He was a polarising character when he played, and nothing has changed since Gennaro Gattuso hung up his boots.
The Napoli coach has been suffering from ill health recently with Ocular Myasthenia, which has made an eyelid droop, and it has prompted him to suggest that he wanted to die on the pitch.
“I admit I’ve not been myself for the last 12 days either. I want to make an appeal to all those, especially kids, who look in the mirror and see something that looks odd or not quite right: life is beautiful. Embrace it all,” he said to Sky Sport Italy, cited by the Daily Mail.
“The lads suffered too seeing me like this, I know that, but I’m alive. I’ve had myasthenia for 10 years, this is the third time it has flared up this badly, but it’ll pass and my eye will return to normal.
“It’s not just that it looks bad, this condition makes you feel really exhausted, plus seeing double 24 hours a day really takes it out of you.
“However, this is my life and there are worse things. I know some out there already assume I’ve got a month left to live, but I can assure you, it’s fine.
“When I eventually die, I want to go where I lived, on a football pitch.”
It’s quite the statement from the no-nonsense hard man, and it’s difficult to decipher if his words are a cry for help, or something for his players to use as motivation.
Either way it will have grabbed everyone’s attention.
The Partnopei are currently fifth in the Serie A table, nine points behind leaders, AC Milan, Gattuso’s former club, but with a game in hand.
It’s often in adversity that teams or individuals can produce their best work, and to know that their manager has been suffering for the last few weeks should galvanise the Napoli players over the festive fixtures at least.