MILAN – Walter Mazzarri is the guest on tonight’s edition of Mondo Inter on Inter Channel to talk about his book, "Il Meglio deve ancora venire" (The Best is Yet to Come).
Where did the idea for this book come from? Does it begin with your career as a player or just your time as a coach?
"I talk about my career as a coach because I wasn’t happy with my time as a player and it didn’t seem right to talk about it. This idea came from a proposal by Rizzoli, which caught me a bit off-guard. I didn’t think that such a big publishing house could be interested in my career in football. I had never considered it, then I thought about it for a moment. I thought about my private life, with my son, and how I missed the best years of him growing up and now that he’s 18, I accepted. I tend to never talk about my private life, but I made an exception because I thought it would be nice for my son to know what I did when I wasn’t around, so that he could hear – in my own words – what I did over the years when sadly I didn’t spend as much time with him."
Will your son Gabriele be pleased with the dedication?
"I don’t know about that because he’s at an age, 18 going on 19, where he’s not very demonstrative, it’s a tricky age. I think he will appreciate in a few years why I decided to do this, and why perhaps on a Monday he wanted to play with me and I got distracted because the president called. He might have thought I wasn’t around as a father. It’s heartfelt, and if he wants to treat it in the right way, great, if not it’s still OK."
Were you pleased that president Moratti wrote the preface?
"I was very pleased that the president accepted Rizzoli’s offer. As you know, we had a special bond right from our first meeting. The fact that the president wanted to write this preface makes me proud and makes me realise that the respect I have for him is reciprocated."
Let’s pretend to leaf through this book: let’s talk about the sections involving Inter, there’s one in which you recount your first meeting with Moratti…
"It was something special. You have to understand that, for a coach who started out where I began, I saw president Moratti as something unattainable. So when the time comes that, with your career and all your accomplishments, you get the call from such a charismatic and important president, it’s something that really hits you. I was under the spell of such a great person, this great president. And in almost no time he shook my hand and told me, ‘If you want the job then you’re the Inter coach starting right now.’ I can tell you truthfully that I found it very moving. It sent a shiver down my spine."
There’s a chapter in which you discuss your meeting with José Mourinho during the U.S. tournament in Indianapolis.
"To tell you the truth I was very impressed. As soon as he heard I had signed for Inter he sent me his congratulations through Marco Branca. And when we met face to face it was even more special. We went into the dressing room, an encounter between two men who then cleared things up. Or at least I tried to clear things up, but he wouldn’t let me since it was already a given to him. I believe I can say that we have something in common: when we take part in a cause we do everything we can to see that it leads to victory. It didn’t take much at all for us to immediately understand each other. Then someone had to come and get us to let us know the game was starting. It was strange for me, since for me the pitch is always the only thing that matters; that is what’s always been the most important thing for me."
After Inter v Juventus you were leaving the stadium. There were fans outside and a woman knocked on your car window, correct?
"After 10 years in the Serie A I’m used to always being in the papers and on TV. Sometimes when things are going well you get a lot of praise, but there are times when certain private things are more important. Like when I was leaving the stadium and saw a woman gesturing to me. I told my son to roll down the window and then heard this woman saying to me, ‘Thank you, sir, for what you’re doing for my son.’ I responded, ‘Yes, ma’am. But who are you?’ And she replied, ‘I’m the mother of Ricky Alvarez.’ I got emotional and then I told her that it was all down to her son’s talents. These are special moments, and as satisfying as winning a big match."
So will "The Best is Yet to Come" lead to a new book for when the best actually arrives?
"No, we can take it as something of a good omen. We can’t deny we’re going through a difficult moment. Let’s hope this book’s release brings good luck to everyone and gives us the strength to have the kind of end to the season everyone was hoping for us. I won’t say anything else; a bit out of superstition and also out of seriousness."
Since you mentioned the current period, let’s talk about Inter v Catania. After the match you stressed how the psychological aspect was something that contributed to the performance. Aside from the fact that your explanation got reported as "it seemed as if we were playing behind closed doors", have you focused on that too during the week?
"I say to all the fans that when you have a camera in front of you, you really understand what it means to be a coach. Sometimes a statement made in a certain way gets transcribed a bit differently. In the meantime I’d like to clarify that ‘behind closed doors’ was something objective since there were some reasons for it. People were distracted by what had happened in the game and we know what I’m referring to. It certainly wasn’t an excuse, or to say it was a slightly different situation because someone else was to blame, quite the opposite. I hope we can overcome this situation with the help of our fans, and I’m making an appeal to them because at the beginning of the season I said Nerazzurri fans knew what they were doing. Not many fans have the kind of attachment to their team that they have, and that’s what allowed us to start the season the way we did. We know that for the way this season started it could have been something unexpected. It’s thanks to the San Siro that we had that boost that allowed us to overcome our opponents. I repeat this so we can have that atmosphere again; both for the team, to give a lift to the fans, and for the fans, for their support. I can guarantee my maximum commitment. The fans can rest assured I’m committed, and we need them to stand by us since we deserve it from this point of view. I believe a fan has to understand the essence of his team’s coach, because I live for the job and the results in the way a fan does."
Next up is Juventus v Inter. This is an opponent that has 10 wins in 10 home matches. They’ve scored ??30 goals, and beaten both Roma and Napoli. Shall I continue?
"It sounds like a war report… We have to show up there with a fighting spirit and take it to them. We have to know that if we do things right then anything can happen. We’re going there with a mentality to compete, and after 95 minutes then we’ll see what the result is."