Gennaro Gattuso has expressed gratitude to his Napoli players for their “extraordinary” dedication after they drew with Inter to reach the Coppa Italia final.
Belgian forward Dries Mertens became the Serie A club’s outright all-time leading goalscorer, cancelling out Christian Eriksen’s opener in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Stadio San Paolo.
The result was enough to send Napoli through to the final against Juventus thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win in the semi-final.
Gattuso’s sister Francesca died aged 37 earlier this month and the Napoli coach dedicated his side’s progression to her, while hailing his players.
“I dedicate this result to my sister and my family,” he said, via the club’s website.
“The guys were extraordinary for the dedication they put on the pitch. I thank them because they played for me and they were close.
“I have a team that has great quality, but there was [a will] to suffer because not all the mechanisms went in the right direction. After the first very naive goal conceded it was not easy to go back up.
“We showed character and I have to say that in terms of intensity we started from where we left off. We went through a very hard period, it wasn’t even easy to train for the health emergency.”
Gattuso was pleased with the way his side performed after the Belgian’s 41st-minute strike.
“After Mertens’ goal we had a sort of liberation and we expressed ourselves better,” he said.
“The boys are giving everything both in terms of commitment and availability. Now we will play the final with our weapons. If we continue on this path we can take great satisfaction from ourselves.”
Napoli will face Juventus in the final in Rome on Wednesday and while Italian football has now restarted, Gattuso stressed the tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic will never be forgotten.
‘We lost thousands of people. The world has changed,” he said.
“Even coming to the stadium with masks and sitting far away from people in the street – all of it is strange but none of it compares to the devastation of losing so many people”