Gennaro Gattuso insists he is neither racist nor sexist as he hit out at an online campaign against him during talks to become Tottenham manager.
Spurs turned their attention to Gattuso last month following the breakdown of Paulo Fonseca’s move to the north London club.
However, that move also broke down just 24 hours later after supporters launched a protest against the Italian, highlighting controversial comments he had previously made about same-sex marriage and women in football.
What did Gattuso say?
In an interview with La Repubblica, Gattuso insisted that his previous comments were misinterpreted.
He also believes Tottenham fans have developed a negative opinion of him based on an incident during a Champions League tie against Milan in 2011, when Gattuso got involved in a touchline fight with then Spurs assistant Joe Jordan.
“I find it hard to believe that this [his previous comments] was the reason, at most it may have remained in their minds the image of myself fighting with Joe Jordan in 2011,” said the 43-year-old.
“Certainly I am neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic – old statements of mine have been misrepresented.
“Why don’t you ask my former team-mates and the players I coached about my relationship with them? I can’t lose time with silly things, but my experience can teach something.”
The former Italy international believes the incident highlights the dangers of social media and the damage it can cause.
“Hate on social media is dangerous and very underrated,” he added. “I am a public figure and I have the strength to react, but not everyone can bear it.
“There are those who may throw themselves out of the window because they are weaker. It is a serious problem. Why is nobody doing something about it?
“I don’t live in the past, I have daughters who use social media, I just don’t understand exhibitionism. Why should I post a picture if I am on a boat trip with my family or at the restaurant?
“I want to tell the youths to live their life, not the ones of others.”
Gattuso denies Mendes link
Gattuso also dismissed suggestions he quit Fiorentina last month because of a dispute over transfer strategy.
He only took over Fiorentina in May but left just 23 days later, with reports claiming his agent Jorge Mendes was demanding the club target certain players.
Gattuso denies those rumours and insists Mendes is merely a friend rather than his agent, while admitting he is unable to reveal the real reasons behind his departure because of a confidentiality agreement.
“He [Mendes] is a friend. He has great experience and gives me advice for my career. I always respect roles: the transfer market is not up to me, but to directors,” Gattuso said.
“I am an ambitious coach and I want strong and functional players for the team, regardless of who their agent is.”