Dan Levy new head coach of Italy’s Firenze Guelfi

The Firenze Guelfi, fresh off a historic season for the club, have signed Dan Levy as their new head coach for the 2020 season.

The Guelfi reached the Italian final last year in only their fourth season in Italy’s top league and Levy takes over from Art Briles who will remain coaching in the US.

To say Levy is well traveled would be an understatement.

The 35 year old, in his 10th season coaching, will be coaching for the third time in Italy after spending part of the 2019 season as offensive coordinator for the Bolzano Giants. He had previously been inexplicably released by the Prague Black Panthers partway through 2019 when the team had a winning record in the Austrian Football League. In 2018, he guided Prague to an undefeated season in the Czech league winning the title that year. He came to Prague after leading the Belo Horizonte Sada Cruzeiro to a Brazil Bowl victory in their first year in existence. He guided the Warsaw Eagles to the Polish semifinals in 2016 and as head coach of the Ancona Dolphins the year before he led them to an 8-3 record and the Italian playoffs. That same year, he served as offensive coordinator for Alfred State College. In 2014, he mad e his first trip to Brazil, guiding the Vila Velha Tritoes to an 8-1 record and the playoffs. He spent the 2013 season in Mexico with Missao Prana and in 2012, in his second season with Norway’s Kristiansand Gladiators took them to the championship game.

Whew.

Needless to say, Levy is a highly respected member of the coaching community in countries throughout Europe and South America.

American Football International asked Levy about his return to Italy and football life in general.

AFI: How did you end up returning to Italy and the Guelfi?

Levy: It talked to last year’s head coach, Art Briles, after our game [Bolzano Giants] against Firenze. He came up to me after the game and recommended that I apply for the job as he was returning to the United States to coach. We talked a great deal about it and coaching in general. Then I spoke to the organization at the Beast Mode camp and then Edoardo Cammi, the general manager came up to me indicating they were interested in hiring me as head coach. Then a few weeks ago things started heating up and we finalized our deal this past week.

AFI: Have you been to Florence before?

Levy: That is the fascinating thing about this. This is almost like fate. When I was coaching in Brazil in 2016, I was speaking to folks from the board in Florence and I was thinking about the prospect of coaching there. I love Florence, it’s my favorite city in Italy. So this is almost like a dream come true. They have laid a great foundation here. It’s funny how things come full circle.

AFI: You are taking over a team that not only went to the playoffs for the first time but made it all the way to the Italian championship game. Expectations will be high.

Levy: Yes, and there is nothing like a challenge in football. That is something I relish.

AFI: The team relied heavily on arguably the best player in Europe in Silas Nacita. Will you have him back?

Levy: That’s a tough one. Of course we would love to have him back and we are trying to determine whether Silas is coming back. But we are taking a look at a few great players right now and have already signed Max Redfield, formerly from Notre Dame, who played in the AAF in 2019.

AFI: Have you made sure about your Italian core of players.

Levy: Our GM, Edoardo is really on top of that. We are making sure our guys are back and of course we are talking to a lot of other players. As I mentioned, we have already signed Redfield as well as Mike Pietropola (dual) from Indian University of Pennsylvania, IUP.

AFI: Is there any difference in coaching in Italy?

Levy: I think the difference personally is that this year, I know a lot more of what I am getting into. I will be doing camps for them over the next couple of months  I will see the facilities, their own field and offices.They have a great foundation for a football club. Italians get passionate about the game. And everyone is so accepting of new people and ideas. I am coming into an excellent situation.

The overarching point, as a coach you have a lot more control than you realize. You can have a real impact. Football culture is basically the same everywhere. In Italy, eight of the 10 teams think one way so if you can change the culture or approach, you can make a difference. We have a young team that does not have a rich history and they reached the final in a very short period of time.  Last year, the Firenze used unorthodox approaches and I will pick Art Briles brain about that.

AFI: Have you grown fond of any Italian food yet?

I am really looking forward to the food in Tuscany. Tuscan food is so unique and gamier.I tried pasta with wild boar and truffle sauce and loved it. Another thing I love in Italy is prosciutto, Italian dry-cured ham. I can’t stop eating it. And the pizza is so simple and so good. Each region has its own food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFI
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