At 75, Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu is returning to the UEFA Champions League as coach of Dynamo Kiev. His first assignment will be to take on the Juventus team coached by Andrea Pirlo, who made his debut with Lucescu at the age of 16 25 years ago.
A Champions League coach with Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Shakhtar Donetsk before coming to Dinamo, he told UEFA.com what motivates him.
About Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo
What was it like when you were young in Brescia? Incredibly mature. Mature as it is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a game and I drove home with him in the car. We had two hours of talk time. I realized that he was a very solid man. Besides being a creative actor, he was someone who organized everything, which is another skill. This has helped him a lot to be the coach of a great team like Juventus that he is today. Did he call me maestro? This makes me proud. I must thank him! I hope he has a great career [as a coach].
On his new adventure with Dynamo Kyiv[Since the last of the Dynamo group stage], the squad has lost many valuable players and international players. They began to give these places to young players. This is a very young squad and so my goal is to build this team, then get the team to play and finally get results. It is not possible to start [with a team] in football and get results immediately. There are no miracles in football.
My expectation from my players is to go out on the field believing in their abilities, to play without fear and without thinking about the great players in front of them. Many are young: [Illia] Zabarnyi 18, [Vitaliy] Mykolenko 21, [Vladyslav] Supryaha 20, [Viktor] Tsygankov, [Heorhii] Tsitaishvili, [Mykola] Shaparenko. They need to play at this level to grow. I'm here to help them, that's all.
On preparing his players to face Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
I encountered them many times, but my players did not see it. They will meet them soon. I have to explain how they are. Messi is a short player who is exceptional in tight spaces because of his momentum, his confidence, his dribbling and all that. Ronaldo is a different player because he likes to score so many goals that he needs bigger fields. Everyone needs your help, your teammates' help.
Messi can do many things on his own. Ronaldo can work alone in the penalty area or 20 meters away from the field, but he tries to take advantage of the space created by others and hits. That's it: they're different, but they're both really strong players.
On staying motivated
I find motivation in my passion for football, that's for sure. I tried to quit last year because I've been working nonstop for 50 years. I never took paid leave like other coaches. I wanted to work I tried to quit last year but it was impossible. I wanted to come back. I told myself that I have a lot to offer football, especially young players. So I'm back and I feel good to be back at work.
This passion continues to push you forward. I try to understand other people. And also to respect and understand the culture of the country you come from, because even when it comes to football there are cultural differences between countries. As my 'round the world' manager, you do things this way because you want to come face to face with different cultures, different people, different histories, different geographies, everything. You enjoy everything that matters: learning, studying, going to museums. Wherever you go, it's not just football that matters.
in the Champions League
It's a competition I'm used to! I participated in more than 130 games. I'm not just talking about the group stage, but teams also have to play in the qualifiers: one round, two rounds, three rounds.
The Champions League anthem is like your national anthem. That is, you listen to him with the same feeling and respect him immensely.