Saturday June 20 2020
Hamsik: 'Would've loved to play for Rino'

Former Napoli captain Marek Hamsik believes ‘I could’ve been wonderful’ in Gennaro Gattuso’s team of Coppa Italia winners.

Napoli initially struggled for form under Gattuso after he replaced Carlo Ancelotti in December, but they have gone on to lose just one of their last 11 games, among them a penalties victory over Juventus in the Coppa Italia Final.

“There’s a compactness that those who play football perceive instantly,” Hamsik, who now plays in China for Dalian Professional, told Il Mattino.

“The solidity seen on the field is clearly the result of their desire to fight together for an objective.

“Playing against them isn’t easy. I see them as a team who follow Gattuso in everything, who respond to his demands, who play a game that is an expression of their coach’s ideas.

“Above all, he’s a serious person who says things as they are. They’re the reasons why I think I could’ve been wonderful in that team.

“They had some problems when Gattuso arrived, they struggled to find the right step, but [Stanislav] Lobotka told me why: training was very hard and the first few weeks were very difficult for them, but no-one pulled back.

“It took time for the results to be seen, but they seem very fit to me and therefore it makes sense that they’re reaping the benefits now.”

The 32-year-old was the Partenopei’s all-time top scorer before Dries Mertens broke his record of 122 goals last weekend against Inter.

“Dries is an extraordinary player and man. I know how much he loves the city and this shirt.

“He’s already an icon for Napoli and Naples. He’s happy with breaking the goal record and I’m happy that it was him who overtook me.

“He’s a icon, just as Insigne and Callejon are. Napoli must be proud to have champions like them, who fight and have been pouring their hearts out for years.”

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