Cannavaro: ‘I would’ve coached Napoli for free’

Former Italian soccer players Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini attend the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks on March 23, 2024 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. 

Fabio Cannavaro admits he would’ve accepted the Napoli job ‘free of charge’ as it was his ‘dream,’ but President Aurelio De Laurentiis never offered it to him.

The former Napoli, Parma, Juventus, Inter and Real Madrid defender was widely travelled, but remains forever connected to his hometown and the club that represents it.

When he was spotted sitting near De Laurentiis in the stands during Napoli-Empoli, the final match before Rudi Garcia was fired to make way for Walter Mazzarri, many assumed it meant he was being lined up for the role.

“I would’ve coached Napoli free of charge, it is the dream for all coaches,” Cannavaro told Sportitalia.

When questioned about the options, De Laurentiis said that he had a short-list of 50 names, but that Cannavaro was not on it.

“I don’t think that a lack of experience is why I was not on that list. Many people do not respect the experience I earned in China, but I am a coach and I want to work. I returned to Italy two years ago and continue to study, because coaching is what I want to do.”

The Ballon d’Or winner worked as an assistant manager to Cosmin Olaroiu at Al-Ahli in 2013-14 before branching out on his own in China with Guangzhou Evergrande, then Al-Nassr, back to China with Tianjin Quanjian and Guangzhou Evergrande again.

After just two games as caretaker manager of the China national team, he had his only European coaching experience.

It was short-lived and very disappointing, lasting from September 2022 to February 2023 at Serie B side Benevento.

He oversaw three wins, seven draws and seven defeats.

As for Napoli, they sacked Mazzarri too and brought in Francesco Calzona, who is unlikely to remain before the end of this season as he is also working as the coach of the Slovakia national team.

“The problem this season is that there were too many changes and the players had to assimilate too many different tactical ideas,” argued Cannavaro.

“It’s only natural they got a bit confused. Against Atalanta this weekend is their last chance at getting back into the race for a Champions League spot.”

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