Giovanni Trapattoni – The Republic of Ireland Opens the Trap Door

Image courtesy of the FAI.

Giovanni Trapattoni, who will be 69 years of age in March, was named on 13 February 2008 as the new manager of the Republic of Ireland National Team by the FAI selection committee in a press conference in Dublin. Mr. Trapattoni signed a two year deal, and will begin his term on 01 May 2008 after he completes his contractual obligations with Red Bull Salzburg. His first game in charge will be the home friendly against Serbia on 24 May.

“Lasciare lo scudetto come un regalo di addio ai miei Bulls – ha dichiarato il Trap, citato dal sito internet del Salisburgo- è ora il mio obiettivo numero uno”.

“To leave the championship title as a farewell gift to my Bulls,” ‘Trap’ declared, which was published on the Salzburg web site, “is my number one objective.”

Source: Gazzetta dello Sport, 13 February 2007.

He has requested to be assisted by Irish legend, Liam Brady, who played many years in Italy, and won two Serie A titles while coached by Mr. Trapattoni at Juventus. Mr. Brady is the current Director at the Arsenal Academy.

“I am hopeful Arsene Wenger will let Liam do the job as well as his Arsenal commitment,” the 68-year-old said.

: BBC Sport, 13 February 2007.

Mr. Trapattoni had requested Claudio Gentile, a former Juventus defender and winner of the 1982 World Cup, as part of his back room staff. Mr. Gentile, who coached the Italian U-21 from 2000 to 2006, has declined the offer at this time.

The FAI Press Conference, 13 Feb 2008

Don Givens, one of the members of the selection committee and former caretaker manager of the ROI:

“We had an initial difficulty to go to meet him in Austria; hence the reason why I came back to ask the Board for 10 more days to conclude the deal with Mr. Trapattoni… On Sunday, we went to the hotel, and we’re picked up by Mr. Trapattoni and taken to his house. We had a two hour meeting (it was later remarked that the discussion was in English, and Mr. Trapattoni did not consult with his Italian/English dictionary even one time). You can imagine talking for 2 hours about football with a man such as him. After that, we knew he was our man.”

Ray Houghton, one of the members of the selection committee:

“We took a little longer than we hoped. We believe 100% that he is the man to take the Irish team forward… People question his age. He runs everyday. He trains with the team. His fitness in not in question. He has an unbelievable passion for the football. He wants to be part of Ireland’s future. He wants to take us forward… He spoke with Liam Brady who gave a glowing reference to the Irish players.”

When asked about the upcoming WC 2010 qualification games with Italy, he said, ‘You always want to beat the team where you used to play.’

“It’s a two year deal that begins on 01 May. He is bringing two people with him (assistant manager and fitness coach), but they will be announced later. He wants an Irish connection. In the next few days, we will be meeting with him.”

Famous News Conference at Bayern Munich

Man Marked Pele’ Out of a Game in 1963

Eusebio of Benfica and Giovanni Trapattoni of AC Milan at the 1963 European Cup final at Wembley.
Eusebio of Benfica and Giovanni Trapattoni of AC Milan during the 1963 European Cup final at Wembley won by Milan.

Image courtesy of Toffs, the old fashioned football shirt company.

Mr. Trapattoni, or “Trap,” as he is affectionately known, was a former defender and midfielder for AC Milan. He won the European Cup twice with them, along with several Serie A titles. He was also capped 14 times for the Azzurri.

“A top-class defender during his playing career with Milan, Trapattoni’s most notable performance came for the national side.

He virtually marked Pele out of the match when Italy beat Brazil 3-0 at the San Siro in May 1963.”

Source: BBC Sport, 11 April 2002.

Incredible Coaching Dossier

He has won ten domestic titles as a manager in four different countries. He is known as a very cautious and defensive coach, but one who has achieved significant results except at the National team level. His four years on the Azzurri bench were marred by a controversial defeat to South Korea at World Cup 2002, along with a humiliating first round exit at Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Here is a list of his coaching jobs:

  • AC Milan
  • Juventus: Won the European Cup in 1985 at Heysel against Liverpool. Also won 2 UEFA Cups, a Cup Winners Cup, along with six Serie A titles.
  • Internazionale: Won the UEFA Cup and one Serie A title.
  • Bayern Munich: Won the Bundesliga Championship in 1997 in his second stint at the club.
  • Cagliari of Sardinia: Fired before they were relegated in 1996.
  • Fiorentina
  • The Italian National Team: 2000 to 2004.
  • Benfica: Won the Portuguese SuperLiga Championship in 2005.
  • Stuttgart: Fired in 2006 after a 20 game spell.
  • Red Bull Salzburg: Won the Austrian Bundesliga Championship in 2007.

Unpretentious Despite His Fame

When he was the coach of the Azzurri, he had an office in the back room of a friend’s car repair/muffler shop in Milan. The players used to ring him on his cellphone. Despite being in his 60s, he still participated during intrasquad games. He has a custom of sprinkling holy water on the touchline to remove “negativity” before each game.

” ‘I’m not superstitious,’ laughs coach Giovanni Trapattoni, trim as ever at a shade over 65, ‘but I am religious.’ Will he be taking the bottle of holy water that he kept in his pocket in South Korea? ‘Oh yes,’ he smiles. The water did not prevent Italy’s Far East debacle but Trapattoni kept his job, itself a minor miracle.”

Source: Financial Times, 08 June 2004.

Giovanni Trapattoni in training.
Image courtesy of the BBC.

His Coaching Record for the Italian National Team

Mr. Trapattoni was the coach of the Azzurri between 2000 and 2004. According to Football Italia, Mr. Trapattoni had the following record:

  • Games Managed: 44.
  • Games Won: 25: Winning percentage of 57%.
  • Games Drawn: 12.
  • Games Lost: 7.

Historic Occasion

Guess who faces each other in World Cup 2010 qualification?

Italy and Ireland.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, and Montenegro are their other rivals in Group 8. The first place team will gain automatic qualification, and the eight best second place finishers will enter an elimination round for the four final places.

To the best of my knowledge, this will mark the first time that an Azzurri manager will encounter his former team. At World Cup 1998, Cesare Maldini came one game away from facing both his son, Paolo, along with his previous team, Italy, in the quarterfinals. Maldini Sr. was the manager of Paraguay, who lost to France in the round of 16.

In bocca al lupo, Mister Trapattoni. Irish eyes hopefully will be smiling. If he can qualify Ireland for South Africa, no doubt he will be called Saint Giovanni of Dublin.

When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure it’s like a morning spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

There’s a tear in your eye,
and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile,
sure a stone you’d beguile,
So there’s never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be,
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
And now smile a smile for me.

Steve Amoia is the author and editor of World Football Commentaries, and also writes for Soccerlens.

Update #1: Added quotes from Don Givens and Ray Houghton from the FAI press conference.

Update #2: Marco Tardelli joins Trapattoni’s backroom staff.

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