Luis Enrique was manager of AS Roma in the 20111/12 season and in an interview with the Italian club’s official website looked back at his time there and also ahead to their meeting at the Joan Gamper Trophy match on Wednesday evening. “It was a very positive influence for me” he says. “It was a difficult year because the club wanted it to be a time of transition with several new young players coming in while keeping the attractive way of playing. It was a very intense period, but I have very positive memories of it.”
The Asturian struggled at first “because of the language and trying to get my ideas across to the players. But my relationship with the players and the club was a very gratifying one. I am still in touch with some of the people that did and still do form part of Roma”.
“There are always things that all great players have in common” he comments on managing two of the greatest players in world football. “Messi is unique and for me the best player ever, but I was surprised by Francesco Totti’s ability to stay in the elite. There’s nobody like him on the ball, he’s so hard to mark and plays for the team. I was also surprised by his fitness and as the season progressed I appreciated what a true professional he is. He is a modern footballer, but he has always stayed loyal to Roma. There’s no question that he’s one of the best players this game has ever given us.”
He concludes that the Gamper will be a special game because he’ll be meeting up with four key members of the squad he once coached (Totti, De Rossi, Pjanic and Lobont), as well as other members of staff and the executive “with whom I have a great relationship and who always gave me all their support. I’m sure it’ll be a great game and hope we all end up happy, but that Barça win, of course!”