Gian Piero Gasperini claims hard work transformed Atalanta captain Papu Gomez into a champion and explains how Josip Ilicic went from ‘The Grandma’ to ‘The Professor’ under his regime.
The Argentine attacker Gomez has been influential in Bergamo since his return to Italy from Metalist Kharkiv, but the coach claimed Papu, who has previously claimed matchday feels like a day off under Gasp, always had what it takes to become one of the best.
“With Papu we are talking about an extraordinary player who had not achieved his potential because he never trained well,” Gasperini told The Guardian. “When he started training better he raised his level to become one of the best in Europe.
“He wasted time because training makes you into a champion: he always had everything to become one.”
Ilicic is another star player who has excelled under Gasperini’s leadership and the coach admitted the former Fiorentina forward was ‘missing that mental step’.
“Ilicic is another one. We used to call him ‘Josip the Grandma’ because he was just going around being nice to everyone.
“We had to convince him to increase his efforts in training. He was missing that mental step but once he changed his mindset, we stopped calling him grandma, now we call him ‘The Professor’.
“He realised that every training session is fun and from that decision he was reborn. Five goals in the Champions League this season is a superb effort.”
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