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21 September 2014

Hernan Crespo: "I'd like to be a little like Ancelotti, a little like Mourinho, and a little like Bielsa."

Hernan Crespo photo HernanCrespo.jpg
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.

Former Argentinean international, Hernan Jorge Crespo, was born in Florida, Argentina, and began his professional career at River Plate in 1993. In 1996, he transferred to Parma in the Italian Serie A and never left European club football after that point. Among his club honors were three Serie A Scudetti, two Argentinean Apertura titles, one Copa Libertadores, one UEFA Cup, one Premier League title, one Community Shield and one Coppa Italia, respectively. 

Mister Crespo now begins another journey as the youth coach of Parma's "Primavera." Andrea Schianchi of La Gazzetta dello Sport on 12 September 2014 conducted a long interview with Crespo. Let's take a look at a few selected excerpts from this enlightening discussion. I have also included my translation of Crespo's brilliant UEFA Pro coaching thesis on globalization and internationalization.

Discussion Items
  1. On what Parma means to him.
  2. On what Milan represents to him.
  3. On what happened to Milan at the 2005 UCL final.
  4. On why he didn't return to coach at Milan.
  5. On his thoughts of Filippo Inzaghi.
  6. On how he feels in his first coaching role.
  7. On his coaching models: Carlo Ancelotti, Jose' Mourinho and Marcelo Bielsa.
  8. On if he sees a Crespo in today's football.
  9. On his thoughts on youth coaching in Italy.
  10. On Antonio Cassano.
  11. On Mario Balotelli.
  12. On Fernando Torres and Stephan El-Shaarawy at Milan.
  13. On the rebirth of Italian football.

1. On what Parma means to him:

Hernan Crespo photo HernanCrespo4copy.jpg
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
"It's my second home. This city embraced me at the age of 21 and made me grow up. I decided to live here. The fans elected me the player of the century for Parma. I couldn't be in a better place."

2. On what Milan represents to him:

"A dream. When I was a boy in Buenos Aires, I supported Napoli due to Maradona just as all Argentineans did. But I admired the Milan of Gullit and Van Basten. I grew up with the myth of Van Basten. He was the utmost and the objective that anyone who plays center forward holds dear."

3. On what happened to Milan at the 2005 UCL final:

"Nothing. Football is also made up of pain. It's all here. I scored a brace and at the end of the first half, we were up, 3 to 0. We were charged up like crazy. Ancelotti told us that we were playing as a great team. We went back to the pitch and ... the lights went out for six minutes. Six damned minutes! But you know that game, my goals, I only saw it again only two months ago? Before then, I didn't have the strength. It still guts me."

AS: Two years later in Athens and you weren't there?

HC: "No but a beautiful thing happened. Right after the victory (over Liverpool), I received a few texts on my cellphone from my former Milan teammates. From Nesta, Pirlo, Gattuso, Brocchi and even from Ancelotti himself. They wrote that the Champions League Cup, the one they just won in Athens, was also a little bit of mine. And to think at that time I was playing for Internazionale... They are testimony and memories that aren't cancelled out."

4. On why he didn't return to coach at Milan:

AS: A few months ago it seemed that a return to Milan was a done deal as an assistant manager. Do you confirm that?

HC: "We had reached an agreement. Jaap Stam and I were to be on Seedorf's coaching staff. Then everyone knows what happened (to Seedorf). Clarence called and told me that the whole thing was off. Patience. I'm accustomed to unforeseen things: A year before, I could have gone to Real Madrid with Ancelotti and then I found myself doing TV commentary work..."

5. On his thoughts of Filippo Inzaghi:

AS: What kind of coach is Inzaghi. You know him very well.

HC: "We were classmates for the UEFA Pro licence in Coverciano together (in 2012/2013). He's one who never gives up just like as when he played. I used to watch him and he didn't impress you with great technical quality; however, whenever something was there to be kicked in, he always found himself in the right place. He's the same way as a manager: Meticulous, precise and concrete. He worked very well with Milan's Primavera."

6. On how he feels in his first coaching role:

AS: How are things going for you in your first coaching experience?

HC: "Very well. I'm 'hot' (he used a Spanish word), but I don't want to lose. I'll look to transmit my mentality. I always say: There will be someone better than I and I'm certain of that. But to show it, you have to do phenomenal things unless I'll win."

7. On his coaching models: Carlo Ancelotti, Jose' Mourinho and Marcelo Bielsa:

AS: Who were you coaching models?

HC: "I observe everyone. I study and then make a detailed analysis. I'd like to be a little like Ancelotti, a little like Mourinho, and a little like Bielsa."

AS: What did you take from Ancelotti?

HC: "Tranquility, humanity and the capacity to be always in harmony with players."

AS: And from Mourinho?

HC: "Training ground methodology. He's always on the cutting edge. And then Mourinho knows how to get inside players' heads. He's a psychologist."

AS: What would you like to learn from Bielsa?

HC: "He knows how to improve the qualities of players. If one is at 70 percent, you can be certain that with him, you'll get to 110 percent. He's magnificent in this aspect."

8. On if he sees a Crespo in today's football: 

AS: Do you see a Crespo in today's football?

HC: "You can't compare players from different playing eras. When I went on to the pitch, Cannavaro, Nesta, Maldini and Thuram marked me. Have I made myself clear? Besides, we fall into the error of those who want at all costs to compare Messi to Maradona. Let's not joke: Messi is extraordinary but you can't describe Maradona merely in words..."

9. On his thoughts on youth coaching in Italy:

AS: Now you coach young players who in Italy aren't valued that much. How do you experience this?

HC: "There are great players everywhere. What is missing, today, is the culture of work. Young players think more about privileges than training sessions and this does not bode well. If you do a stupid thing (outside of football), I fully support it if then when it is useful, you do something phenomenal (on the pitch). Otherwise what can I do? Now, instead, young guys do stupid things and they expect everything but still have not demonstrated anything."

10. On Antonio Cassano:

AS: Therefore, would you support someone like Cassano?

HC: "Cassano makes me crazy. He is football when he puts it in his head to play. Last year at Parma, thanks to him, the club made it to the Europa League. That seems to have said everything."

11. On Mario Balotelli:

Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
AS: Would you also support Balotelli?

HC: "That's a different discussion. The judgment on Balotelli depends on the expectations that you have about him. If you think that Mario can score 25 goals per season, well, you've gotten it all wrong. He has never had continuity. He can resolve a game with a play of a champion but you can't ask him to do it always."

12. On Fernando Torres and Stephan El-Shaarawy at Milan:

AS: Milan is counting on Torres. Will he do well?

HC: "Technically, he's a great center forward. He guarantees a presence in the penalty area, he's fast and attacks space. Considering the midfield of Milan, he's the man adapted to finish off the plays."

AS: And then there is El-Sharaawy. Will he be reborn?

HC: "I hope so. I played together with him when I was at Genoa. He's a serious lad. He doesn't lack any quality. He has already been acquainted with tough times and it's in his bones. Now he knows that compliments and pats on the back come and go. Up until now, he has been a very good player for six months, more or less. I wait to see him for an entire season. I would bet on him."

13. On the rebirth of Italian football:

Serie A 201415
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
AS: Would you bet on a rebirth of Italian calcio?

HC: "Once upon a time, let's say ten or fifteen years ago, all of the best players wanted to come here. Now, on the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi don't dream at all to put a foot in Italy. We have to change the mentality.

We must make our talents (Italian ones) mature at home. Our task, today, is one of exporting; not importing. And then we have the duty to take care of the Italian school of football. If we go down this road, we can do it in four years. I say this as an Italian. Not as an Argentinean..."

--- Andrea Schianchi of La Gazzetta dello Sport with Hernan Jorge Crespo of Parma.

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and The Soccer Translator since 2008. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.

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