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It can be lonely – Cannavaro still adjusting ahead of new CSL season

Fabio Cannavaro says he is still building his confidence as a manager despite having led Tianjin Quanjian to the Chinese Super League.

The former Juventus and Real Madrid defender is in his third managerial job with Tianjin, who he has led from China's second tier to the lucrative CSL, which sees its 2017 season kick off this week.

Italy icon Cannavaro won the World Cup as a player, but thinks success on the touchline is a greater feeling as he continues to adapt to coaching.

"I have played plenty of matches where I thought I had left everything on the field and given a game my all, but what I have come to realise since I retired and began coaching – 90 minutes on the field do not compare to life as a manager," the 43-year-old told Sky Sports.

"I have worked to learn a whole new side of football. As manager of Tianjin Quanjian every day, every week, I have to give our players everything I have. 

"I have to know what family problems someone might be dealing with, who is shy or may not be very vocal, and who I can push.

"Now try and do that with 25 different players through a Chinese translator. So when I can't communicate with words, I join my players in training to show them what I know or how I want them to do something. I need to play with them to teach them sometimes.

"It can be lonely as a manager out there. You are on the field, yes, but you are not really on the field with them. Yet I have to share with my players my experiences and my knowledge.

"I began searching for my confidence on the pitch as a young boy. I didn't find it until I lifted our World Cup trophy and then a Ballon d'Or later that year. And now, I'm searching for my confidence again. Not as a leader on the back line, but on the sidelines."

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Despite the challenges, Cannavaro says he is relishing the learning experience and has taken tips from playing under the likes of Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello.

He continued: "Some of that knowledge comes from the best managers in the world – Lippi, [Giovanni] Trapattoni, [Cesare] Maldini, Capello. They all gave me something, which throughout my years as a player I kept in a small notebook.

"Any mistake or success, I wrote it down. And in China this past year, I keep that notebook with me. I try not to make the same mistakes.

"When I came to Tianjin Quanjian last summer, I wasn't sure what to expect. This was second-tier Chinese football. They had been on seven-match losing streak. They were eighth in the table out of 16 clubs.

"By the end of the season, we were top of the table. Promotion isn't a trophy, it is not a game-winning goal, or a game-changing tackle.

"But to bring success out of your team and players and to lead them to promotion? That truly makes you happy for the rest of your life."