18 June 2016

Fabio Capello - leading football manager

Veteran Champions League winner with five Serie A titles 

Photo of Fabio Capello
Fabio Capello
Fabio Capello, one of European club football's most successful managers, celebrates his 70th birthday today.

The winner of five Serie A titles as a coach and four as a player, plus two La Liga titles as manager of Real Madrid, and the Champions League with AC Milan, Capello was born in San Canzian d'Isonzo, close to the border of Italy and Slovenia, on this day in 1946.

At the time, San Canzian d'Isonzo was in an area occupied by Allied forces after the end of the Second World War.

His uncle, Mario Tortul, who was from the same village near Trieste, had been a professional footballer, playing in Serie A with Sampdoria, Triestina and Padova and making one appearance for the Italian national team.

Capello began his playing career at the Ferrara-based SPAL club and went on to represent Roma, Juventus and AC Milan.  A midfielder with an eye for goal, he was a Serie A champion three times with Juventus and once with Milan, also winning the Coppa Italia with Roma and Milan.

He represented Italy 32 times, playing at the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany.  He regards scoring the only goal against England in 1973 as Italy won at Wembley for the first time in their history as the highlight of his international career.

He would later return to England to coach the national team, leading them to the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.

After his retirement as a player, Capello coached Milan's youth teams, bringing through the likes of Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta.  He began to work with the senior side in 1987 as assistant to the Swede Nils Liedholm and took over as temporary head coach for the last six games of the 1986-87 season when Liedholm left.

He was passed over in favour of Arrigo Sacchi when Milan appointed their next permanent head coach and succeeded Sacchi in 1991, inheriting a team that had been double European Cup winners under Sacchi but taking them to a new level of excellence.

Photo of Fabio Capello
Fabio Capello during his second spell as Real Madrid boss
Milan won four Serie A titles in five years, setting an Italian League record by remaining unbeaten for 58 matches between May 1991 and March 1993, which included the whole of the 1991-92 season.

At times his squad included stars from all around the world, including Maldini, the Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, the Montenegrin Dejan Savicevic, Croatia's Zvonimir Boban, the former Torino winger Gianluigi Lentini, for whom he paid a then world record fee of £15 million, the Frenchman Marcel Desailly and the Dane Brian Laudrup.

Milan's 4-0 defeat of Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final with goals from Daniele Massaro (two), Savicevic and Desailly is regarded as one of the greatest performances in the history of European competition.  Milan were also twice beaten finalists under Capello

His reputation firmly established, Capello went on to coach Real Madrid twice, winning Spain's La Liga title in 1996-97 and again a decade later.  In between, he led Roma to the Serie A championship in 2000-01 and would have two more Serie A titles on his CV had his 2004-05 and 2005-06 triumphs with Juventus not been declared null and void because of the club's links to a match-fixing scandal, which prompted Capello to resign.

He achieved a personal ambition to manage one of football's major national teams when he was appointed as England head coach in December 2007 but his record thus far in international football has been unimpressive alongside his club career.

England qualified for the World Cup finals in 2010 under Capello but performed poorly in South Africa and although he led them through a successful qualification campaign for the 2012 European Championship, Capello resigned before the finals after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy against his wishes.

He subsequently coached Russia but was sacked in July 2015 after three years in charge, a period that encompassed more disappointment at a World Cup finals when Russia were knocked out at the group stage in 2014.  He has not worked since and claims he turned down an offer to succeed Antonio Conte as Italy's head coach.

Away from football, Capello is a collector of fine art and has acquired a collection of paintings valued at around £10 million.  SA devout Catholic, he prays twice a day and has been married for 40 years to his wife Laura, whom he met on a bus as a teenager.  They have two sons, Pier Filippo and Eduardo.

Travel tip:

Gorizia, about 25 kilometres from San Canzian d'Isonzo, is a fascinating town that straddles the border of Italy and Slovenia. It was the subject of a territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia at the end of the Second World War and when boundaries were drawn up in 1947 it was agreed that Gorizia would remain Italian and a new town of Nova Gorica would be built on the Yugoslav side. The town is notable for a fine castle, parts of which date back to the 13th century.

Photo of a square in Trieste
Trieste's town hall is on the imposing Piazza Unità, which is
the largest seafront square in Italy
Travel tip:

Trieste, once the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian empire, has a diverse culture that recognises its multi-ethnic population, which comprises mainly Italians and Slovenians but also a significant number of Serbians, Croatians and Romanians. Its main sights include the 15th century Castel San Giusto and the majestic Piazza Unità d'Italia, the largest seafront square in Europe.

More reading:

Arrigo Sacchi - AC Milan manager's tactics revolutionised Italian football

Gianluigi Lentini: the world's most expensive footballer

The founding of Internazionale

(First photo of Fabio Capello by soccer.run CC BY-SA 3.0) 
(Photo of Trieste town hall by Twice25 and Rinina25 CC BY-SA 2.5)


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