Rino Gattuso’s No. 2 believes his boss has unfinished business with Rangers, and would love to return to Ibrox one day to coach.
The World Cup winner, a cult hero with the Light Blues as a player in the late 1990s, led Napoli to Coppa Italia glory during the week.
Up against Juventus – the powerhouse of Italian football and on course for the Serie A title – Gattuso’s men upset the odds with a penalty shoot-out success.
It gave Gattuso his first major trophy as a manager in what is already his sixth post.
As such, it was a significant landmark in a coaching career path that has already included spells with Sion, OFI Crete, Palermo, Pisa and AC Milan.
“Winning the Italian Cup was really important for us,” said Luigi Riccio, the 42-year-old’s assistant and a former club mate at Rangers and Perugia.
His time at Ibrox amounted to one substitute appearance at Fir Park in May, 1999.
“It is a prestigious trophy, and was a boost for everyone in the group’s confidence, and awareness of our own abilities to succeed in the game,” Riccio continued.
“Rino is at the forefront. He is an excellent coach. He has charisma, attention to detail and a lot of determination.
“When we talk about him, we always say that he has a strong and gritty character. But behind that he is a real student of the game.
“He thinks a lot about tactics and motivation. He is a coach with the ability to get inside the mind of his players – that is one of his biggest strengths.
“At the moment we are 100% focused on this experience at Napoli, but we don’t know what will happen in the future.
“We are professionals, we evaluate the job, and the offers. We are always ready for new challenges.
“In my opinion, Rino would be a perfect fit for the English Premier League.
“And, of course, I think I can say with certainty that Rino would be delighted if he could return to Rangers as a coach in the future.
“It is no secret the club is close to his heart.
“When Rino remembers his time at Ibrox and the games he played, the emotion is clear to see in his eyes.”
Signed by Walter Smith in 1997, Gattuso only spent 15 months in Scotland, playing for Rangers 34 times.
He made an impact, though, with fans relishing the combative skills he would later use to help Milan to Champions League and Serie A glory and, in 2006, Italy win the World Cup.
“Myself and Rino are like brothers,” Riccio went on.
“In the middle of the 1990s, we were together at Perugia. I was not in the team, but he was playing and there was a lot of talk about him.
“He was in Italy’s Under-21 side, and people were predicting he would have a big future in the game.
“Rangers were one of the ones who had taken note because they came in for him and a deal was struck.
“When he got to Scotland, Rino asked the club to take me, too.
“They scouted me first to see if I could play, then signed me.
“That was great for me because it was in Glasgow that our friendship really blossomed.
“We were always together and we had a great time. We both loved it in Scotland.
“Rino quickly became friendly with a local restaurant owner, who helped us settle in to life in the city. Later that man would become his father-in-law.
“And, of course, the Rangers fans are fantastic – in the stadium and when you meet them in the streets, in restaurants or in the casino.
“Rino was very young at the time, but the supporters loved him. They made up songs about him, something that is always a positive sign.
“He loved that and still holds the memories dear.
“So, yes, in the future there might be a chance to make more memories there for him.
“Right now we are happy for Napoli, and happy for football to be back again after what has been such a tough time for everyone.”
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