Fabrizio Ravanelli's 'heart is in Middlesbrough' as he speaks again of desire to manage club
The Italian was one of the poster boys of some of the most exciting years in the Teesside club's history, under then-manager Bryan Robson.
It was a sign of Boro's ambitions at the time that they were able to buy the £7m Italian international from Juventus shortly after scoring in their European Cup final win over Ajax. In a colourful season on Teesside, he scored 31 goals in all competitions, including a hat-trick against Liverpool on his debut.
After retiring from playing in 2005, he went on to coach Juve's youth team, before spells as manager of Ajaccio and Arsenal Kyiv.
Despite at times criticising the club in the Italian media whilst still there, has said before he would like to manage the Boro, and returned to the topic in a question-and-answer session on The Athletic website.
“In life, there are many surprises,” he said when asked about the prospect. “Why not? My heart is in Middlesbrough. When I arrived there, I remember the Italian flag at the Riverside, ‘Welcome Fabrizio’. They were fantastic with me.
“I would want to do the same fantastic job as a manager as I did as a player when I scored many goals. I don’t know if I could (manage) Boro. But one day, it would be the best thing if I could come back to Boro.”
Despite his goals and reaching the FA Cup final, Boro were relegated from the Premier League at the end of Ravanelli's only season, although he says it would not have happened had they started the campaign with the team that started it.
“When we built the team, we had a lot of problems at the start of the season with the defenders,” he argued. “We let in a lot of goals. With myself, Nick Barmby, Craig Hignett, Juninho, Emerson. We had good quality to score goals. The problem was about the defenders.
“Every shot on the goal was a goal.
“We bought (central defender) Gianluca Festa from Inter Milan and he made it better but we needed a goalkeeper. We had a lot of problems. Then Mark Schwarzer arrived and he stayed for a long time in goal, and he was excellent.
“At the start of the season, we did not have a good idea to build a strong team. If we started the season with the team that finished the league, we would have stayed up, for sure.”
Meanwhile the current Boro squad, and manager Jonathan Woodgate, have been contacting the club’s elderly and vulnerable supporters during the coronavirus lockdown.
Captain George Friend, Rudy Gestede, Ashley Fletcher, Britt Assomablonga, Aynsley Pears, George Saville, Daniel Ayala and Woodgate have been telephoning fans to surprise them with a chat.
“We have a fantastic community here, and that togetherness will see us fight this virus,” said Friend.
“We’re all here for each other, and it’s been good to pick up the phone and speak to people and hopefully brighten up their day.”