Soon Davide Ancelotti will recite a list of names as if he is reading from a football’s Who’s Who, then discuss dinner table disagreements with his father.
First, though, the son of — and assistant to — Everton manager Carlo must explain something.
It is only natural he would seek to emulate his dad, who was a princely midfielder for Roma and AC Milan in his pomp, but a significant barrier prevented him from following in those footsteps.
Davide Ancelotti (right) has played a key coaching role behind father Carlo’s managerial glory
Ancelotti junior is currently the youngest assistant manager in the Premier League at Everton
‘We lived a lot of good emotions and his job gave a lot of happiness to the family,’ says Davide. ‘I wanted to do this since I was a kid. Everyone that has passion wants to be a footballer but…’ There is a short pause.
‘I didn’t have a lot of talent,’ he continues with a self-deprecating smile. ‘This was the first problem.
‘I grew up in dressing rooms, in this environment. I had the opportunity to stay around my idols. So I decided to study. I wanted to become a manager.’
Davide, at 30, is the youngest assistant in the Premier League. He shares the role with Duncan Ferguson and is instrumental in the sessions at Finch Farm.
Davide (right) shares his role with former Everton striker and interim boss Duncan Ferguson
Some will see his recruitment as a parent trying to help out his child, but Davide’s c.v. boasts the names of Europe’s premier clubs.
‘I studied sports science,’ he says in his first interview with a British newspaper. ‘I graduated when I was 22, then did a year with the academy of Paris Saint-Germain, as a fitness coach. We had two years in Madrid, then I went back to Italy, doing my first licence before Bayern Munich.’
Perhaps most importantly, Davide, from a young age, gained the kind of work experience that money could not buy. ‘I was really lucky,’ he says. ‘But I was shy and didn’t want to disturb the players.
‘I was not the kid who would run on the pitch to play with them. I would hide. But I had the opportunity to see from close up a lot of really big players.’
Ancelotti (right) and his father (left) helped Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) to thrive at Real Madrid
At Parma, there was Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram and Hernan Crespo. On to Juventus where Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi led the way. After Turin, there was AC Milan. ‘The biggest experience,’ he says. ‘When I was 12 to 18 years old, I grew up with so many greats — Paolo Maldini, the great captain. The last year that Maldini played for Milan (2009) was the last year my father managed Milan.
‘He would train two days a week because of his knees. You could not play with those knees — impossible. But he was able to manage himself and he was the best player in the team. Absolutely incredible. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, the perfect machine.’
Davide was happy to stay in the shadows at the San Siro, but he absorbed everything as Carlo propelled himself into the realms of management royalty by winning the Champions League in 2003 and 2007.
Ancelotti Snr’s work opened doors all across Europe, from Chelsea to PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli before, in a huge coup for Farhad Moshiri, Everton convinced him to take a chance on them last Christmas.
He can do no wrong in the eyes of Evertonians, who are hopeful big things will be possible in the years to come.
The Ancelottis are preparing to return to action with Everton as the Premier League resumes
This week, the esteem in which he is held only increased after it emerged he volunteered in March to take a 30 per cent pay cut. His coaching staff have done similar, with the players taking deferrals of up to 50 per cent for the next three months.
Everton are aware of their community and Davide says he has quickly learned ‘how this club is connected to its fans and to society’.
He adds: ‘What Everton have done during this time is something very special.’
Should Ancelotti oversee a win in Everton’s first game back — Sunday’s Merseyside derby — the bond between fanbase and dugout will be secure, but the 61-year-old knows one person will continue to chip away at him over dinner.
Carlo has often found the most difficult questions come from an inquisitive young interrogator when he sits down for his evening meal, and nothing has changed over the years.
‘We have this kind of discussion every day,’ Davide says with a smile. ‘The assistant is there to create doubts in the manager. I have a lot of advantages because our relationship is so close. I can say everything to him.
‘I’ve had great experiences but there is always time to improve. Everyone has their own pressures. I’ve had a lot of experience and I can help — but I know I can improve.’
Davide has done a lot of thinking during the break as to how Everton can make progress. It has been a testing period personally, as his girlfriend, Ana, has remained in Spain with their 15-month-old twins, Lucas and Leonardo.
He has spent most of his time cycling or running around Formby and regularly bumped into Liverpool midfielder Fabinho during the early days of lockdown.
There was relief, then, when clubs were allowed to return to training. It asked new questions of the coaching staff, to come up with engaging sessions while observing social distancing, but — like the task of restoring Everton to former glories — it was something he embraced.
‘I’ve watched the Bundesliga and football is different now,’ he says. ‘We need to adapt.’
Eventually, the Ancelottis need to be winners at Everton. ‘There is a really exciting atmosphere around the club,’ Davide says.
‘We can feel this, working there. It is a special club, connected to the people. It is rare to have this sense of belonging.’