Now in his third season with Udinese, Marco Silvestri has firmly established himself as one of Serie A's most consistent and popular goalkeepers. In an extensive Q&A with Tribalfootball.com, Silvestri takes us through his time with the Zebrette, his three years in England with Leeds United and some of the talent he's shared a locker room with in recent seasons.
ALL CHANGE AT UDINESE
It's been an inconsistent season so far for Udinese, while the team hasn't been in crisis, the board chose to dispense with coach Andrea Sottil and replace him with Lele Cioffi. The appointment marked a return to Udinese for Cioffi and also a reunion for Silvestri. The pair having worked together at Hellas Verona.
Udinese How has the last week been with Lele Cioffi coming in for Andrea Sottil?
The change of coach gave us a good shock, when you change it means that things aren't going well and that we players are also to blame.We know, however, that in football the first person to pay the consequences is the coach but at that moment we realized that the time had come to change our attitude.Cioffi arrived, motivated and convinced of what he had to do and he gave us a lot of determination too.
Any disappointment that Sottil lost his job? What happened after that fantastic first half of last season?
I can't explain what happened because we were extraordinary at the beginning of last year but then, in terms of results, we dropped a lot even in the face of good performances, we always lacked something to get the points we deserved.
Has Cioffi made any major changes? Have you swapped any English football stories with him after his time with Crawley?
As I know him, he is very suited to English football because having been there I know how they play in the lower leagues.He sees football very quickly with and without the ball; we press the opponents very hard.The main change that he brought is that he placed us much more compact in defense and, in attack; we look for depth much more, which is the best choice for a team like ours.
For an audience outside of Italy, tell us a little about Udinese as a club - how does it compare with Leeds?
Udinese is a top-level club that provides its players with important technical, medical and media staff.They are very attentive to the players, it never makes them feel alone, the facilities at the Bluenergy Stadium (Stadio Friuli)are excellent and all this allows us to only think about doing well on the pitch, this is very important for the new guys who are always well looked after.In Leeds, as well as throughout England, the structures are much more advanced than in Italy… except those of Udinese.
Regarding yourself, are you happy with your form this season?
I know I could have done better on a couple of occasions but I have often managed to help the team win points but I am convinced that I will help them even more.
ENJOYING LIFE WITH LEEDS
Silvestri spent three years at Elland Road under a series of managers. The Italian made the move as part of Andrea Radrizzani's revolution at Leeds as a young Silvestri had impressed Radrizzani while on-loan with his Cagliari in Serie A from Chievo. His form during that stint earned him a €1m move to Leeds in 2014 as Radrizzani was taking charge.
What about your time with Leeds? Do you look back at it fondly?
I remember Leeds with great pleasure; I learned English and discovered a beautiful culture, outside of football.On a football level, English football has always fascinated me; I have wonderful memories of splendid matches with lots of fans that I will carry with me always.I will always be a Leeds fan.
Did you follow Leeds in the Premier League and with Bielsa?
Yes, I have always followed them and I still follow them, I was sorry about the relegation, it is a city that deserves the Premier League.
What did you make of their relegation last season?
I was very disappointed; the Premier League is very difficult.It's not easy to stay there but I'm sure they'll come back soon.
You've been linked with a return to England in recent seasons, how close have you come? Would you like to go back?
I always said, years ago, that I would have liked to go and play for a team in London to experience that city on a daily basis but I only had this window of opportunity after the Leeds experience… before going to Verona.
What was it like working for Andrea Radrizzani? Do you think he can revive Sampdoria?
I didn't work with him for long, I met him but he gave me the impression that he loved football very much and was a connoisseur.He's a serious person, they didn't start well with Sampdoria and the Italian Serie B is complicated, it always reserves surprises.I believe, however, that he already has a plan to get back to Serie A as quickly as he did with Leeds.
What did you learn from playing in England? Did you improve as a goalkeeper? Is there a difference for keepers playing in England and Italy?
It certainly gave me a lot of experience, it taught me to live my role in a slightly different way, and I think I found a good mix that I learned there and that I still carry with me now.I had excellent trainers who helped me understand the championship.In Englandthey were already looking at footwork a lot when I was there, it was the first time they asked me to play with my feet and I started to work really hard on it, in fact from that moment on I improved a lot with my feet.
Absolutely, I could see that mentally and technically he was a very promising player and a great guy.I would certainly see him do well in these top Italian clubs. He is a top club player and he would do very well there.
A MESSAGE FOR UDINESE FANS
At Udinese before the start of the season, Silvestri waved goodbye to Destiny Udogie, who has settled so impressively at Tottenham. And with Gerard Deulofeu still recovering from knee surgery, it can be argued this first-half of the season was always going to be a grind for Silvestri and his teammates.
Destiny Udogie followed a similar path to you - can you tell us a little about him.How good can he be?
I saw Udo make his debut when we played together in Verona.I have always considered him a great talent and a hard worker, in 4 years I have never heard him complain.I was convinced he would do very well straight away in the Premier League because he has all the characteristics but I believe he can continue to grow and become a top top player.
Lazar is a very important player, an incredible talent.When the affair with Inter happened, this summer, we joked with him a bit when he came back but we are happy to know that he would be with us this year and I am convinced that he will soon go to a great team.
As a teammate, is it frustrating seeing Gerard Deulofeu go through the injury problems he's had?How big a miss has he been for the team?
I'm very sorry, Gerard is a very positive lad and he is a lad who makes the difference on the pitch, he is a player of the highest level. We certainly miss him and we hope that he can return soon.
You have a contract to 2025, which you signed last year, are you happy where you are and with the ambitions of the club?
As regards the contract, I know that there is a year and a half left until the end; I am calm because I feel much appreciated at Udinese.
What's your message to Udinese fans after the coaching change?
My message starts with thanks for the support we saw at home even in the last match, we deserved to beat Atalanta and I ask them to continue to support us as they have always done so far.
- Photo © Petrussi Foto Press