Walter Mazzarri ([ˈvalter madˈdzarri]; born 1 October 1961) is an Italian former footballer and head coach.
After coaching several smaller Italian sides, Mazzarri took up a managerial position with Sampdoria in 2007; with the help of the attacking partnership of Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini, he led the team to qualify for the UEFA Cup in his first season, and subsequently reached the Coppa Italia final the next year. In 2009, he joined Napoli, where he implemented a 3–4–3 formation with which he later became associated. With the offensive trio of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamšík, he helped the team qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club's history in 2011; he subsequently won the Coppa Italia the following season, the club's first trophy in over 20 years, and the first since the time of club legend Diego Maradona, and led the team to the second round of the Champions League, only to be eliminated by eventual champions Chelsea. In his final season with the team, he managed a second-place finish in Serie A, the club's best league finish in over 20 years. In 2013, he moved to Internazionale, but was later sacked half-way through his second season with the club.
Mazzarri, a midfielder and a product of Fiorentina's youth system, made his professional debut in 1981 for Pescara of Serie B, and played a short Serie A stint in Cagliari the following season, before being sold to Reggiana. He had his longest period at Empoli, who won promotion to Serie A for the first time during his time with the Tuscan side. After several spells with mostly minor teams, including a two-year stint with Acireale where he was part of the team who won a historic first promotion to Serie B, and then playing in the Italian second tier in 1993–94, Mazzarri ended his playing career in 1995 with Sassari Torres.
Mazzarri started his coaching career as Renzo Ulivieri's assistant at Napoli in 1998. His first spell in charge came in 2001–02 for Sicilian Serie C2 team Acireale, where he had been a player from 1992 to 1994. Subsequently, he returned to his native Tuscany to coach Pistoiese of Serie C1 in 2002–03 and Livorno of Serie B in 2003–04, bringing the amaranto led by Cristiano Lucarelli back to Serie A. He was coach of Reggina from 2004 to 2007, leading the Calabrian side to Serie A survival in three consecutive seasons, the last obtained on the final day of the season despite an 11-point deduction.
On 31 May 2007 he was announced as new Sampdoria coach. He served as Sampdoria boss for two seasons, overseeing a considerable improvement in results, thanks to the likes of the attacking duo of Antonio Cassano, who publicly praised Mazzarri's coaching abilities, and Giampaolo Pazzini. Sampdoria's 2007–08 campaign ended in an impressive sixth place, which ensured qualification for the UEFA Cup. Mazzarri's fortunes declined slightly in 2008–09, as the blucerchiati ended their campaign in 13th place; despite this, he managed to guide his team into the Coppa Italia Final, notably defeating champions Inter 3–1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, before losing on penalties to Lazio in the final. Mazzarri left Sampdoria by mutual consent at the end of the 2008–09 season.
On 6 October 2009 he was appointed manager of Napoli, replacing Roberto Donadoni. Mazzarri inspired his new charges to finish his debut season in sixth place in Serie A, and was handed a new three-year contract at the end of the campaign. The 2010–11 season proved even more successful as, buoyed by the arrival from Palermo of prolific Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, Mazzarri's men finished third in the league and qualified directly for the group phase of the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League. Under Mazzarri, Napoli become renowned for their counter-attacking at pace, courtesy of a 3–4–3 formation in which Cavani was supported by Argentine winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and creative Slovakian star Marek Hamšík. They finished second in their Champions League group, behind Germany's Bayern Munich and ahead of Manchester City of England and Villareal of Spain, to earn a spot in the last-16. In the second round tie against another English side, Chelsea, Napoli won 3–1 at home in the first leg; they were subsequently beaten 4–1 at Stamford Bridge after extra time, being eliminated from the Champions League, while Chelsea went on to win the title. Napoli ended the season on a high-note, however, as they won the 2012 Coppa Italia Final over undefeated 2011–12 Serie A champions Juventus on 20 May; this was Juventus's only loss of the season, and Napoli's first title in over 20 years, when club legend Diego Maradona played for the club. The following season, Napoli suffered a controversial 4–2 extra-time defeat to Juventus in the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana, on 11 August, which saw two Napoli players sent off, as well as Mazzarri. Mazzarri left the Azzurri on 19 May 2013, after leading the team to a 2nd place finish and a spot in the Champions League at the end of the 2012–13 Serie A season; this was the club's best league finish in over 20 years.
Mazzarri was officially appointed as the Inter manager on 24 May 2013, after Andrea Stramaccioni was dismissed after a poor performance in the 2012–13 season. On 2 July 2014, FC Internazionale and Mazzarri agreed to a one-year extension to the current coach’s contract keeping him at the team until 30 June 2016. He was sacked by Inter after a series of disappointing results on 14 November 2014, leaving the club in ninth place. He parted with the club before the 12th matchday, whilst they were five points below their season objective of the third position.
On 21 May 2016, Watford confirmed they had reached an agreement with Mazzarri to become Head Coach from 1 July 2016 on a three-year contract. Mazzarri secured Watford's Premier League status that season, but it was announced on 17 May 2017 that his contract would be terminated at the end of his first season at the club.As of 21 May 2017
Coppa Italia Runner-up: 2008–09
Coppa Italia: 2011–12
Supercoppa Italiana Runner-up: 2012
Serie A Runner-up: 2012–13
Enzo Bearzot Award: 2012