral duty, as I was representing people who hadn’t won the title for 30 years.
“I felt the need to pull 110 per cent out of everyone, players and fans. I was born in Naples and supported Napoli, so I had everything required to fight with sword in hand for those colours.
“After that, stories come to an end. I can take some of the blame, not all of it. I made a gesture of extreme respect towards Napoli by going abroad, even with a delicate family situation, and the club that convinced me the most with their proposal just happened to be Juventus.
“It’s a normal process, if you think about it logically. If you want to create this soap opera around the declarations, middle finger, etc, then you can write whatever you want.
“I don’t know what the Juve style is or if I’ll be asked to adapt. I went to dinner last night and saw no real difference.
“I said some things wrong, others were used to mean something different that I did not mean.
“People keep using that phrase I said, how do you get a penalty, have a striped jersey, but they forget that was after Empoli-Milan....
“With the finger, I was wrong and I reacted excessively towards 10-20 stupid idiots, not towards Juventus fans. I said that even at the time.
“If out of 40,000 people there are 10 idiots who spit at you, then the reaction came. I do not consider those people to be Juventus fans.”