Showing posts with label Venezia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Venezia. Show all posts

9 August 2018

Filippo Inzaghi - football manager

World Cup winning player turned successful coach

Filippo Inzaghi took Venezia to the verge of a place in Serie A
Filippo Inzaghi took Venezia to the
verge of a place in Serie A
The former Azzurri striker Filippo Inzaghi, who was a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad, was born on this day in 1973 in Piacenza.

A traditional goal poacher, known more for his knack of being in the right place at the right moment than for a high level of technical skill, Inzaghi scored 313 goals in his senior career before retiring as a player in 2012 and turning to coaching. He has recently been appointed manager of the Serie A team Bologna.

Inzaghi came off the substitutes’ bench to score the second goal as Italy beat the Czech Republic 2-0 to clinch their qualification for the knock-out stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany but found it impossible to win a starting place in competition with Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero in Marcello Lippi’s squad.

He also picked up a runners-up medal in Euro 2000, hosted jointly by Belgium and the Netherlands, where he scored against Turkey in the opening group game and against Romania in the quarter-final but was overlooked by coach Dino Zoff in his team for the final.

Inzaghi scored more goals than his hero Marco van Basten in his career with AC Milan
Inzaghi scored more goals than his hero Marco van
Basten in his career with AC Milan
His club career was one of success after success, principally during his time at Juventus and AC Milan.  A Serie A winner with the Turin club in 1998, he was twice a Scudetto winner with Milan, with whom he twice won the Champions League, beating his old club Juventus in the 2003 Final at Old Trafford, and overcoming Liverpool in the 2007 Final in Athens, when Inzaghi scored both Milan’s goals and was named Man of the Match.

Inzaghi’s goals tally, which includes 10 Serie A hat-tricks, is the seventh highest in Italian football history and he is the fourth highest goalscorer in European club competitions with 70 goals, behind only Raúl, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. His 43 goals in international fixtures for Milan, for whom he scored twice against Boca Juniors of Argentina in the 2007 Club World Cup final, is a club record.

At international level, Inzaghi earned 57 caps for the Italy national team between 1997 and 2007, scoring 25 goals.

The sons of a textile salesman, Inzaghi and his younger brother Simone, who would also go on to be a striker in Serie A and the Italy national team, were brought up in the village of San Nicolò, just outside the city of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna.

Filippo - also known as ‘Pippo’ - grew up wanting to emulate Italy’s 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi and later Milan’s great Dutch striker Marco van Basten.

Inzaghi (centre, No 9) and the rest of the AC Milan team celebrate winning the Champions League in 2003
Inzaghi (centre, No 9) and the rest of the AC Milan team
celebrate winning the Champions League in 2003
He began his career with his local club, Piacenza, where he became a first-team regular after a couple of spells on loan to lower division clubs. His 15 goals in 37 matches in the 1994-95 Serie B season earned his club promotion to Serie A.

Despite their success, Piacenza accepted an offer from Parma for their star striker. However, though he became a favourite with the fans, Inzaghi’s career under coach Nevio Scala stalled after an injury and he was sold on again after one season.

The next move, to Atalanta of Bergamo, brought his big breakthrough. Even though Atalanta finished only 10th in Serie A, Inzaghi scored 24 goals, which made him the league’s Capocannoniere - top scorer. Incredibly, he scored either home or away against every other team and was named Serie A Young Footballer of the Year.

The success earned him a 23 billion lire move to Juventus, where he would stay for four years, in which time he became the first player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League twice, helped the bianconeri win the Scudetto in 1997-98 with 18 goals and scored six times in helping the team reach the Champions League final, where they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid.

Inzaghi turned to coaching when he  retired as a player in 2012
Inzaghi turned to coaching when he
retired as a player in 2012
Despite his 89 goals in 165 games for Juventus, he eventually fell out of favour and was sold again in 2001, this time for 70 billion lire to Milan, where he suffered a knee injury early in his first season but returned to form a potent partnership with Andriy Shevchenko and later Kaká in the 11 years that would be the most successful of his career, ultimately overtaking his hero Van Basten on the list of the club’s all-time top goalscorers.

A serious knee injury meant his involvement in the 2010-11 title-winning season was limited.  Less frequently used as a first-choice striker, he was told he would not be retained at the end of the following season, at which point he announced his retirement, a month short of his 39th birthday.

He began his coaching career immediately as head coach of AC Milan’s Primavera (Under-19) team and took over as head coach of the first team in July 2014 after the dismissal of his former playing colleague, Clarence Seedorf, under whose stewardship the club had failed to qualify for either of the European club competitions for the first time in 15 years.

Inzaghi could not bring about an improvement, but his dismissal after one season enabled him to find his first success as a club manager with Venezia, in the third tier of the Italian league system, known as Lega Pro.

Venezia won Lega Pro in Inzaghi’s first season in charge and reached the Serie B play-offs in his second year, although they missed out on a return to Serie A.

Nonetheless, with an impressive win ratio of more than 50 per cent from his 95 matches in charge, it was no surprise when Bologna, 15th in the 2017-18 Serie A season, offered him a return to the top flight.

The Chiesa San Nicolò in Inzaghi's home village
The Chiesa San Nicolò in Inzaghi's home village
Travel tip:

Inzaghi’s home village of San Nicolò is a parish in the municipality of Rottafreno, which literally translates as ‘broken brake’ and often provokes laughter. It is thought the name may go back to the time of Hannibal and the Second Punic War (218-202 BC), when Hannibal was said to have been forced to spend the night in the village after his horse’s bit, which serves as a brake for the rider. Local people embraced the story so enthusiastically that the town’s municipal emblem includes the head of a horse with a broken bit.

Piazza Duomo in Piacenza
Piazza Duomo in Piacenza
Travel tip:

Piacenza is a city of 103,000 people in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The main square in Piacenza is named Piazza Cavalli because of its two bronze equestrian monuments by Francesco Mochi featuring Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and his son Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma. The city is situated between the River Po and the Apennines, between Bologna and Milan. It has many fine churches and old palaces. Piacenza Cathedral was built in 1122 and is a good example of northern Italian Romanesque architecture.

More reading:

Marcello Lippi, Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning coach

Nevio Scala and Parma's golden era

The World Cup heroics of Paolo Rossi

Also on this day:

1173: Work begins on the bell tower that would become the Leaning Tower of Pisa

1939: The birth of politician Romano Prodi


1 April 2018

Alberto Zaccheroni - football coach

First Italian coach to lead a foreign nation to success

Alberto Zaccheroni achieved success at many levels in Italian football
Alberto Zaccheroni achieved success at many
levels in Italian football
The football coach Alberto Zaccheroni, who won the Serie A title with AC Milan and steered the Japan national team to success in the Asia Cup, was born on this day in 1953 in Meldola, a town in Emilia-Romagna.

In a long coaching career, Zaccheroni has taken charge of 13 teams in Italy, a club side in China and two international teams, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

In common with many coaches in Italy, Zaccheroni began at semi-professional level and worked his way up through the professional leagues.  Before winning the Scudetto with Milan in 1999, he had twice won titles at Serie D (fourth tier) level and twice in Serie C.

Zaccheroni played as a fullback, with the youth team at Bologna and the Serie D team Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna, but his career was hampered by a lung disease he contracted at the age of 17, which meant he could not train or play for two years.

He quit playing in his mid-20s and began to coach Cesenatico’s youth teams.  His coaching talents began to attract attention when, in two consecutive seasons, he was asked to take over on the bench for Cesenatico’s first team following the sacking of the head coach and on each occasion saved them from relegation.

This brought him a head coach’s position in his own right at Riccione, near Rimini, where he won promotion to Serie C2, and then at Baracca Lugo, the team near Ravenna that takes its name from Francesco Baracca, the First World War flying ace who was born in the town.

The German striker Oliver Bierhoff served  Zaccheroni at Udinese and AC Milan
The German striker Oliver Bierhoff served
Zaccheroni at Udinese and AC Milan
He achieved promotion in consecutive seasons with Baracca Lugo, taking them into Serie C2 and then C1, before continuing his rapid rise with Venezia, where he won the Serie C1 play-off to take the club of La Serenissima into Serie B for the first time in 24 years.

After Venezia, Zaccheroni spent a season with Bologna before taking up his first post outside northern Italy at Cosenza in Calabria, where he had a remarkable Serie B season, taking over a team that had began the campaign with a nine-point penalty yet not only avoided relegation but at one point were in contention for promotion to Serie A.

As a result, he landed his first Serie A post with Udinese, where he became known as the father of 3-4-3, the tactical formation he favoured and which became the stock system for other coaches, such as Antonio Conte, who employed it with great success at Juventus and Chelsea at club level, and with the Italian national team.

Bringing together an Italian (Paolo Poggi), a German (Oliver Bierhoff) and a Brazilian (Marcio Amoroso) in his forward line, Zaccheroni steered Udinese to 10th place, fifth and third in consecutive seasons.  The fifth place in 1997 meant the Friulian club qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in its history.

This opened the door to even bigger challenges, this time with AC Milan, one of the giants of Italian football.  Zaccheroni was successful immediately, delivering the club’s 16th Scudetto in their centenary season, with his former Lazio star Oliver Bierhoff the leading goalscorer.

Zaccheroni took charge of the Japan national team in 2011
Zaccheroni took charge of the Japan
national team in 2011
Only then did Zaccheroni’s almost continuous record of success come to a halt. He could not replicate his domestic success in the Champions League and when Milan finished sixth in 2000-01, his third season in charge, and therefore qualified only for a UEFA Cup place, he was dismissed by president Silvio Berlusconi.

Faced with much higher demands, he subsequently spent only one season at Lazio, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and one season with Internazionale, where he finished fourth and thereby clinched a Champions League place, but on each occasion he was replaced as head coach with Roberto Mancini.  

From Inter, Zaccheroni went to Torino and then Juventus, again without success, before the chance arose to take charge of the Japan national team in 2011.

Despite language problems - Zaccheroni struggled to learn any Japanese and had to communicate with his players either via an interpreter or, as one of his players later explained, with only gestures when no interpreter was available - he led the Japan to the Asia Cup in his first season in charge, the first Italian coach to be successful with an international team other than Italy.

Subsequently, Zaccheroni’s Japan won the East Asia Cup in 2013 and qualified for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

He left after the 2014 World Cup, when Japan finished bottom of their group. Following an unsuccessful stint in the up-and-coming Chinese professional league as coach of of Beijing Guoan, Zaccheroni accepted his second international posting as head coach of the United Arab Emirates, with whom he reached the final of the Gulf Nations Cup in January this year.

The castle at Zaccheroni's home town of Meldola
The castle at Zaccheroni's home town of Meldola
Travel tip:

Zaccheroni’s home town of Meldola, situated some 14km (9 miles) south of Forli in the foothills of the Apennines, with a population of just over 10,000, was once notable for the production of silk.  The site of a large Roman aqueduct, now submerged, it has a well-preserved medieval castle. The Rocca della Caminate fortress was a former holiday home of the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

The canal-port at Cesenatico was built to designs by Leonardo da Vinci
The canal-port at Cesenatico was built to designs
by Leonardo da Vinci
Travel tip:

The Adriatic resort of Cesenatico, where Zaccheroni began his coaching career, is 16km (10 miles) from the city of Cesena, on the stretch of coast between Rimini and Ravenna, has a number of distinctions, including an 118-metre office and apartment building that was once the tallest building in Italy and a port and canal built from designs commissioned of Leonardo da Vinci. It also has a handsome, Liberty-style Grand Hotel and a museum dedicated to the former cycling champion Marco Pantani.

More reading:

Massimiliano Allegri, the former Milan coach who broke records at Juventus

Roberto Mancini - the Italian who led Manchester City to their first title for 44 years

Why Milan great Franco Baresi was called the player of the century

Also on this day:

April Fools' Day - Italian style

1946: The birth of former AC Milan and Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi