Former Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini famously fired numerous coaches, but director of sport Rino Foschi reveals the fiery patron “slapped me” during an argument.
The Sicilians eventually went bankrupt and have been reborn under new owners in Serie D, but Zamparini’s reign will live on in infamy, as between Palermo and previous club Venezia, he issued 54 dismissals in under 40 years.
“Zamparini stuck his oar in constantly and had to be involved in every decision,” Foschi told Il Giornale di Sicilia.
“We had some vicious rows. I remember one in particular with regards to Giuseppe Papadopulo. A friend in Milan told me that Zamparini had already signed the coach. I told him that I ought to know, seeing as I was the club’s director of sport.
“That Sunday, we lost to Siena, and during the post-match interview with Sky, the presenter told me Gigi Delneri had been fired. We closed the interview and I was livid.
“I went to Zamparini’s house the next day and Papadopulo was already there. I insulted him and Zamparini slapped me. The situation degenerated from there and I was effectively sacked.
“Papadopulo started well, beating Milan in the Coppa Italia on his debut, but Zamparini called me up after a couple of games: ‘Did you see what he’s done? You have to come back.’ I did, but wouldn’t even speak to Papadopulo, so naturally we ended up getting Francesco Guidolin back instead.
“We came close to signing Claudio Ranieri in 2007, when he was at Parma. Zdenek Zeman invited me to his house in Rome and would’ve been open to coming, but that was a different Palermo. We were like the Atalanta of the day.
“We’d also agreed a deal for Giorgio Chiellini with Livorno after Palermo’s promotion into Serie A. He was really happy with the move, but then Juventus snapped him up at the last minute.”
Foschi fully admits that Zamparini was too hands-on to allow for many independent decisions.
“I only managed to do deals with two coaches under Zamparini: Stefano Colantuono and Daniele Arrigoni. The latter was practically a fluke, as after Ezio Glerean was fired, I had talks with Alberto Cavasin, who wanted too much money. I returned home to Cesena and ran into Arrigoni having a coffee at my local bar. I asked him to take the job and he did.”
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