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De Fanti: Cats Striker Has World At His Feet; Sunderland A Great Experience For Me

Roberto De Fanti was an elusive figure at Sunderland, but since leaving more and more bits from him have cropped up in the media. He's just started to open up a little about his time on Wearside too...

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As the more eagled-eyed of you will have noted, Roberto De Fanti gave an interview to calciomercato.com this week. It was a very specific interview for a very specific audience aimed at covering the differences between English and Italian football. That said, there was plenty in there that was relevant to Sunderland too, and we are assured he will have plenty more to say about his time here in due course.

Incidentally, there are strong rumours in Italy that De Fanti could be joining Demitrio Albertini's campaign for the Italian Football Federation presidency, so that will be an interesting one to watch for developments. Anyway, here is a full translation - not from google - of De Fanti's interview.

On his Sunderland experience...

The Premier League has been an incredible experience, both personally and professionally. The club has achieved important results: 14th place after finishing 17th the year before, along with the first cup final in 22 years. These 2 results collectively position season 2013-2014 as one of the best seasons ever of Sunderland.

These results have been corroborated also by winning at Stamford Bridge, breaking Mourinho's unbeaten home record, and winning at Old Trafford for the first time in 40 years.

And if you add that we spent the second least of all the clubs in the Premier League, which is a fact that you cannot avoid considering, it has been a very satisfying season.

As for negative experiences, we can say that in England there is a natural distrust of the role of sporting director, since conceptually it''s not yet an established position in the clubs. It's quite a mixed role, that embraces some tasks that in England in fact belong to the Chief Executive, the Manager, the board, and the Technical Director.
In fact You can count the number of sport directors in Premier League in one hand.

On the main differences between Serie A and Premier League

Sportingly speaking, the Premier League really is another world to Serie A.

From the technical point of view, it is significantly faster, more intense, stronger physically. The Premier League has world class players who can change the game any time, so the game is left more to individuality than tactics. From the organizational point of view there is no comparison: the stadiums are beautiful, safe, comfortable and always full even in the Championship. The facilities are at a top level, not just in the biggest clubs.

The main difference is especially noticeable by observing the public participation at the average clubs. In Italy you may get 10,000, where as we were often 40,000 at Sunderland.

There's a massive difference also in the TV rights contract, where the monies are split more properly between the clubs since they also introduce a meritocratic concept, allowing to have a more competitive League respect to our Serie A. This is because the English FA doesn't make sons and stepsons like here in Italy.

On the differences between young Italian players and young English ones

Bottom line it comes down to a different mentality, which changes radically the approach towards youngsters. "Good enough, old enough" is the benchmark.

If the young players have the quality the managers play them, they don't hide like ours behind tactical reasons, which are just a bunch of excuses. Truth is that British managers have much more courage than Italian ones; Liverpool plays Flanagan, Sterling, Sturridge which are just above 20, United were playing Rooney and Ronaldo when they were 18 and 19.

England has won the Euro Under 17, our players are far behind.

On the Italian players he brought to Sunderland

Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini were awarded the best player and the best young player of the season at Sunderland, so what more can I say?

Vito was very instrumental in many important games, such as Everton and the cup semi-final, and he still has room to improve.

Borini is a top level player, we knew that Sunderland was going to be just a pit-stop for him.

Giaccherini turned in a good season, with 5 goals and 5 assists, but he perhaps found it too different physically from Serie A. Vito and Fabio had one advantage: they were homegrown players, didn't need to acclimatise. This year, with a Premier League season behind him, he should be better.

Andrea had a difficult season, but he came to do what he had to do: the back-up to Colback, who Paolo saw as starting left back. And he was important in couple of games which turned round our season like Newcastle home and Cardiff away.

On Connor Wickham

Connor Wickham is a player of incredible potential. He is Ibrahimovic-esque: very good technically, imposing physical stature, strength and a turn of pace. He still needs the nastiness to perform at a high level consistently. He needs to give continuity to his performances. But he is 21 years old and had a splendid end to the season, not only with his goals but his spirit of sacrifice. If he will be able to fill this gap, Connor is destined to be the England centre forward for the next ten years.

On Leyton: broker of the deal

I was introduced to Francesco Becchetti by my dear friend Gian Paolo Montali (ex managing director of Juventus and Roma) who worked formerly with him in volleyball. We were first interested in Reading and Birmingham, but then we decided to change course and go to Leyton for 2 reasons: no debt and London club. London is a different kind of stage. I wish now Francesco the best in his new adventure.