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Roberto Mancini has talent (Video)

Long before he was manager of Manchester City, Roberto Mancini was lighting up the pitches of Serie A for Sampdoria and Lazio. The passionate and delightfully talented No 10 spent 15 years at Sampdoria, helping them to the league title, four Italian cups and the Cup Winners Cup. His partnership with Gianluca Vialli was very productive, although he never featured on a regular basis for the Italian national side due to his team mate often being preferred to partner Roberto Baggio for the Azzurri.

After moving to Lazio in 1997 he went on to win another Serie A title and manager Sven Goran Eriksson could already see his future career as a coach developing. 

“I took him to Lazio with me and he wanted to be a manager even while he was a player. He was the coach, he was the kit man, he was the bus driver, everything. Sometimes I would have to tell him: ‘Mancio, you have a game to play on Sunday, you will be exhausted if you have to control everything.’ But he was like that.”

Notoriously volatile, he was prone to letting his feelings out on team mates, opposition players, coaches or anyone else that he felt he had a grievance with. Questions were asked whether his character would ultimately ruin his career but fortunately he had enough quality to regularly prove the doubters wrong; 541 games in Serie A and 156 goals show that he was certainly up there with the best.

Deft touches of class combined with deadly accurate and powerful shooting skills meant that he was able to play either as an advanced attacking midfielder or an out and out striker. His sense of timing and ability to make even the most difficult of goals look simple were what made him stand out from the crowd. 

Despite never playing for any of the traditionally big sides such as Juventus, Milan, or Inter, he forged a career in Italy that led to a lot of respect amongst fans. A very brief spell at the end of his playing career at Leicester City did not allow English fans to fully appreciate his talents. He was 36 years old by this point and on the verge of hanging up his boots. However, this short period of time in the Midlands gave Mancini his love for English football and he would eventually return to these shores to lead Manchester City to Premiership glory.

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