Roberto De Zerbi: Pep Guardiola inspired him to become a coach say Brighton’s Boss.

It was pure and undiluted football entertainment at its peak yesterday when Brighton played host to the newly crown champions Manchester City. Julio Enciso’s stunning goal secured a 1-1 draw for Brighton against champions Man City; Pep Guardiola praised Roberto De Zerbi before the game and the Seagulls boss responded after full-time at the Amex Stadium; “I became a coach because of him,” he told newsmen.

Roberto De Zerbi said Pep Guardiola is “still No 1” and bare the Manchester City boss inspired him to become a coach, after Brighton held the champions to a 1-1 draw.

Guardiola bestowed praises on his opposite number in the build-up to the game at the Amex Stadium, describing the 43-year-old Italian, who has guided Brighton into next year’s Europa League, as “one of the most influential managers” of the last 20 years.

De Zerbi responded after the pair had gone head to head on the south coast, where Julio Enciso’s stunning goal cancelled out Phil Foden’s opener in a frenetic game, and said he still regards the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich as the world’s best.

“I became a coach because of him,” he said to newsmen. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but I became a coach for him because I loved his Barcelona and I studied him a lot.

“I don’t love to copy anybody, but I took [things from him] when I started to be a coach, and before, also, when I finished as a player. Pep is still No 1.”

The draw guaranteed Brighton will finish in sixth place, making this the best season in the club’s history, and De Zerbi was proud of the “bravery” his players showed in going toe to toe with Guardiola’s.

“It was very tough,” he said. “We knew to play against Man City is always tough. We played very well, we deserved to make our point – and we deserve to play in the Europa League.

“When the situation was difficult we didn’t lose our style. To press Man City man to man on every side of the pitch, I think that is courage.”

De Zerbi, who also praised Enciso’s stunning equalizer as “incredible”, admitted he did not feel a Europa League finish was possible when he took the job following Graham Potter’s departure in September.

Congratulations to Brighton on their first ever Europe place in the next season.

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