CELTIC boss Ronny Deila once used his holidays to learn from Roberto Mancini but hopes to master the Inter Milan manager in their Europa League clash on Thursday night.
When the Italian guided Manchester City to the Premier League title in 2011/12, one of his visitors was Deila, then boss of Norwegian side Stromsgodset where he was building a reputation that landed him the Parkhead post last summer.
The Hoops boss has not spoken to Mancini since his tutorial but is looking forward to meeting him on level terms in the first leg of their last-32 tie.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference at Celtic Park, Deila said: “We always had good co-operation with Manchester City through my old club. We talked together all the time.
“I used my holiday to go to Manchester to follow what they were doing.
“I was there to watch his training and see how they do things at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“He is a very good organiser. I spoke to a lot of people around him as well and he is a top manager and it was great to get a chance to see how he works.
“I never believed that I would meet him [Mancini] in a European tie. I didn’t think it would come around so quickly.
“But you never know in life. That is the thing, you have to work all the time to improve yourself and be very curious.
“That is why I have always travelled around to see the best managers in the world and see what they are doing and now we are facing each other. It is a good feeling.”
Inter have struggled for most of the season but two successive wins have steered them back on track and into 10th place in Serie A.
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Conversely, the Parkhead side, after a sticky start to their season when they passed up on two chances to qualify for the Champions League, have won their last eight games and are top of the Scottish Premiership and on course for the domestic treble.
However, Deila conceded he was probably facing the biggest challenge he has had as Celtic manager and explained why he believes his side are the underdogs
“Just look at the squad Inter have,” said the Norwegian. “It’s totally different to what we have.
“Inter is a big club in the history of European football. Celtic have been big as well but it’s a different league and a different level they play at normally.
“We have everything to win. We go in with lots of confidence.
“If we get a good result, we’ll put a lot of pressure on them when we play them away from home.”
Deila, though, appreciated the backing he got from Jim Craig, who played in the Celtic team which famously won the European Cup in 1967 by beating Inter 2-1 in Lisbon.
The former full-back claimed the Hoops could go all the way in the Europa League this season.
“I’m happy people believe in us,” said Deila. “Everything is possible in football, but we have to be realistic too.
“We’re not favourites to win the Europa League. It is a cup, everything can happen.
“We will go with a lot of motivation and energy and hope to show everything we can and we’ll see where we go.”
Deila has yet to decide if Kris Commons will feature in the match after a hamstring problem.