Brighton and Hove Albion have appointed Roberto De Zerbi as the club’s new head coach on a four-year contract, subject to the granting of a work permit.
The 43-year-old Italian agreed final contractual terms with the club late this afternoon (Sunday 18 September), having met Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and David Weir in London earlier this week.
He flew into Sussex for the first time on Friday night and watched a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Amex on yesterday afternoon.
Club chairman Tony Bloom said: “I am absolutely thrilled Roberto has agreed to become our new head coach. Roberto’s teams play an exciting and courageous brand of football and I am confident his style and tactical approach will suit our existing squad superbly.”
Technical director David Weir said: “Roberto has shown his undoubted ability with his work in Italy and Ukraine and what he achieved at Sassuolo certainly stands out.
“In his short spell with Shakhtar he enjoyed further success, leading the club to cup success and topping the Ukrainian league before the war brought an abrupt halt to his time there.
“We are delighted to welcome Roberto and we look forward to introducing him to our squad as well as providing all the support he needs to introduce his coaching philosophy and help the players continue their brilliant start to the season.”
Deputy chairman and chief executive Paul Barber said: “We looked at a range of excellent candidates but Roberto was our number one choice from the start and the only person we spoke to.
“It’s no secret our chairman is constantly monitoring potential coaches, both here in our domestic leagues, throughout Europe and across the world as part of our succession planning work.
“We feel Roberto is the ideal cultural and technical fit for Brighton and Hove Albion and the right person to continue the club’s progress and work with this outstanding group of players.”
Roberto cut his teeth in coaching in the Italian lower leagues, with Darfo Boario and Foggia. Spells in Serie A with Palermo and Benevento followed, before he became coach of Sassuolo, where his attacking style and possession-based approach really caught the eye.
He led the small Emilian club to consecutive eighth-place finishes in Serie A, before accepting an offer to join Shakhtar Donetsk. His time in Ukraine was cut short by the Russian invasion, but not before he’d led the club to the Ukrainian Super Cup, and he left with the club top of the first division.
Once the necessary work permit is processed, De Zerbi will be Albion’s first Italian head coach. Contracts with his coaching team have also been agreed, subject to work permits, with the intention that the group will be in place for Albion’s match at Anfield against Liverpool on Saturday week (1 October).
As a mark of respect to the Queen, the club has delayed De Zerbi’s formal introduction to the media until Tuesday afternoon.
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