Manuel Pascali sets sights on the day he can get back to Kilmarnock

Manuel Pascali in action for Kilmarnock (SNS Group)

MANUEL PASCALI doesn’t have to look beyond the end of his nose to get a reminder of Scotland.

And the former Kilmarnock captain admits he’s seriously thinking about returning to the country.

He’s delighted to see his old team prospering under Steve Clarke and would love to become manager at Rugby Park himself one day.

For the moment, though, he’ll settle for becoming a supporter if Killie can qualify for Europe.

The 37-year-old Italian, now playing for Cosenza in Serie B, is incredibly passionate about all things surrounding Scottish football.

He said: “There is a big connection between myself and Scottish people.

“I have the ginger beard now as well. I’ve been doing Movember and the red hair started coming through.

“Maybe a couple of hundred years ago my family was in Scotland!

“I was talking with my wife about it and saying that sometimes I seriously feel like Kilmarnock is my home.

“When you spend seven years in the same team, it’s a big part of your life.

“In modern football, you can’t easily find players who stayed with one club for such a long time, especially foreign players.

“When people ask me how long I stayed in Scotland and I answer seven years, they go crazy.

“My kids are six and nine now. I think it might be better for them in Scotland.

“I took the UEFA B coaching licence in Scotland, but I’m still doing OK as a player.

“We won our league last season and are now in Serie B.

“I know I don’t have a lot of time left, but I feel I’m still important to my team.

“I won’t hang up my boots until I feel I’m not making a contribution.

“You never know what’s going to happen in our profession but I can see myself back here one day doing something for the club.

“I have no regrets about staying so long. I maybe only regret not staying longer.

“I probably stayed seven years because I loved the passion in the football and the fans.

“It’s the same passion we have in Italy.”

Pascali was with Killie when they beat Celtic to win the League Cup in 2012, but he missed the final because of injury.

The club then surprisingly dispensed with the services of boss Kenny Shiels and struggled for several years.

The dramatic upturn under Steve Clarke has delighted Pascali.

He went on: “My first year away ,they were in the relegation play-off. That made me sad to see them struggling.

“Under Steve Clarke, they are flying.

“I watched a couple of matches that were on when I wasn’t playing and really enjoyed them.

“I saw them beating Celtic last season and they looked so, so organised.

“Everybody looks like they know exactly what they’re doing and the results are coming. It’s not a coincidence.

“They look like a serious top-six club at the moment.”

Pascali was back in Ayrshire recently to play in the Kris Boyd Testimonial.

That visit reminded him of how much he misses his old club.

He said: “I hope they will achieve something this season and get the dream of playing in Europe again.

“Maybe they will draw an Italian team.That would be ideal so that I could go and watch.

“I always said that Kilmarnock as a club had to be competing for a place in the top six and going for fifth or fourth, fighting with the likes of Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian.

“When I was there, we only missed out because of small things, details.

“It looks like they have that with this manager.

“When you do things properly off the park as a club, as well as on it, the results will come.”