The Infinite Wisdom of Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini

When people find out that I’m a journalist and broadcaster a fairly common response is “that must be interesting?”

You’d think, but like anything it can get repetitive from time to time. If Hugh Grant can stray from a mid-’90s Liz Hurley and Daniel Craig can decide he’s had enough of being James Bond I suppose anyone can grow tired of anything. Not that my meagre existence is in any way comparable to one spent doing the no-pants-dance with a Liz Hurley in her prime on a regular basis, or holding one of the most iconic roles in the history of cinema, but we play with the hand we’re dealt.

In the heavily scrutinised, and often overly sanitised, world of sports coverage you can read fresh quotes every day that essentially say the same thing – and football is by far the worst offender; the same kind of comments from managers (I swear to God “important” is the only English word Manuel Pellegrini knows) and players after almost every match, no insight, just platitudes that no longer hold any real meaning.

There are exceptions, but none can hold a candle to Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini.

No one is above his wrath, Carlo Ancelotti has won the European Cup/Champions League as both a player and manager but that doesn’t buy him Zamparini’s respect.

“Ancelotti doesn’t know anything about football,” he said in 2012 about the then Paris Saint-Germain boss.

“And do you know what I say? I’m glad that they lost in the Champions League (to Porto), and that hopefully he’ll learn not to play Nene in place of (Javier) Pastore. I don’t rate him as a manager.

“Pastore is still a young lad of 23 years who has found himself surrounded by the wrong people, but he remains a phenomenon.”

He broke a self-imposed six month media blackout to have a crack at Ancelotti for not using former Palermo man Pastore– and that’s nowhere near his A-Grade material.

After being accused of threatening to kill Sampdoria counterpart Massimo Ferrero – by Ferrero….

“Ferrero is insane. I never threatened to kill anyone,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.. “I have the messages stored. I told him not to talk to (Edgar) Barreto until we have discussed the renewal and I wrote: ‘Bravo, you’ll look on the bank of the river.’ This is certainly not a threat”.

In fairness, you have to see his point here. If a businessman based in Sicily cryptically tells you “you’ll look on the bank of the river” it would take a pretty paranoid individual to assume that could in any way be regarded as a warning on your life.

Zamparini recently axed Beppe Iachini as Palermo boss and treated us to some gold on that too. A clash with Chievo prior to the international break was Iachini’s final game after just over two years in charge, this is what Zamparini had to say beforehand to Giornale di Sicilia.

“We won’t be demoted, because Iachini will change the mentality or go home. We’ll see what happens on Sunday.

“I don’t doubt any of the players, or the quality of the squad, right now I’m worried about Iachini. Maybe he won’t agree, but for me it’s not the same as last year.

“There’s great confusion, he’s not as determined as he should be.”

They beat Chievo 1-0 but he was still sacked so clearly he didn’t change his mentality. Zamparini said afterwards to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio “there wasn’t any chemistry with Iachini anymore” and stated they secured the win thanks to “blind luck” in another interview.

Chemistry seems important to the Rosanero supremo, on previous boss Delio Rossi he branded him a “coach with no balls”, before re-hiring him just four weeks later and hitting us with “Rossi is like my wife, I want him all to myself” – that’s chemistry right there, although it proved to be short lived as he left again months later. I presume Mrs Zamparini doesn’t have a pair of danglers, and maybe some of the Palermo squad from 2003 don’t either as he threatened to “cut off their testicles and eat them” in his salad.

Never question his judgement, as players Enzo Maresca and Franco Vazquez discovered after they complained about Iachini’s exit.

“In Italy thanks to a stupid law the players are considered to be employees,” he told Radio 24.

“Maresca was talking bullshit*. I still care for him, but I’ll give him a telling off and warn he mustn’t talk rubbish anymore. He’s ignorant and should get informed before talking shit*. It’s not true that Iachini helped me earn €60m.

“All the team is behind me, except for a player and a half. Maresca is the one, Vazquez is the half. From now on, before talking about the club, these players must ask for my authorisation.

“Maresca should be thinking about the €500,000 he earns net at his age. Vazquez gets €800,000 and last season our books read -€23m, so we only balanced them thanks to Paulo Dybala’s sale.”

My all time favourite Zamparini rant, though, was inspired by “out-of-control womaniser” Kyle Lafferty around the time of his move to Norwich.

“Lafferty is sold as a result of a precise request from my Coach Beppe Iachini,” Zamparini told Radio 24.

“He is an out-of-control womaniser, an Irishman without rules. He is someone who disappears for a week and goes on the hunt for women in Milan.

“He has two families with six children, he never trains, he’s completely off the rails. On the field he’s a great player, because he gave us everything he had and more.

“In terms of his behaviour, however, he is uncontrollable. My Coach told me he cannot sort this player out, so he has to go.”

Sadly Zamparini won’t be around forever and he has claimed, in the same interview where he slammed Vazquez and Maresca, that his time in football is nearing a conclusion.

“My family wants me to leave football and this sport really is breaking my balls now. If I find someone who will buy the club, I’m ready to sell.”

So let’s make the most of him while he’s still around.

*I added ‘shit’ here, the original article was censored so I’ve guessed that’s what he said and chances are I’m right.* 

Follow us on Twitter @gonzosportsdesk, we’re not fancy we follow back.

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