Mikel Arteta has said the rise of his opposite number at Dundalk, Filippo Giovagnoli, is a 'great story' that should give encouragement to coaches everywhere, writes Daniel McDonnell.
The Arsenal manager will welcome Giovagnoli's side to the Emirates Stadium tonight for a Europa League group stage encounter that brings together two clubs that operate at very different levels.
Giovagnoli's story has captured the imagination of Arteta with the Spaniard saying today that he had done his research on the Italian and learned that the 49-year-old hadn't managed at senior level before leaving his academy job in New York to take over the League of Ireland champions in August - a shock appointment that has now brought the rookie into elite territory in Europe.
"I think it's a great story," said Arteta, ahead of Arsenal's first ever competitive meeting with a League of Ireland side.
"Linking different backgrounds and different countries into that history is a good one to hear.
"I read a very long interview of his because I wanted to know who he is, what he is trying to do and what he is trying to express to his players and this is how I found out about what happened (his back story).
"Straight away, he said that he could feel that the players believed in what they were doing which is everything that a coach wants. I think they have created a really good chemistry. It's big merit to them for the work they are doing."
Arteta said he will give full respect to their opponents tomorrow, with Irish members of the Arsenal staff, including his lead strength and conditioning coach Barry Solan (a Mayo native) giving him a heads up on what he might expect.
"I've been told a lot of positive things about them," said Arteta."