Rumori di Spogliatoio

Giampaolo Saurini, Frank Liivak’s coach

Angelo PalmeriComment

Giampaolo Saurini will turn 45 on the 13th of November.
A career spent in football: born in Colleferro, in the province of Rome, he kicked off his professional career at SS Lazio as a forward in 1986 when, however, he didn’t collect any appearance.

He later joined Cagliari on loan to score 3 goals in 21 caps (1987-88).


He didn’t play much for the Roman side, always on and off loan: he collected 12 caps and just one goal. His career mostly developed away from the metropolitan football: Bergamo (Atalanta), Brescia, Palermo and Padova were his big clubs before closing his career with minor ones in lower tiers

He was a forward, exactly like Frank Liivak. His best season was in Sicily, 16 goals in 1996-97 with Palermo’s pink shirt in 34 appearances in Serie B.

He retired ten years ago and started his coaching career at Brescia Calcio as the Primavera (U-19) team coach.
When in 2009 Brescia main team coach was fired, he was rumoured to take his place along with other more experienced ones.

After four years in Northern Italy, Giampaolo returned to the South, in Napoli, to coach the breeding ground of talents which is the Napoli Primavera team (2012): Lorenzo Insigne, a regular alongside Higuain, Hamsik and Callejon. ‘Lorenzino’ was ‘born’ here and was part of the ‘scugnizzeria’, an untranslatable Napoli dialect expression coming from the word ‘scugnizzo’, boy.

Frank Liivak joined Saurini and the squad at the end of August 2013 from Holland.

The value of the experience for the talented U-17 is priceless: besides playing in competitive tournaments (Campionato Nazionale Primavera and, most of all, UEFA Youth League) he has the chance to learn tips from an experience football person as Saurini and a former forward nonetheless.

Frank has managed to score already his first goal for the club (picture: a Coppa Italia tie against Palermo, funny coincidence with his coach playing career’s peak…) and he has already collected few appearances (2 in the Campionato Nazionale Primavera, 1 in the UEFA Youth League and 1 in the Coppa Italia).

With the U-17 FIFA World Cup taking place in United Arab Emirates, the national competition is pausing in the boot country (it will resume on the 2nd of November). Two of Frank’s teammates have departed with the Italian national team (Gennaro Tutino and Antonio Romano).
One of them, Tutino, is the captain and topscorer of the Primavera that will take on Olympique Marseille this afternoon in France (16:00 EEST): will Liivak take the burden of the forward line and score his first ‘European’ goal?

Coach Saurini hasn’t talked specifically about this in his interview to ‘Corriere dello Sport’ however he has given a guideline for what he thinks will be a delicate game and some important information on his tactical project is developing allowing some youngsters to already be part of the main squad


What is Youth League after all?
It’s many things, mostly positive. It’s a chance for these boys to increase their experience, which is still light. It’s a chance to make them more responsible, to launch them in global football on-the-move with the possibility of teaching them something regardless the final score. Never as before we can say: it is important to participate, as in this case. Of course, we do take part to aim to the top.

Isn’t a risk to distract their focus from the usual targets?
As for the main team, this competition might take focus away from usual national competitions: we might lose points in the championship and in the cup. However I think it’s worth. I would swap winning the Youth League with the ‘scudetto’ (the title assigned to Italian Champions also at youth level – A.P.)

In Marseille you have a delicate match ahead and Tutino and Romano are not available.
Of course, but we will get over this. No one is irreplaceable, however I must admit when they are in the starting XI our technical rate is higher. True also that the captain (Tutino – A.P.) was important in the game against BVB (he scored the winning goal – A.P.) however I am pleased by the positive performance of all the squad. And I am surprised we have 3 points in the group already. I would like to stress that our squad is averagely younger than the others, both in Europe and in Italy.

How the away trip to Marseille was planned?
We left Naples yesterday at 9am (10am EEST – A.P.) and via Venice got in Marseille at lunch time. Gianluca Grava, the technical director of the youth teams, is travelling with us ( Grava retired from football last year after 8 seasons with Napoli with whom he started from the bottom of Serie C1 when the club was relegated due to financial problems- A.P.).
In the evening, we will all be at the Velodrome stadium to follow the main team game against OM (Frank is already a regular attendee at Napoli’s games which, as he said in several interviews, boosts his motivation in his everyday work – A.P.)


Has changing formation (from 3-men defence line to 4) been penalizing you?
Obviously we’re still fine tuning the new formation. It’s a work in progress, however I am very confident we will manage. Our squad has to become the alter-ego of Benitez’s squad in case Rafa would call any of them, which actually has already happened as some of the boys have trained with the main team. We are the youngest side of Campionato Nazionale Primavera, therefore this season will be helpful for settling down. However, it doesn’t mean we will underestimate the three competitions we’re running for.


Competing, growing and collecting experience, the key-words of coach Saurini for Frank to face this important season for his career whose another important landmark could be set already tonight at ‘Stade Marcel Cerdan’ in the town of Carnoux en Provence.