Ex-Inter defender Marco Materazzi praises his friend and ‘pupil’ Gianluca Mancini and feels the Roma defender should be a starter for Italy at Euro 2024 alongside Alessandro Bastoni and Francesco Acerbi.

Materazzi is Mancini’s idol and role model. They’ve known each other for a long time, and the ex-Inter defender spoke about his ‘pupil’ in his latest interview with Gazzetta. First, Materazzi explained why he didn’t text the Roma defender after seeing him score against Lazio in Serie A and Milan in the Europa League quarter-finals.

“I don’t text him too much. I don’t think it’s needed, especially when you have a solid relationship like ours,” Materazzi said.

“I’m simply happy with his journey; he is deservedly reaping the rewards.”

When was the first time they met?

“He was playing for Perugia, another thing we have in common,” Materazzi revealed.

“Renzo Luchini, the legendary massage therapist, called me and said, ‘There is a guy who goes crazy for you. He even got the number 23 tattooed.’ I went out to meet him and gave him my shirt. It all started from there. I saw a special light. Now, he is a Romanista, but at that time, he only had eyes for Inter.”

Roma will play the second leg in Rome against Milan next week with a one-goal lead and fans are wondering how to get Europa League tickets given that the Olimpico will surely be sold out again.

“Even if he [Mancini] creates controversies and is divisive sometimes, he doesn’t change,” continued Materazzi.

“His fans love him, and the rivals hate me—just like it happened to me. It’s a quality; it means to be real. And he’s a good guy anyway. Never confuse what happens on the pitch with what goes on off the field.

“With time and experience, you can correct some errors but don’t talk to me about that Lazio flag. It was a mockery that ended there; blowing it out of proportion is useless. I would have said the same thing if a Lazio player had done it to him.”

What do they have in common?

“We don’t hide, and we fear nobody. I am left-footed, and he is right-footed. I am technically stronger, and he is faster. We would have formed a complete defensive partnership.”

Does Mancini play differently now that Daniele De Rossi is in charge?

“I see no difference; he gives his best regardless of who is around him,” Materazzi replied.

“When there are big changes, a player can lose certainties, but that’s not his case. He even played with a leg with Mourinho, and he deserved the captain’s armband.”

Should Mancini be part of the Italy squad at Euro 2024?

“Let’s start by saying that we are in a good position with excellent central defenders,” argued Materazzi a 2006 Italy World Cup winner.

“Gianluca was not called up for the last Euros but he deserved it. It was the biggest disappointment, but he found the strength to react from that moment. I see him as a starter at the Euros alongside Alessandro Bastoni and Francesco Acerbi.”

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