14 December, 2019
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«I am from Ponte San Giovanni, born and raised along the Tiber. This river has meant- and still means- a lot for me».

My phone rings.

«Good morning, it’s Serse Cosmi. Can we have our interview right now, as I am busy later?».

«All right, give me five minutes».
I admit that I still had not turned on the computer and I was half sleepy, but I immediately woke up.
Rarely someone called me to anticipate an interview and not to cancel it: not Serse Cormi, he is one’s word! I did not confess it (now he will read it here), but I was at the the Curi stadium when he was coaching Perugia. Chatting with him was fun, there was more than a laugh. Despite having toured Italy to train many teams – from Pontevecchio to the Maremma, from Perugia to Genoa, up to Udinese, Brescia, Livorno, Palermo, to name a few –  he is genuinely from Perugia, as he says, «a perugino from Ponte San Giovanni».

 

Serse Cosmi

What is your link with Umbria?

The Umbrians are tied in a deep way to their land and their roots: having a profession that makes me trael around Italy, I feel a lot of this link. When you’re out, you appreciate even more where you were born and your home town. For me it is, and remains, a very strong bond.

Do you still consider yourself “the Man of the river”, a man from Ponte San Giovanni?

Absolutely yes. I am from Ponte San Giovanni (n.d.r. suburb of Perugia) and here there is a big difference: when I was a child, there were the inhabitants of the Perugia’s downtown and those of the “bridges”. I claim loudly to be from Ponte San Giovanni and to have being born near the Tiber, a river to which I have been linked since childhood.

What did the Tiber represent for you?

My generation is perhaps the last one who had a bath in the Tiber: I learned to swim in its waters, I played there and of course, I went to dance at the “Lido Tevere”. I spent my childhood near the river, growing up by seeing it flowing, is something that you carry in forever.

Today there is a plenty of coaches who didn’t work their way up the ladder, starting from junior teams as you did: what do you think, is a change of our time or the rush to have someone famous as a coach?

Both of them Who has been a great footballer has already had great privileges in that trade, but I do not consider it right, because if he undertakes another profession – that of coaching – he should before gain a lot of experience so as he did to achieve the highest levels as a player. Let me explain: who has played with Juventus, Inter or Milan has made its own path, starting from the minor series until playing to that high level. The same thing should apply to a coach, considering that it is another job. But if the profession of the coach is considered as an extension of the career of player, then I shut up! Obviously a great player can also become a great coach…

But not even the opposite is not to be taken for granted: a great player will not necessarily become a great coach…

Yes, indeed. I always remember a phrase by Arrigo Sacchi: “It’s not that to be a good jockey you must have been a horse”.

Gaucci, Zamparini, Preziosi… you met some real mastiffs: during these years do you think that the relationship between coaches and presidents has changed?

Times have definitely changed. The presidents are now more than managers, the passionate aspect has diminished – even if their managerial role has always been there. Many roles have changed in football, and that of presidents has also changed: today they are dealing with very different aspects compared to 20-30 years ago. They openly confront the coaches and talk to them about football as if they were doing the same job, but it is not interchangeable. Gaucci, for example, was one of the least intrusive presidents who I worked with. He was more a supporter so as his reactions, but I never had the feeling that he pushed me – even in a veiled way – to make me play one player in place of another. If it happened, it was so good that I never saw it! (Laughs).

Is there a player who you have a special relationship with?

There are many, but I was more tied to those of early career with whom I had shared many human and sporting moments. I think of the guys from Pontevecchio, from Arezzo and those of early years in Perugia. Then I also met other players that I often stay in touch with, but the most direct relationship I have maintained, is with those with whom I started.

Which player would you have wished to train but you never did?

Francesco Totti. He is a player who has always intrigued me.

Are you nostalgic for Perugia? Have you ever thought of coming back to train this team or is it an era that ended by now?

Not nostalgic. We are nostalgic for something that can never be verified again. As long as I do this job there could always be an opportunity to return to the bench of Perugia, the fact is that – during there 30 years as a coach – I have never went back to a society where I have already been.

Maybe for Perugia it would be possible…

Let’s say it’s one of the few teams I would do it for.

Is there an episode of your career which you remember with more affection?

The phone call from Luciano Gaucci in the locker room after our victory at the San Siro’s stadium against Milan: it was before Christmas and before his birthday. That episode will remain indelible for me because I had the perception of how much he cared about the team, the players and how much when he was involved humanely. At that time he was not a president, but a fan who had realized that his team had achieved an exceptional goal: it was the first time in its history that the Perugia team had won at San Siro.

 

Serse Cosmi dj

If you did not worked as a coach what job would you have done, the DJ?

Actually I’m a DJ who is a coach as a hobby! I am a teacher of physical activity, I had a gym for 10 years so I thought that I would remain in the field of sport. Even though, at the age of 60, I sometimes think about reinventing myself and doing another job. For me, music is a hobby and it remains so, “soccer” started as a hobby, but then it became a job.

Tell us something about you that your fans do not know…

When I won the championship with the Pontevecchio and I obtained the “D series”. My father was a founder of the company and the team had never arrived at playing in that category. I drived all night, thinking about my childhood and many other things. It was the most exciting thing since I have coached.

And a secret not related to the soccer world?

I would like to work at the theater, meet people and discover everything about it. It is a world that has always appealed to me a lot.

Do you do superstitious gestures?

When I was training amateurs I used to change my underwear for every game, I never wore the same. Or after winning a game I always did the same path.

Do you have an anecdote related to Perugia, when you were only a fan?

With the Perugia club of Ponte San Giovanni I went to watch a match in Foggia: halfway we were really in a bad condition, because of beers and various drinks. Fortunately, thanks to the long journey by bus, we recovered and we arrived at the stadium in a dignified way.

How do you consider the Umbrian soccer schools, how should they be strengthened?

When I will stop being a coach, my dream is to create or do something in the soccer field. Surely it will not be called soccer school, but youth sector. In my opinion, one of the worst aspect in this field, is the fact of having matched the word school with the word soccer: the school has a value and it is a place where there are teachers who train the boys, while in the soccer, the real problem are those who teach because they show soccer in a misrepresented way or at least in a different way from my point of view. This is the reason why my dream is to create a youth sector where you do not pay, where talent emerges and where soccer can be a real social value. A place open to everyone, where talent is rewarded, but also where everyone can play.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Tough- about the attitude of people – authentic, distant.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

Spello.

«For me Umbria represents childhood and adolescence, but I could not live far from Florence».

I had in mind a thousand questions to ask Giancarlo Antognoni, but I had to summarize all my curiosities and above all synthesize a glowing career. Midfielder and historical member of Fiorentina football team – of which today is a sports manager – and World Champion in 1982: all this andch more is Antognoni. With San Marco Juventina he had his first experience in this world: “It is always intact in my mind the memory of the field in which I used to play, in Prepo. It was a dirt court but for us children it was a dream to play in it. I left Perugia when I was 15, but every time I visit it, the memory always comes back”.
Symbol of a team and a nostalgic of a football that is becoming increasingly faded: «It is difficult for a player today to wear the same shirt throughout his career». With us he talked about his Umbria and a football made of passion and dedication…

 

Giancarlo Antognoni

The first question is a must: what is your link with Umbria?

It is certainly strong, as I always carry with me the pleasant memories of the region in which I was born and I spent my childhood. Now, no longer having my parents who live there, I am in Umbria less frequently, even if I still have relatives in Perugia.

In Perugia your father had a bar that was also an AC Milan club and you dreamed of playing with Milan: in your heart is something left linked to the “Rossoneri”?

The memory and the sympathy for Rossoneri remained, even because my whole family was cheering for Milan. But eventually, in my heart, the purple color clearly prevailed.

You were a flag and a symbol of Fiorentina team: why is it so difficult today for a player to become a symbol of a team?

I believe that this is a wider phenomenon. Today football is completely different from how it used to be when I played. Now everythingis has completly changed: it is difficult for a player to wear the same shirt throughout his career. There are different dynamics between a player and the world of TV and sponsors. The players too tend looking for different life experiences:  fori stance many of them go to play in China, Australia or in the USA.

You started playing as a kid with San Marco Juventina team: do you have any anecdote related to those years that you’d like to tell us?

They are the indelible memories of a kid who kicked a ball, the desire for freedom and to play for fun. Then it is always intact in my mind the field in which we played, in Prepo: it was a dirt field, but for us children it was a dream to play in it. I left when I was only 15 years old, but every time I visit Umbria, the memory always comes back.

After 36 years, what is the first thing that comes to your mind thinking about the victory of the World Cup?

There are so many beautiful things that it is difficult to remember them all. Certainly I can say the arrival at Ciampino with President Sandro Pertini with two wings of crowd that escorted us to the Quirinale. Then, unfortunately, there is also the great regret of not being able to play the final due to an injury.

What would you recommend to a kid who is bought by an important club?

The advice is to never change, to face the experience in an important club like when I started playing football. We must always maintain serenity, passion, dedication to work, without thinking of having arrived.

Have you ever thought of going back to Umbria, maybe in the Perugia team staff?

Honestly, I haven’t, even because I left Umbria when I was too young. Perugia for me represents childhood and adolescence, but later Florence became my home and it is difficult for me to see myself far from here.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Hospitality, beauty of nature and territory and good food.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking of this region…

I remember my childhood, when I was a child, the beauty of this region and its extraordinary quality of life.

 «The game that satisfied me the most? The one in favor of the people of Norcia hit by the earthquake».

More than two hundred matches in A Series, international referee since 2007 – 2017 was his last season because he reached age limits – seventeen years of activity with the debut in the top flight in 2003 and Élite Uefa referee since 2012. These are the numbers of Paolo Tagliavento, the most representative whistle in Umbria and beyond. During the game, he is strict, in order to guide the twenty-two players; on the contrary, with us he is easy-going and kind. He is an Umbrian proud of his land.

 

Paolo Tagliavento

What is your bond with Umbria and with Terni?
It is a very strong bond, because I was born in Terni, I grown up there and I still live there. I love my region and I am very fond of the people I have lived with and who have been part of my childhood.

Do you think that Umbria is a region that is “out of the game”, cut off from other realities?
For the position it has, it’s a bit cut off because of its infrastructures. For example, I often use the car for my travels. Fiumicino is not far, so I also take the plane when I leave far away, while the train is not really comfortable. In some ways, being a little out of nowhere can be an advantage, because you can experience peace and tranquility.

If Umbria was a football rule, what would it be?
The edge. Which is a special rule: when you apply it makes the game more bearable. The edge of Umbria is in its landscapes, food and life.

Is there a game that you always wanted to referee but you has not done yet?
I could say the final of the World Cup, because it is the dream of any referee and few people get there. Instead, I will tell you the game that satisfied me the most: a charity game after the earthquake of 2016, which was held in Norcia between actors and civil protection personnel. It was something concrete for Umbria and it made me very proud.

The Umbrians are accused of being narrow-minded, do you recognize yourself in this stereotype?
No, it never happened to me. Perhaps in the northern part of Umbria they are more narrow minded than Terni, which is influenced by the Roman way of living.

Are there in Umbria young referees who could reach your level?
There is an excellent school of arbitration assistants, who have reached good levels. As for the referees in the Lega Pro and Series D there is someone for it could make their way.

What would you recommend?
I would advise him to give its best, always. To have passion and to make sacrifices, because only in this way we can reach these levels. Passion is the driving force, but it is not enough. It also takes commitment and hunger to reach the goal. This profession should be put a little in front of everything. The funnel is very tight and few come in the A series. But I would also recommend to have fun and enjoy.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Beautiful, unique, open-minded.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
Serenity.