As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Massimo Donati exclusive: Celtic so special for me; Ange at Tottenham my type of coach; Juventus impressive

Italy and Scotland. Serie A and the Premiership. Massimo Donati made his home in two nations over a near 20-year playing career.

From AC Milan and Atalanta, to Celtic and Hamilton Academical, Donati left an indelible mark wherever he played. His personality and on-field performance always made him a favourite of fans and one the media consistently sought for a quote and opinion.

As an Italy U21 international, Donati stood out with Atalanta before being signed by Silvio Berlusconi's Milan. He would spent six years on the Rossonero's books, though enjoyed his best moments away on-loan with the likes of Sampdoria, Bari and his old club Atalanta - before taking that call from Glasgow.

The former midfielder won a league and Cup with Celtic. And he is now taking that success into his fledgling coaching career, including a promotion from Serie D for Legnago Salus. Typically, Donati is building his coaching career back home in Italy - though it was actually launched in Scotland with Hamilton's U15 team.

In this Q&A, Donati discusses with not only his career, but also offers his opinion on today's game - including how he sees some of his old teams now performing - particularly his beloved Hoops.

In the UK, you'll always be associated with Celtic, what does the club mean to you?

"For me, all the experiences were wonderful and I felt welcomed by everybody everywhere. But if I had to choose the highest point of my career I would say Celtic because due to that team, I had the chance to play in the Champions League.

"In contrast, I must say the lowest point of my career I would say was the six months at Torino where the club had a lot of problems, the situation there was chaos."

Even with all the experiences in Italy, it's still the Hoops that come first?

“As I said before it was the highest point of my career. Before I went there, of course I knew the history of the club or better let's say I felt like I knew it.

"But when I arrived, I understood what it meant to play for a club like Celtic, why the fans are crazy about this club and why this club is one of the most iconic in the world. Even nowadays I still remember the emotions of playing the derby there against Rangers and how the stadium was on those occasions."

So what about this season? Are you confident the title will be Celtic's?

"Normally, I want and I hope that Celtic win it. It's a battle this year between Celtic and Rangers, also Celtic won the last derby. It's still early to say who will win it in the end, but as I said I hope it is Celtic who will manage to win it."

What have you made of the change with Ange Postecoglou leaving for Tottenham and Brendan Rodgers returning?

“For me, Ange is a very good coach, though I didn't know in the beginning if he would have success or not there because every season is different and things can change quickly. I read an interview with him some days ago where he said that his principles and philosophy wouldn't ever change despite the league he plays or the team he trains and this shows a lot for a coach and his belief in his principles.

"This is an important thing because every coach should work like this."

What about the coaches you worked with? Who stands out?

"I would say that two of the coaches that have been the most important for me and from which I have learned a lot and I am trying to implement what I learned from them in my coaching journey are (Gian Piero) Gasperini and (Giampiero) Ventura.

"From these two I have tried always to learn more and more every day to understand better their philosophy and what they searched from me as a player - but also in their general approach."

What about this season's Serie A?

"The surprise in a positive way for me is Juventus. Despite not having a beautiful style of play, it is very solid and stable and manages to find a way to get the three points.

"Instead, the surprise in a negative way for me without any doubt is Napoli, which has changed a lot from the performances of last season."

And Serie B...?

"I think Parma is having a great season, the club did well to not change the coach (Fabio Pecchia). The club made a good choice to continue to believe in this coach, his ideas, and to continue the project they started with him. I think Parma is the main favourite for promotion and being in Serie A next season."

What do you expect from Italy at the Euros?

"The possibilities of winning the Euros is very hard to say because it's a difficult tournament with very strong teams. For me, Luciano Spalletti brought enjoyment back to the team, brought the desire for the national team, and for me this is a very important aspect."

Video of the day:

About the author

Xhulio Zeneli


Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free