Andrea Stramaccioni has said his rise through the ranks to become Inter Milan coach shows that anyone "can reach a big club".
Stramaccioni told Sette he had fought back from the bitter disappointment of having his playing career cut short by injury to show that someone who had not been a famous footballer could reach the pinnacle of the coaching profession.
He was a defender with Bologna when a 1995 knee injury brought a halt to his playing days, and said: "Ending my playing career due to injury was the saddest moment of my young life.
"It was as if, in a single moment, everything had been destroyed - my dreams of playing in Serie A but, above all, of playing professional football.
"I put on 15kg as I was so depressed. I was only helped out of that dark time by my family and my studies.
"My small message that I can send is that, even in Italy, a coach who was not a famous player, nor related to a star, can reach a big club. 'You made it coming from nothing' is the greatest compliment I can receive."
Stramaccioni lavished praise on Inter's 39-year-old captain Javier Zanetti, saying: "Zanetti is not human - he is beyond human.
"He's the first to arrive at training and the last to finish, then he stops to perform preventative exercises. This is the secret of his ability to play, after 20 years, as if every game were his first or his last for Inter."
And he said he and Antionio Cassano "speak the same language, that of the streets, the way you earn respect in front of your home".