Roberto De Zerbi: Brighton boss says Pep Guardiola encouraged him to become coach after signing with Man City books Europa League place | Football News

Roberto De Zerbi said Pep Guardiola is “still number 1” and revealed the Manchester City boss urged him to become manager, after Brighton held the champions 1-1.

Guardiola heaped praise on his number one in the build-up to the game at the Amex Stadium, describing the 43-year-old Italian, who leads Brighton in next year’s Europa League, as “one of the most famous managers” of the past 20 years.

De Zerbi was responding after the pair met on the south coast, where Julio Enciso’s wonder goal denied Phil Foden’s save in a lopsided game, and said he still regards the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich man as the world’s greatest.

“I became a teacher because of him,” he said Sky Sports. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but I became his coach because I like his Barcelona and I learned a lot from him.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of the match between Brighton and Manchester City

“I don’t like to take anyone, but I did [things from him] when I started to be a teacher, and before, and also, when I finished as a football player. Pep is still No 1.”

The draw ensured Brighton would finish in sixth place, making it the best season in the club’s history, and De Zerbi was proud of the “courage” the players had shown against Guardiola’s finger.

“It was very difficult,” he said. “We knew that playing against Man City is always difficult. We played very well, we had to make our point – and we have to play in the Europa League.

“When things were difficult we didn’t lose our style. To push Man City to a man on both sides of the pitch, I think that’s courage.”

De Zerbi, who also hailed Enciso’s stunning goal as “amazing”, admitted he didn’t feel a Europa League finish was possible when he took over after Graham Potter’s departure in September.

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Check out the highlights of Julio Enciso’s stunning goal for Brighton against Manchester City in their 1-1 draw.

“No, but I didn’t think about the table,” he said. “I wanted to work and analyze the team, the players, understand the new world, the new league. Then, in February, I started thinking about the goal.

“I’m lucky because I’ve got a great group of players. I’m a good coach but I don’t have players… When I need to analyze something in football, I always start with the players.”

Pep: We drank all the beer in Manchester

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his team proved why they are Premier League champions in the 1-1 draw at Brighton.

Guardiola, meanwhile, spoke to De Zerbi’s Brighton after the game and expressed his pride in his team’s performance after celebrating their Premier League win.

“A special game,” he said Sky Sports. “Congratulations to Brighton for qualifying for the Europa League.

“The game we played, after 40 hours and I think we drank all the alcohol in Manchester, showed why we are champions. I didn’t see a drop in our mentality. They were lucky, we were lucky.

“This team destroys other opponents, the way they play, and they did at times tonight, especially in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half, where we struggled. But in the second half, we changed and did well.

“It’s normal that we can lose points or struggle a little to be professional, but I didn’t see it. Now, during the week, we have to rest and recover mentally.”

Rosenior: Zerbi is very smart

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Liam Rosenior has sung the praises of Roberto De Zerbi and compared him to Pep Guardiola and legendary Italian coach Arrigo Sacchi.

Former Brighton defender and current Hull City manager Liam Rosenior was part of the Sky Sports punditry team, and was left impressed by what he saw from both sides, describing De Zerbi as “very smart” in how he changed Brighton.

“Watching the game as a young manager, the courage of both coaches, the dedication they gave to the game, the fact that they were willing to go one on one with the best player in the world, that’s courage,” he said.

“It says everything about the way De Zerbi is coaching this team. I think he is a professional.

“I know Pep said yesterday, and I will say it now, there are other coaches who come – [Arrigo] Sacchi and Milan, Pep has come and changed the game…

“What De Zerbi is doing with this Brighton team is different, something new in angering the media in the way he builds, he scored again tonight.”

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