Maurizio Sarri has praised Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri ahead of this weekend, lauding him as one of his managerial inspirations.

The Italian coach is widely regarded as a trailblazer for coaches in his home country, and compatriot Sarri remembers following Ranieri’s teachings when he began his coaching career.

As reported by Mirror Online, Sarri said of his inspiration:

Of course, he was an inspiration. I went to speak to him when he was the coach of Fiorentina, over 20 years ago maybe, and often to see training.

I lived very near to Florence, very near to the stadium. I was a coach, maybe in Serie D. It was easy for me, because I was the coach of a little team near to Florence — Antella in the south part of Florence, very close to the training ground of Fiorentina.

Now both in the top flight, Sarri has explained how Ranieri came to visit Chelsea’s training, which goes to show how successful Sarri has been in his coaching career. He continued:

I spoke with him for three days around a month or so ago. He came to Cobham to see two, three training sessions. He wanted to speak with me, with Gianfranco Zola (who played for Ranieri at Napoli).

But I saw his training 20 years ago.

Talking about what he expects from Ranieri’s Fulham, Sarri said:

Usually a team of Claudio’s is really very solid. They usually defend very well, sometimes low, but very well.

Usually he has a team dangerous at counter-­attacks, like in Leicester, but not only in Leicester.