Showing posts with label Fabio Capello. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fabio Capello. Show all posts

9 September 2021

Roberto Donadoni - footballer and coach

Understated midfielder who helped AC Milan win six Serie A titles

Roberto Donadoni is now a coach after a hugely successful playing career
Roberto Donadoni is now a coach after
a hugely successful playing career
The footballer and coach Roberto Donadoni, who was a key figure in an AC Milan side that dominated Italian football for the best part of a decade, was born on this day in 1963 in Cisano Bergamasco in Lombardy.

A winger or midfielder famed for his ability to create goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates, Donadoni was once described by the brilliant French attacker Michel Platini as ‘the best Italian footballer of the 1990s’.

His collection of 21 winner’s medals includes six for winning the Serie A title with AC Milan and three for the European Cup or Champions League.

He was also part of the Italian national team that reached the final of the World Cup in 1994, losing to Brazil on penalties.

Donadoni was never a prolific goalscorer: in more than 500 league and international matches, he found the net only 34 times. Yet he had exceptional technical ability and great passing skills and if tallies of ‘assists’ in matches had been recorded during his career as they are now, the role he played in Milan’s success in particular would be appreciated still more.

Since ending his career as a player, Donadoni has totted up 450 matches as a coach, taking charge at seven clubs in Italian football and one in China, as well as having a stint as head coach of the national team. Although he led the Azzurri to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, he has yet to win a trophy as a coach.

Donadoni won six Serie A titles with AC Milan
Donadoni won six Serie A
titles with AC Milan
Born within the province of Bergamo, it was natural for Donadoni to launch his professional career with Atalanta, the club based in Bergamo, the Lombardy region’s fourth largest city. He joined the club’s youth system and made his debut in Serie C at the age of 18, winning the Serie C1 title in his first season.

Two years later, in 1984, he helped Atalanta return to Serie A after an absence of five seasons, as Serie B champions. His youthful talent did not go unnoticed and in 1986 he moved to AC Milan, one of the first signings made following Silvio Berlusconi’s takeover of the club.

It was not long before he was playing in front of defenders such as Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Mauro Tassotti and behind strikers of the calibre of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and George Weah as the Milan teams coached by Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello swept all before them.

He was part of the team that Sacchi led to the 1987-88 Serie A title, Milan’s first for nine years, which went on to win the European Cup in 1989 and 1990, the first team to retain the trophy since Nottingham Forest a decade earlier.

Under Capello, who succeeded Sacchi when the latter was appointed to coach the national team, Donadoni won four scudetti - the scudetto being the shield-shaped badge worn on the shirts of the reigning champions - in the space of five seasons, as well as another European Cup, by then rebranded as the Champions League, in 1994.

Donadoni has gained respect as a coach, although he has yet to enjoy tangible success
Donadoni has gained respect as a coach, although
he has yet to enjoy tangible success
After his fifth domestic title, Donadoni left the club, initially intending to retire but then accepting on offer to extend his career in the United States with the Metrostars, where his form not only prompted a recall to the Italian national team but a further stint with AC Milan, where he was part of Alberto Zaccheroni's team that won Serie A in 1998-99.

Regarded as the most dedicated and selfless of players, he was once quoted as saying that his greatest satisfaction on the football field came from “making the pass that leads to the goal”.

In his international career, Donadoni made his senior debut for the Azzurri in 1986 and was a key member of the team that finished third in the 1990 World Cup on home soil under Azeglio Vicini, although the tournament was marred for him by missing one of Italy’s penalties in the shoot-out that determined their semi-final against Argentina, which was won by the South American side.

He went one better in the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Reunited with his former Milan coach Sacchi, he helped the Italians reach the final in Pasadena, but was again on the losing side after a penalty shoot-out, with Brazil taking the prize. This time, Donadoni was spared the responsibility of taking one of the kicks.

He retired for good in 2000, having helped Al-Ittihad win the Saudi Premier League title.

Since then he has built a second career as a coach. Following the traditional Italian route of working his way up through the lower divisions, Donadoni took his first coaching job with Lecco - just 15km (nine miles) north of his hometown of Cisano Bergamasco - and has since had another nine coaching contracts with eight clubs, as well as a two-year spell as head coach of the national team. 

He was sacked as Azzurri coach after Italy’s disappointing performance at Euro 2008 and had the misfortune to be in charge at Parma as the once highly-successful club plunged towards bankruptcy for a second time in 2015, when he was applauded for sticking by his players - unsuccessfully, in the end - as they battled to avoid relegation from Serie A, despite going unpaid for a year.

The new church of San Zenone in Cisano Bergamasco
The new church of San Zenone in
Cisano Bergamasco
Travel tip:

The small town of Cisano Bergamasco is in the San Martino valley, which straddles the provinces of Lecco, 15km (nine miles) to the north, and Bergamo, 20km (12 miles) to the southeast. It is also close to the lakeside city of Como, some 40km (25 miles) to the west. Although there has been a settlement in the area since Roman times, and some remains of the medieval Vimercati-Sozzi Castle are preserved within the grounds of a private villa, the Cisano Bergamasco of today is typical of the pleasant, well-maintained municipalities to be found in much of northern Italy.

Lecco sits alongside the beautiful Lago di Lecco, the eastern fork of Lake Como
Lecco sits alongside the beautiful Lago
di Lecco, the eastern fork of Lake Como
Travel tip:

Lecco, where Roberto Donadoni took his first steps in coaching, lies at the end of the south eastern branch of Lago di Como, which is known as Lago di Lecco. The Bergamo Alps rise to the north and east of the lake. The writer Alessandro Manzoni lived in Lecco for part of his life and based his famous novel, I promessi sposi, there. 

Also on this day:

1908: The birth of writer Cesare Pavese

1918: The birth of former Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro

1943: Allied troops land at Salerno, south of Naples

1982: The birth of photographer and film director Francesco Carrozzini


17 August 2018

Franco Sensi - businessman

Oil tycoon who rescued AS Roma football club

Franco Sensi was president of AS Roma for 15 years after rescuing the club from financial collapse
Franco Sensi was president of AS Roma for 15
years after rescuing the club from financial collapse
The businessman Francesco ‘Franco’ Sensi, best known as the businessman who transformed a near-bankrupt AS Roma into a successful football club, died on this day in 2008 in the Gemelli General Hospital in Rome.

He was 88 and had been in ill health for a number of years. He had been the longest-serving president of the Roma club, remaining at the helm for 15 years, and it is generally accepted that the success the team enjoyed during his tenure - a Serie A title, two Coppa Italia triumphs and two in the Supercoppa Italiana - would not have happened but for his astute management.

His death was mourned by tens of thousands of Roma fans who filed past his coffin in the days before the funeral at the Basilica of San Lorenzo al Verano, where a crowd put at around 30,000 turned out to witness the funeral procession.

The then-Roma coach Luciano Spalletti and captain Francesco Totti were among the pallbearers.

Sensi, whose father, Silvio, had helped bring about the formation of AS Roma in 1927 in a merger of three other city teams, grew up supporting the club and followed his father into a business career after graduating in mathematics at the University of Messina.

Francesco Totti was among Sensi's pallbearers
Francesco Totti was among
Sensi's pallbearers
He became a board member at the club in 1960 but left after less than two years following disagreements with fellow board members over football issues.

For the next few years he devoted himself to his business career, among other things founding the Italpetroli Company, which would become a major player in the oil and petrochemical sector.  He also had interests in publishing and real estate.

At the same time he developed a career in politics, serving as the Christian Democrat mayor of Visso, the small town in the Marche region where his family originated, for 10 years.

Sensi’s return to AS Roma came in 1993 season, when club president Giuseppe Ciarrapico had to step down following his conviction for financial crimes following the bankruptcy of one of his companies.

The club itself was mired in debt and on the brink of collapse. Sensi and his fellow entrepreneur Pietro Mezzaroma stepped in to save the club, Sensi becoming outright owner in November 1994 but then discovering its debts were even greater than he imagined, paying 20 billion lire to own the club but finding that the total owed to creditors was 100 billion lire.

Sensi negotiated a way to stability off the field and then set about rebuilding the team’s fortunes on the field.  He hired Carlo Mazzone as coach but though the team finished 7th in Serie A in the 1993-94 season, Sensi wanted better.

Mazzone gave way to Carlo Bianchi and in turn to Zdenek Zeman but success proved elusive until the arrival, in 1999, of Fabio Capello, a proven winner with an impressive coaching CV that included four Serie A titles with AC Milan in the 1990s, and the La Liga championship in Spain with Real Madrid.

Rosella Sensi took over the running of the club after her father became ill
Rosella Sensi took over the running of the club
after her father became ill
Capello arrived as part of a massive investment by Sensi that included retaining the services of Totti, the forward who would become a club icon, as well as bringing in the likes of top players Gabriel Batistuta, Walter Samuel, Emerson and Jonathan Zebina.

Sensi also hired Massimo Neri as a fitness coach, which meant the injury problems that had regularly hampered the team’s progress became much less frequent.  Capello set up the team to get the best out of their attacking talent and, with a solid defence marshalled by Samuel, he led Roma to the 2001 Scudetto.

It was not long, unfortunately, before Sensi’s health began to fail him and he handed control of the club to his daughter, Rosella, while continuing to oversee the operation as chairman as Capello’s success continued and returned under Spalletti, who won three trophies in his four years in charge.

Sensi's business achievements were honoured when the President of the Italian Republic made him a Cavaliere del lavoro in 1995 and many Italians believe he should have been appointed head of the Lega Calcio - the Italian Football League.

He is buried in the Verano Cemetery, close to the basilica and to the Sapienza University of Rome in the Tiburtino quarter of Rome.

The village of Visso, in the Sibillini mountains, where Sensi was mayor for 10 years
The village of Visso, in the Sibillini mountains, where
Sensi was mayor for 10 years
Travel tip:

The beautiful village of Visso, situated in the national park of the Sibillini mountains, boasts medieval buildings and Renaissance palaces. It is located about 80km (50 miles) southwest of Ancona and about 50km (31 miles) southwest of Macerata. At the heart of the village of the Piazza Pietro Capuzzi, where can be found the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria, which houses a number of medieval works of art. A short distance outside the village is the Sanctuary of Macereto, a Renaissance-style chapel or Marian shrine, built between 1528 and 1538.

The Basilica di San Lorenzo, where Sensi's funeral took place in August 2008
The Basilica di San Lorenzo, where Sensi's funeral took
place in August 2008
Travel tip:

The Basilica of San Lorenzo al Verano, also known as the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, where Sensi’s funeral was held, is a shrine to the martyred Roman deacon San Lorenzo. An Allied bombing raid in July 1943 devastated the facade, which was subsequently rebuilt.  The Basilica is the shrine of the tomb of Saint Lawrence, who was martyred in 258. The Basilica is now known as one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. It can be found in the Tiburtino quarter, not far from Sapienza University of Rome.

More reading:

The glittering career of Fabio Capello

Marco Delvecchio - the AS Roma striker who became a dance show star

How Angelo Schiavio won Italy's first World Cup

Also on this day:

1498: Cesare Borgia shocks Rome by resigning as a Cardinal

1740: Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini becomes Pope Benedict XIV


9 November 2017

Alessandro Del Piero – World Cup winner

Former striker is all-time record goalscorer for Juventus

Alessandro del Piero played for 19 seasons at Juventus, scoring 290 goals
Alessandro Del Piero played for 19 seasons
at Juventus, scoring 290 goals
The retired footballer Alessandro Del Piero, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and holds the club records for most goals (290) and most appearances (705) for Juventus, was born on this day in 1974 in Conegliano in the Veneto.

Regarded as one of Italy’s greatest players, his overall goals tally of 346 in Italian football in all competitions has been bettered only once in history, by Silvio Piola, who was a member of Italy’s winning team in the 1938 World Cup and who scored 390 goals in his career.  Del Piero also finished his career having scored at least one goal in every competition in which he took part.

Del Piero was a member of six Serie A title-winning Juventus teams between 1995 and 2012 and would have had eight winner’s medals had the club not been stripped of the 2005 and 2006 titles due to the so-called Calciopoli corruption scandal.

He also won a Champions League medal in 1996 after Marcello Lippi’s team beat Ajax on penalties to lift the trophy in Rome.

Del Piero played in three World Cups but was never able to reproduce his club form more than fleetingly in any of them.  He started only one match in the 2006 triumph of the Azzurri in Germany.

Del Piero leaving the stadium after his  World Cup semi-final goal against Germany
Del Piero leaving the stadium after his
World Cup semi-final goal against Germany
Nonetheless, he came off the bench in extra time to score the important second goal in the epic semi-final victory against the hosts.  In the final, against France, again a substitute, he scored from the penalty spot as Italy put together a perfect shoot-out to win 5-3 on penalties.

The son of an electrician, Gino, and his wife, Bruna, Del Piero dreamed of being a footballer but at one time considered a career as a lorry driver, because he thought it might provide his best chance of seeing other countries.

The family lived in Saccon, a hamlet outside Conegliano, and he played for his local youth team in San Vendemiano. He initially played in goal, which pleased his mother as she imagined there was less chance he would be injured, before he was persuaded by his brother, Stefano, that he would be wasted as a goalkeeper as he was as skilful as any of the team’s outfield players, if not better.

Stefano, who played professionally himself for Sampdoria before injury curtailed his career, went on to become his brother’s agent.

Del Piero’s first senior club was Padova, whose youth set-up he joined at the age of 13, making his senior debut aged 16 and his Serie B debut aged 17 in March 1992.  He scored his first senior goal in November of the same year.

Juventus signed him in 1993 for the sum of five billion lire and he would remain with the Turin side for 19 seasons under 11  managers, including Giovanni Trapattoni, who gave him his debut, Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps, Claudio Ranieri and Antonio Conte.

Del Piero played for Sydney FC in Australia after ending his time at Juventus in 2012
Del Piero played for Sydney FC in Australia after
ending his time at Juventus in 2012
It was clear from the start that he was going to be a goalscoring sensation.  He scored his first goal for the club on his second appearance as a substitute and marked his first start for the senior team with a hat-trick.

When Lippi succeeded Trapattoni, Del Piero began to play regularly after Roberto Baggio suffered a serious injury, taking his place alongside Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli and scoring eight goals as Juventus won the Serie A title for the first time in nine years.

There were similarities between his style of play and that of Baggio.  Both were technically very accomplished and both had the imagination to create goalscoring opportunities for themselves and others.  Gianni Agnelli, the club’s patriarchal former president, nicknamed him Pinturicchio after a Renaissance artist on the basis that his nickname for Baggio was Rafaello – Raphael – and Pinturicchio had been Raphael’s pupil.

In 19 seasons, inevitably, there were ups and downs, managers who appreciated his qualities and others who were less enthusiastic, but he inevitably retained the affection of the fans, not least when, as captain, he chose to remain with the club after their enforced relegation following the Calciopoli scandal, when many other stars left. He insisted that he owed the Agnelli family a debt of loyalty and would lead them back from Serie B to Serie A, which he did at the first attempt despite starting the season with a nine-point deduction.

It was Antonio Conte, his former team-mate, who would call time on Del Piero’s Juventus career when he announced at the start of the 2011-12 season that he would be using the player, by then almost 37, only sparingly.  Later in the season the club announced he would be released at the end of the campaign.

Del Piero stayed loyal to Juventus even in difficult times
Del Piero stayed loyal to Juventus even
in difficult times
Nonetheless, he scored some important goals, including one, against Lazio in April 2012, that would enable them to go top of the table on the way to regaining the title.  Ironically, he had come on as a half-time substitute for Mirko Vucinic, the Montenegrin striker Conte had signed as his replacement.

He made his final appearance in a Serie A match on May 13 against Atalanta, in the last match of the season and with the title already won.  He scored – his 208th league goal for the club – and when he was substituted he received an ovation from fans and both sets of players that went on for so long the match had to be halted as he completed a lap of honour.  There were similar scenes when he was taken off towards the end of the Coppa Italia final a few days later, his last match in the famous black and white shirt.

He played on for a couple of seasons in Australia and India on lucrative contracts before hanging up his boots for good in 2015. Since then he has pursued his interest in music – he is a friend of the musician Noel Gallagher, of Oasis fame – and done considerable work with charities.  He has made many appearances on television and is currently a regular pundit on Sky Sport Italia.

Married since 2005 to Sonia Amoruso, he has three children, sons Tobias and Sasha and a daughter, Dorotea.

One of Conegliano's ancient gates
One of Conegliano's ancient gates
Travel tip:

Conegliano is a town of almost 35,000 people in the Veneto, about 30km (19 miles) north of Treviso.  The remains of a 10th century castle, once owned by the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto, stands on a hill that dominates the town.  Conegliano is at the centre of a wine-producing region and is famous in particular for Prosecco, the popular sparkling wine made from the glera grape.

Travel tip:

Padua, known as Padova in Italian, where Del Piero began his career, is a city in the Veneto known among other things for the frescoes by Giotto in the  Scrovegni Chapel and the huge 13th-century Basilica di Sant’Antonio, with its seven Byzantine-style cupolas and four cloisters. The basilica contains many notable artworks and the saint’s tomb. The town itself is particularly appealing for its arcaded streets and stylish cafes.

8 May 2017

Franco Baresi - AC Milan great

Defender voted club's 'player of the century'

Franco Baresi made 719 appearances for AC Milan
Franco Baresi made 719 appearances for AC Milan
The great AC Milan and Italy footballer Franco Baresi was born on this day in 1960 in Travagliato, a town in Lombardy about 13km (8 miles) south-west of Brescia.

Baresi, a central defender who was at his most effective playing in the libero – sweeper – role, made 719 competitive appearances for the rossoneri, with whom he spent his entire playing career, spanning 20 years.

During that time he won the Italian championship – the Scudetto – six times and the European Cup three times, as well as many other trophies. He was made captain of the team at just 22 years old.

At Milan he was part of one of the most formidable defences of all time, alongside Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti, and later Christian Panucci, with Giovanni Galli in goal.  He and Maldini shared the extraordinary record that in 196 matches they played together, AC Milan conceded only 23 goals.

Baresi also won 81 caps for the Azzurri in an international career in which he went to three World Cups. 

Although he did not make an appearance, he was part of the Azzurri squad that won the competition in Spain in 1982, was an integral member of the team that finished third on home soil in Italia ’90 and captained the side in the United States in 1994. There he heroically battled back from a meniscus injury to lead the team in the final in Pasadena, where he suffered the cruel misfortune, in common with another Azzurri legend, Roberto Baggio, of missing a penalty in a shoot-out won by Brazil.

Franco Baresi with his brother Giuseppe (left), who played for Milan's city rivals Internazionale
Franco Baresi with his brother Giuseppe (left), who played
for Milan's city rivals Internazionale
At his peak, Baresi earned the right to be considered the equal of some of the greatest defensive players in the history of football.  Although he was not a giant physically – he stood only 1.76m (5ft 9ins) and weighed just 70kg (11st 4lb) – he tackled ferociously and headed powerfully. The gifts that made him stand out, however, were his ability to read the game, to anticipate trouble and to launch attacks with his accurate passing. In that respect, he was spoken of in the same breath as the sweeper of the West German team of the 1960s and 70s, the redoubtable Franz Beckenbauer.

Baresi lost both his parents by the age of 16, which meant that he and his older brother, Giuseppe, had to grow up quickly. Both were determined to make their careers in football. Giuseppe was taken on by AC Milan’s rivals, Internazionale, at the age of 14. Franco tried to follow the same path but was rejected as too small.  Undaunted, he went for trials with the rossoneri and won a contract, claiming that he was “always a Milanista” as a fan and was therefore fulfilling his dream.

His potential was recognised almost immediately and Nils Liedholm, Milan’s legendary Swedish player and then coach, gave him his debut towards the end of the 1977-78 season, in the same team as Fabio Capello and Gianni Rivera.  His nickname in the Milan dressing room was Piscinin, a Milanese dialect word meaning ‘the little one’, yet he quickly established himself as one of the key members of the team, winning the Scudetto in his first full season.

Franco Baresi as he is today
Franco Baresi as he is today
Milan subsequently went through some tough times, which included relegation from Serie A in a match-fixing scandal, but Baresi stuck with them and became a vital component in some of the finest Milan teams of all time, notably the squad coached by Arrigo Sacchi to win the 1989 European Cup, beating Real Madrid 6-1 on aggregate in the semi-final before thumping Steaua Bucharest 4-0 on the final.  Apart from the aforementioned defensive combination of Baresi, Costacurta, Tassotti and Maldini, the team included the great midfielders Roberto Donadoni and Carlo Ancelotti and the brilliant Dutch trio of Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit.

In 1999, he was voted Milan's Player of the Century. He was named by Pelé one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at the FIFA centenary awards ceremony in 2004, and inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2013.  After his final season at Milan in 1997, the club retired Baresi's number six shirt in his honour.

His coaching career included a short spell working in England as director of football at Fulham and he has worked for AC Milan in various capacities, as executive, youth team coach and in the club’s marketing department.. The father of a 16-year-old son, Eduardo, and the uncle of Inter women’s star Regina Baresi, his opinion nowadays is regularly sort by the Italian media as he remains a high-profile figure. 

The Piazza Libertà in Travagliato
The Piazza Libertà in Travagliato
Travel tip:

Baresi’s hometown, Travagliato, just outside Brescia, is sometimes called the Citadel of Horses on account of the equestrian festivals hosted there every April and May, which feature polo matches, harness racing and show jumping events among other things. The town also has a number of fine churches, including the church of Our Lady of Lourdes and the church of Santa Maria dei Campi.

Travel tip:

Brescia is a rich industrial city not on the main tourist track but has numerous things to see, including the old and new Duomos, one built in the 12th century, one in the 19th century, which are next door to one another.  It is also famous for its museums, one of which is dedicated to the Mille Miglia, the former car race from Brescia to Rome and back.

17 March 2017

Giovanni Trapattoni - football coach

His seven Serie A titles is unequalled achievement

Giovanni Trapattoni during his time as Juventus coach
Giovanni Trapattoni during his
time as Juventus coach
Giovanni Trapattoni, the former Juventus and Internazionale coach who is one of only four coaches to have won the principal league titles of four different European countries, was born on this day in 1939 in Cusano Milanino, a suburb on the northern perimeter of Milan.

The most successful club coach in the history of Serie A, he won seven titles, six with Juventus and one with Inter.  His nearest challengers in terms of most Italian domestic championships are Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi, each of whom has five Scudetti to his name.

In addition, Trapattoni has also won the German Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, the Portuguese Primeira Liga with Benfica and the Austrian Bundesliga with Red Bull Salzburg, with whom he secured his 10th league title all told in 2007.

Current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is among the other three managers to have won titles in four countries.  He has been successful in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.

Alongside former Bayern Munich coach Udo Lattek, Trapattoni is the only coach to have won all three major European club competitions - the European Cup, the UEFA Cup and the now defunct European Cup-Winners' Cup - and the only one to do it with the same club.  With Juventus, he also won the European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.

During a career in the dugout that spanned four decades, Trapattoni - often referred to as 'Il Trap' or simply 'Trap' -  was in charge at nine different clubs, including five in Italy.  He has also tasted international management twice, with the Italian national side and with the Republic of Ireland.

Trapattoni (right) and his assistant Marco Tardelli on the bench with the Republic of Ireland
Trapattoni (right) and his assistant Marco Tardelli on the
bench with the Republic of Ireland
He built his achievements around a method that combined elements of 'catenaccio' - for many years the defensive foundation of Italy's best teams - and the 'total football' pioneered by the Dutch coach Rinus Michels in the 1970s. His biggest regret was that he could not translate it to success with the Azzurri after he succeeded Dino Zoff as Italy coach in 2000.

Trapattoni's team qualified unbeaten for the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea but in the finals were knocked out in the round of 16 in controversial circumstances by the co-hosts, South Korea, when a number of decisions by Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno went against Italy, leading many Italian commentators and Trapattoni himself to suspect a conspiracy to keep the Koreans in the tournament.

He also led them to the finals of Euro 2004 but the Azzurri this time failed to survive the group stage, their fate sealed when the final group match, between Denmark and Sweden, ended in a draw, which resulted in Italy's elimination. Trapattoni was replaced by Lippi as coach soon afterwards.

Trapattoni entered coaching after a massively successful playing career with AC Milan.

Trapattoni with goalkeeper Fabio Cudicini and coach Nereo Rocco after the 1968 Cup-Winners' Cup Final
Trapattoni with goalkeeper Fabio Cudicini and coach
Nereo Rocco after the 1968 Cup-Winners' Cup Final
A central defender or defensive midfielder in the Milan team in which Gianni Rivera was creative star, Trapattoni won two Serie A titles and two European Cups during his 12 years with the rossoneri, also winning the Cup-Winners' Cup, the European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.

Apart from one season with Varese at the end of his career, he played only for AC Milan. It was there that he began life as a coach, looking after the youth team and, for one season, the senior team before Juventus took him to Turin, where he enjoyed immediate success, leading his new team to the Serie A title in his first year in charge.

After four titles in his first six seasons with Juve, he took the bianconeri to the European Cup final in 1983, where they lost to Hamburg.  Two years later, he won the European Cup, although the victory over reigning champions Liverpool in Brussels was rendered hollow by the crowd violence at the Heysel Stadium, where 39 fans - mainly Italians - were killed when a wall collapsed.

Following a decade with Juve that brought six Serie A titles, two Coppe Italia and all the European glory, Trapattoni moved to Inter, where he won his seventh Serie A crown, then back to Juve, adding the 1993 UEFA Cup to his long list of silverware, before venturing abroad for the first time, with Bayern Munich.

Giovanni Trapattoni
Giovanni Trapattoni
He left Munich after just one season to become coach at Cagliari, where he was sacked for the first time in his career in 1996, before a triumphant second spell in Germany, in which he led Munich to the Bundesliga title in 1997.  Next stop was Fiorentina, whom he took into the Champions League.

After his disappointing four years in charge of the national side, Trapattoni's next five seasons took him to Benfica, Stuttgart and Salzburg.  After winning his ninth and 10th national titles, he returned to international football in slightly unexpected circumstances, taking over as coach of the Republic of Ireland team in 2008.

His biggest achievement with the Irish was qualification for the Euro 2012, hosted by Poland and Ukraine, although in some ways it was small consolation for failing to reach the World Cup finals in 2010, when Ireland earned a play-off against France only to be beaten by a contentious goal from William Gallas in the second leg in Paris after Thierry Henry handled the ball twice in the build-up.

Away from football, Trapattoni, who came from a working class background, has been married for 53 years to Paola. They have two children and a number of grandchildren.

A religious man, he is a follower of the Catholic institution Opus Dei and has been known to sprinkle holy water on the field before a game.  In 2010, he realised a lifetime's ambition by coaching the Vatican City team for a match against an Italian police team.

Cusano Milanino, notable for its leafy thoroughfares, is served by Milan's extensive tram network
Cusano Milanino, notable for its leafy thoroughfares, is
served by Milan's extensive tram network
Travel tip:

Although the history of the town of Cusano goes back to the fourth century, the 20th century brought a change in its character due to the development of the garden city of Milanino, the first to be built in Italy along the lines of those that began to appear in England at the end of the 19th century. With the support of a co-operative movement founded by Luigi Buffoli, Milanino was created to meet the housing needs of the middle class, consisting of elegant villas and cottages, in Art Nouveau and eclectic styles, interspersed with numerous green spaces, which are a particular rarity in the urbanised northern outskirts of Milan. The area became known as Cusano Milanino in 1915.

Milan's stunning Gothic cathedral
Milan's stunning Gothic cathedral
Travel tip:

Milan, where Trapattoni spent almost his entire playing career, is to many a more appropriate city to be the capital of Italy than Rome.  The global capital of fashion and design, it is also home to Italy's stock exchange, a financial hub and a city with a wealth of culture and history. The striking Gothic Duomo di Milano is one of the finest cathedrals in Europe, there are numerous prestigious art galleries and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent houses Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper.  The city has one of the world's most important opera houses in Teatro alla Scala and two of Europe's leading football clubs in AC Milan, for whom Trapattoni played and coached, and Internazionale, where he coached.

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 CC BY-SA 3.0) 
(Photo of Trieste town hall by Twice25 and Rinina25 CC BY-SA 2.5)