Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has admitted he is "lucky" to find himself directly facing off against Jose Mourinho on Saturday as he labelled the Manchester United manager as one of the best in the world.
Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge in the opposition dugout with less hostility than his previous visits as Sarri has nothing but admiration and praise for the Portuguese boss - unlike his predecessor Antonio Conte, who clashed with the United manager on numerous occasions.
“Results speak for him so, at the moment, he is better than me for sure,” Sarri said, via the Guardian.
“I hope to improve myself in the future, but I need to win [trophies] if I want to compare myself to him. You are talking about one of the best coaches in the world, and I’m not at the moment one of the best. I need to win.
“I have won Serie B, Serie C, Serie D in Italy, like the Championship, League One and League Two here in England. But now I need to win at this level.
"Mourinho won in the past but will be able to win also in the future because he is really one of the best. Maybe the best. I am lucky to be here because it’s very difficult to start in a non-professional team, and to finish in one of the most important clubs in the world. So you need to be lucky.”
Sarri's life in football management has seen him transition from a former banker into a respected and revered manager following his rise through the Italian ranks before he landed in the Premier League.
On his unique journey, he added: “I was in the right place in the right moment. First of all, to arrive in Empoli [in 2012], where I had a very young team, but the players were very good.
"We had Daniele Rugani, who was 19. Elseid Hysaj, who was 19. We had Riccardo Saponara, who was 20 and Lorenzo Tonelli, who was 21. Nobody knew them at that moment, but they were very good and we won Serie B. So I was lucky.
“When Mourinho was at Internazionale and my target, in that period, was just to be a professional coach, I probably would not have believed this day would come. To have thought that would have been incredible.
"Without determination, it’s impossible to arrive here from non-league. So, while my character is different to Mourinho’s, maybe my level of determination is the same. But the Special One is Mourinho.”