Gennaro Gattuso has denied he is racist, sexist or anti-gay following Tottenham Hotspur's decision to pull out of negotiations over the manager's job after past comments resurfaced.
Sources told ESPN that Tottenham backed out of negotiations with Gattuso following a fan backlash online due to controversial comments he had previously made and the hashtag #NoToGattuso was trended on Twitter in the UK.
Gattuso was also involved in a touchline spat with Joe Jordan while at AC Milan in a Champions League clash in 2011 and the ex-Napoli manager said he believes that is more likely the reason the deal fell through.
"I struggle to believe that was the reason the move to Tottenham didn't happen," Gattuso told La Repubblica of his controversial past comments. "More likely, the image of my argument with Joe Jordan, their then assistant manager, still remains for their fans.
"I am certainly not racist, nor sexist nor homophobic: previous statements of mine have been misrepresented. Why don't you ask my ex-teammates and players I have managed about my relationship with them?
"I have been called terrone [a typical insult aimed at people from the south of Italy] at every stadium, as a racist I wouldn't be very credible.
"Keyboard warriors are very dangerous and seriously undervalued. I am a public figure and have the strength to react to slander, but not everyone can put up with it. There are those who, out of weakness, may throw themselves out of a window."
The online campaign by Tottenham fans was in reference to comments made about same-sex marriage in 2008 and also for derogatory remarks about women's football. He also attempted to downplay racist abuse received by then Milan teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng in the Italian town of Busto Arsizio in 2013, when he said: "There are no racists in Busto. What happened was the fault of a group of imbeciles."
Gattuso became a potential candidate for Spurs following his departure after 23 days as Fiorentina manager. Sources told ESPN that La Viola were unhappy with the "unacceptable situation" regarding Gattuso's agent, Jorge Mendes.
However Gattuso said Mendes has never had any influence over his transfer plans. He said: "I have been a manager for eight years and have never signed a Mendes client, nor had one proposed to me.
"The transfer market is not for me, but for directors. I am an ambitious manager and want top and functional players for the team, regardless of who their agent is."