Atalanta President Antonio Percassi says he started believing in winning the Europa League after ‘that night at Anfield’ but reveals he had to apologise to UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin during the Final against Bayer Leverkusen.

On Wednesday night, Atalanta won their first European trophy and the second cup in the club’s history, beating Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen in an epic final in Dublin.

Percassi acquired a majority stake in Atalanta in 2010 and is now running the club alongside co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.

“It’s been a tough story, complicated sometimes, made of efforts and investments, but it’s a crazy thing that rewarded us,” Percassi said when asked to look back at his time at the helm of La Dea.

Percassi on ‘that night at Anfield’

“The other night, it was amazing to ask myself, ‘Where have we arrived?'”

When did he start believing Atalanta could win the trophy?

“That night at Anfield, I told myself: ‘I don’t believe in it, but we must believe!'”

Atalanta eliminated Liverpool from the quarter-finals with a 3-1 aggregate win, accomplished thanks to a stunning 3-0 victory away at Anfield.

Percassi on why he apologised to Ceferin during UEL Final

Leverkusen had not lost in almost a year and Percassi was pretty nervous during the game the other night.

“Ceferin was sitting close to me, and, as I usually do, I made my own commentary,” revealed the Atalanta President.

“I talk to my players from the stands. I was a bit ashamed, so once in a while, I would turn towards him and apologise. ‘I have to do it; even if they don’t hear me, you may think I am not normal,’ I said. On the contrary, he [Ceferin] was quite amused.”

Three key players of the Atalanta squad, Matteo Ruggeri, Marco Carnesecchi and Giorgio Scalvini are graduates of the club’s academy, which is probably the best in Italy.

“It’s amazing. It’s the closing of the circle,” said Percassi.

The 70-year-old appointed Gian Piero Gasperini in 2016 but the Italian had a tough start in Bergamo.

“After four defeats in the opening five games, I stood for him, going against the fans, too. I had seen him work on the pitch,” said Percassi, who also warned clubs interested in Atalanta players, reassuring the fans at the same time.

“We want an adequate team for the upcoming and exciting tournaments that have been added. We have never backtracked when it came to keeping the team competitive,” he said.

Can they afford to reject €60m for one of their aces, Teun Koopmeiners?

“Only if it was a coherent strategy for a provincial club that must balance the books. If you do, such an operation is because you have an equivalent replacement. We are not unprepared and we won’t sell key Atalanta players without being covered.”

Lastly, the club president reiterated that Charles De Ketelaere would join the club on a permanent transfer from Milan after a one-season loan.

“We like him and he is doing well. We will continue together,” Percassi concluded.

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