Gian Piero Gasperini admits “Inter burned me in the worst of ways” and is determined to show Atalanta are not in the Champions League “by chance”.
Gasperini coached Inter during the 2011-12 campaign but was sacked just five games in, forcing the 61-year-old to take a sabbatical before eventually restoring his reputation at Atalanta.
“The defeat in Zagreb [4-0] was unexpected because of the numbers and how we played,” he told UEFA.com.
“We needed to earn credibility in the Champions League, the best competition in the world, and make people realise that we hadn’t got there by chance.
“We had the right match against Shakhtar. Having lost it right at the end adds to our regret, but it also gives us confidence for the future: this team can grow and play at this level.
“My experience at Inter burned me in the worst of ways. I had to start over with a club in middle-to-low table.
“Right away I found a very organised club, an ambitious President and a city that has crazy love for this team.
“Together with our idea of football, these have all helped take Atalanta to the next level.
“We’re in our fourth year together, but every season has been different. This season is perhaps the one where the team have changed the least.
“[Alejandro] Gomez has also developed at an incredible rate. He was more of a striker in his first season with us, scoring 16 goals.
“Then he experienced a transformation, which led him to playing deeper, but he became a captain, a leader for this team.
“Perhaps he got to this level a bit late, but he’s a top player.”
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