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Interview

Gian Piero Gasperini on leadership

Passion, faith in youth and a willingness to take risks have lifted the 63-year-old Atalanta coach to the top of the game

INTERVIEW Vieri capretta | PHOTGRAPHY Emilio Andreoli

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“There are many ways to be a leader. You need to be credible and convincing. You can’t push but you need to convince the players what to do on the pitch and in training. It needs to be useful for them. You have to make sure that a player can express himself to his highest level.

“There are many kinds of leaders. On the pitch there is one captain – there can be many leaders but the captaincy only goes to one. It’s a strength when there are several players who, with their behaviour, education and respect, set an example. That’s true leadership. It’s also when players on the pitch recognise what they have to do or when they have to change positions, or recognise the difficulties of another role or team-mate. That’s another type of leader. There are many, but these are the ones we like to have.

“In football we don’t have any ritual like the Haka, but you feel it when there is the right energy to play a game. Sometimes there’s silence, that silence of concentration before a performance. Some coaches scream more, some are more reserved; some are more nervous, some less. The most important thing is that the message arrives and that everybody recognises what we want to do. We need to think the same way. Before going on the pitch you have to think as a team. What you do and what you propose at training influences belief. A team that knows what to do has a stronger sense of leadership.

“The world is full of leaders, in every sector. In football, maybe it’s easy to choose a few famous ones like Pep Guardiola, and others who have won things. But you can find many good ones in minor leagues – coaches who have other types of problems and face them with more mindfulness and fewer means.

“I’m attracted to simple quotes. We sometimes print them for the changing room – just to show them, not to trigger feelings or anything like that. One of the latest is: ‘We can’t go slow. We can’t be cautious. If we don’t take risks we will never do big things. We face great teams and if we don’t take risks, we will never reach our goal.’ And I often say: ‘There are two ways to face a curve. You go faster or you slow down.’ We have to go faster.”

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

Gian Piero Gasperini on leadership
Interview

Gian Piero Gasperini on leadership

Passion, faith in youth and a willingness to take risks have lifted the 63-year-old Atalanta coach to the top of the game

INTERVIEW Vieri capretta | PHOTGRAPHY Emilio Andreoli

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

“There are many ways to be a leader. You need to be credible and convincing. You can’t push but you need to convince the players what to do on the pitch and in training. It needs to be useful for them. You have to make sure that a player can express himself to his highest level.

“There are many kinds of leaders. On the pitch there is one captain – there can be many leaders but the captaincy only goes to one. It’s a strength when there are several players who, with their behaviour, education and respect, set an example. That’s true leadership. It’s also when players on the pitch recognise what they have to do or when they have to change positions, or recognise the difficulties of another role or team-mate. That’s another type of leader. There are many, but these are the ones we like to have.

“In football we don’t have any ritual like the Haka, but you feel it when there is the right energy to play a game. Sometimes there’s silence, that silence of concentration before a performance. Some coaches scream more, some are more reserved; some are more nervous, some less. The most important thing is that the message arrives and that everybody recognises what we want to do. We need to think the same way. Before going on the pitch you have to think as a team. What you do and what you propose at training influences belief. A team that knows what to do has a stronger sense of leadership.

“The world is full of leaders, in every sector. In football, maybe it’s easy to choose a few famous ones like Pep Guardiola, and others who have won things. But you can find many good ones in minor leagues – coaches who have other types of problems and face them with more mindfulness and fewer means.

“I’m attracted to simple quotes. We sometimes print them for the changing room – just to show them, not to trigger feelings or anything like that. One of the latest is: ‘We can’t go slow. We can’t be cautious. If we don’t take risks we will never do big things. We face great teams and if we don’t take risks, we will never reach our goal.’ And I often say: ‘There are two ways to face a curve. You go faster or you slow down.’ We have to go faster.”

“We should never lose our enthusiasm or desire to improve and keep on growing. It’s fundamental. A youngster has fewer expectations, he has enthusiasm. The problem is that sometimes people try to erase some of those emotions as they can interfere with performance. On the other hand, the team gets stronger with his enthusiasm, with his desire to do well, so it’s important to direct and put that energy to use.

“We tend to view things in isolation, but I take a much more overarching view in football. Making your performances better happens after lots of little improvements along the way, including the psychological and personal side of things, as well as the character of the player, which is often obscured as people look more at technical or tactical qualities. But the personality, confidence and belief with which a player enters the pitch and makes decisions is an important component.

“The mentality and personality that a player develops are not only what will bring you into the Champions League but also ensure that you achieve great things in this competition. For me it has been a fantastic journey as well. Competing with the best in Europe and the world, you get the opportunity to validate your work, see what goes well – and sometimes you need to correct what goes wrong. It’s like a school or university.

“Football evolves continuously. Maybe something from three, four years ago is already outdated. You have to be ready for this evolution; you need to recognise it and adapt. That goes for me as well: it’s always important to see how far I can go. [At Atalanta] it started with difficulties and then it immediately exploded into incredible things. I was brought in to work mostly with young players. When I got here they were the substitutes; when I decided to put them on the pitch there was a remarkable evolution. Since that moment five years have passed and just a few of those players remain. There were revolutions and changes continuously. Most important was to keep the level high, to raise it even, although the team is changing all the time. The story of Atalanta has been that when the players reach a certain ability, you have to sell them. Then others arrive and you need to start all over again. Though maybe that also provides a push or stimulus.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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