Inter Milan coach Leonardo has credited Adriano Galliani – chief of city rivals AC Milan – for inspiring him to become a football manager.
Leonardo, 41, has quickly endeared himself to the Inter faithful since replacing Rafa Benitez at the helm of the troubled club, leading Inter to four straight Serie A victories.
The Brazilian got his managerial start at arch-enemy AC Milan, serving as a technical director before being promoted to head coach when Carlo Ancelotti moved to Chelsea in May 2009.
And Leonardo, speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash at Udinese, admitted he owed a great deal to Inter’s bitter rivals.
“I’ve always had an excellent relationship with Galliani,” Leonardo told reporters.
“I respect him a lot, he gave me a lot. He gave me many opportunities and what he said is true – he was the one who convinced me to be a coach.”
“I am a coach now and I consider myself a privileged person for the past year and a half.”
The Inter boss also confirmed that both Maicon and Thiago Motta are ready to return from injury at Udinese, and praised his attacking trio of Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev for their contribution to Inter’s superb January run.
“(Maicon and Motta) will be playing so they’re fine,” he said.
“We’ve waited up to now to see their conditions and they’re fine, they will be at our total disposal tomorrow.”
“We will meet many good players. Udinese is a solid team, they have clear ideas of what they want, they are gaining good results so we definitely have to be careful.”
“Eto’o and Milito together are an extraordinary couple. Pandev is improving too and today I see him more as a striker rather than out of position, like he’s recently played.”
“Having three players who can score goal is important and today Samuel is in excellent shape.”