Gian Piero Gasperini credits his time with Genoa for laying “the foundations” of his Atalanta success and still regrets not playing the Champions League with the Grifone.
The 61-year-old tactician has become an honorary citizen of Bergamo after taking the Orobici to the Champions League for the first time in their history.
“The people of Bergamo moved me, but if I am achieving this success today, I owe a great deal to my years with Genoa. The foundations of my career are there,” Gasp told Secolo XIX newspaper.
He had two different spells on the Grifone bench, from 2006-10 and 2013-16, and remains a club icon.
They had 68 points in the 2008-09 Serie A season, on a par with Fiorentina in fourth place, but missed out due to an inferior head-to-head record.
“The results we achieved with Atalanta are extraordinary, but with Genoa we also finished fourth in Serie A alongside Fiorentina and that remains a great moment in my career. We deserved to qualify for the Champions League, as we had a fantastic squad.
“If we had entered the Champions League, maybe our history would’ve changed. We had Diego Milito and Thiago Motta, who knows… Above all, it would’ve been wonderful to be in the Champions League with Genoa, something the club had never achieved.”
Atalanta will face Genoa this weekend in Serie A and they are flying high under new boss Aurelio Andreazzoli.
“It’s one of the best Genoa sides we’ve seen, enthusiasm has returned to the club after some difficult years,” continued Gasperini.
“I know full well what it means to play at the Stadio Ferraris when there is enthusiasm in the air. I remember many wonderful moments, joyful results and successes. The Genoa fans know how to give you wings.
“(President Enrico) Preziosi wants to make up for the last few bad seasons, so he had only two paths to go down: leave or reboot. I know him well, he loves a challenge and knows about football.
“I’m pleased for him and director Stefano Capozucca is also an important return, because he created a small masterpiece by turning the team inside out. He loves the club, works well with Preziosi and I have to say once again did a great job.
“He focused on players like Andrea Pinamonti, who he knows well and who has a great future.”