ACF Fiorentina Academy Coach Interview

ACF Fiorentina Academy Coach Interview
Interview with Author and Academy Coach;
Mirko Mazzantini + 5 Sample Practices Below

Dear Fellow Coach,

Mirko Mazzantini is the co-author of many leading coaching books and DVDs which make up the 'Soccer Italian Style collection'.

The unique Soccer Italian Style training program has been extremely successful and produces high level technical players that have represented the Italian national team at various levels.

In this interview Mirko talks about Soccer Italian Style and his coaching experiences during his 14 years as a full time academy coach at Empoli FC and Fiorentina.

Interview with Fiorentina Academy Coach

Mirko Mazzantini

1. How important was it to coach all different age groups during your time at Empoli FC?

I worked as an academy coach at Empoli FC for 10 years. Although it is not as famous as others, it is one of the leading academies in Italy and is extremely successful. I learned so much there and improved as a coach and all this enabled me to be in the position I am today, as the Fiorentina U16 Head Coach.

During my time at Empoli, I was the head coach for various different age groups including U12, U14 and U16. I have also worked with U5-8s in other coaching schools. All these different experiences have allowed me to increase my understanding of coaching football and reflect on many different aspects in the development of a player.

2. What are the fundamental techniques a player must learn in the early years of development and how important is repetition?

In the early years of development, coaches need to focus on technical work with a few main objectives. These include mastering control of the ball, dribbling the ball, an introduction to feints/turns and shooting (ball striking with targets/goals to increase fun).

With these age groups it is really important to combine work and fun. Training has to be fun and educational at the same time.

Training sessions for young players should be constantly changing. Players need to come to the pitch without knowing what they will be doing next and happy to find new games and practices all the time.

However, in our philosophy we do keep 15-20% of the training session consistent where the players work on the most important technical fundamentals using the same 8-10 ball mastery techniques, turns and moves to beat. This repetition in every training session is very innovative and we call them the TECHNICAL and TACTICAL BLOCK (from the Youth Academy Training Program U5-8 Book). In our opinion this training method is very important to the development of young players.

3. At what age do you start to implement tactical training into your sessions?

Tactical training is divided into individual tactics, positional play and collective tactics. The first concepts of individual tactics can be introduced from the U13 category in my experience.

For the U14 and U15 age groups, the concepts of individual tactics such as marking, creating space and checking away from a marker etc. take priority and you can begin to introduce the concepts of positional play and collective tactics. These 2 aspects become extremely important from the U16 level onwards.

4. You won the U15 Italian Academy championship in your first season at Fiorentina in 2011, how did you implement your methods so quickly?

In that fantastic first season with the Fiorentina U15 team, we won the league title and I was the assistant coach. It was the first title for Fiorentina in the U15 category and my good friend Mr Guidi was the head coach who I also worked with for a few seasons at Empoli.

The work of that fantastic winning season was really dense, with a specific focus on the technical aspects and tactics of each individual player. The dedication and expertise of our team enabled us to split the group and to work in a truly focused way for all aspects of training. In the end, everyone’s hard work produced the final result of winning the national championship.

I am now the Head Coach of the U16 team and I fully expect more and more success in the future at this great club which produces great players.

5. Is it very difficult to compete against European powerhouses such as Juventus, Milan and Inter? And what is special about your training program which makes you able to beat these sides?

First of all I want to clarify that, at the professional level in Serie A, Fiorentina are performing very well and have nothing to envy these teams for. The youth sector can absolutely say the same thing. Fiorentina have top professionals at every level of coaching. Thanks to this, the quality of the teams is very high and therefore for us coaches, work is definitely easier.

6. What is Soccer Italian Style and what is the philosophy behind it?

Soccer Italian Style was born from the great desire Simone and myself had to widen our knowledge of football and at the same time we wanted to bring our philosophy to all who would be interested. There are two words which form the basis of and sustain Soccer Italian Style: ‘Passion and Professionalism'.

7. How important is it for you to share your knowledge to coaches across the world?

For me, this aspect is a matter of great satisfaction. We have regular contact with many coaches we have met during our many trips abroad that ask us for advice and tips. This enables us to transfer our passion for this sport and to pass on our expertise. We are always available to answer questions from any coach anywhere in the world because we love to share our knowledge.

I have learnt much from my personal experiences when traveling to countries where football is not necessarily the main sport. These experiences have profoundly changed my ideas and as a result my work methods.

8. Can your books and DVDs be helpful for any coach at all levels?

Absolutely! Our range of products can be used by any coach at any level.

I consider myself living proof that people should always continue to learn. Every time I see a new product that I consider interesting, I love to read/watch it to see other coaching methods and expand my football knowledge. This happens often on because the quality of the products is very high and I am one of the first to buy them.

It sounds like a cliché, but I really think that anyone who does not study, who does not learn from theirs and other’s experiences, is destined to not succeed.

Book and DVD Samples
(7 Reviews)
Two Full Season Academy Training Programs U9-15 - 88 Sessions (440 Practices) from Italian Serie 'A' Coaches; Academies like AFC Fiorentina and the successful Empoli FC.
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(9 Reviews)
Learn a New Proven Methodology how to coach U5-8 years. "Complete Step-by-Step Training Program" with 120 practices organised into 24 ready-made sessions. DVD version also available.
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(14 Reviews)
Italian Academy Training Sessions for U11-19 - Contains 24 complete sessions detailing over 160 practices and progressions as used in the academies of the Serie ‘A’.
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(20 Reviews)
Ball Control - This teaching method has been developed in the youth and academy technical skills training programs of the Italian Serie 'A'. It has been very successful in team development producing players with exceptional technical skills.
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(7 Reviews)
Individual Defending Tactics - 40 technical exercises and game situations. The primary objective to develop the tactical awareness and abilities of the defenders.
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Meet the 'Soccer Italian Style' Coaches
Mirko Mazzantini

Mirko Mazzantini

Mirko Mazzantini coached at Empoli FC for 10 years, working with all the main age groups at academy level. In 2010 he was recruited by AFC Fiorentina to work with the U14/U15 Academy teams.

During the 2010/11 season Mirko won the U15 Italian Academy Serie ‘A’ championship.

In 2011/12 Mirko was the Assistant of the Fiorentina Reserve team during pre-season and he was the coach of the ACF Fiorentina U14 team who won the Academy Serie ‘A’ championship and some international tournaments. Read more

  • ACF Fiorentina U16 Academy Coach
  • UEFA 'B' coaching licence
Simone Bombardieri

Simone Bombardieri

Simone Bombardieri played for Empoli FC for 5 years. He then started his career as a coach for the club 15 years ago at the age of 22, where he has been coaching various academy age groups from U9-U14.

In the 2011/12 season, Simone was the coach of the Empoli FC U14 team who reached the final of the Nick Cup International Tournament, where they lost in extra time against Inter Milan. They also finished eighth in the Academy Serie ‘A’ championship.

Simone is currently the Empoli FC U15 coach for the 2013/14 season. Read more

  • Empoli FC U15 Academy Coach
  • UEFA 'B' coaching licence
Best Wishes,

Coach George
Director of Coaching
In case of any inquiry, email

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US: +1 305 767 4443
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