Italy’s Top 5 Coaches In History
Italy: Five Best Managers In History
With the imminent goodbye of Cesare Prandelli from the Italian National Team after the World Cup in Brazil, the entire country is now wondering who is going to be taking the most desired job an Italian manager can ever have. For sure, with the main candidatures of Massimiliano Allegri and Alberto Zaccheroni, a lot is being said whether or not they are good enough to lead one of the strongest and most successful teams of all times.
Such doubts, moreover, are more than understandable given that coaching Italy must certainly be one of the most challenging responsibilities of the soccer world, considering how influential its managers are always able to become in its victories. As a matter of fact, the traditional role played by the Nazionale coaches in international competitions is almost always more relevant than in any other national team in the world.
For this reason, it is not a surprise to realize that the Azzurri have written uncountable pages of glory over the course of history, despite not always having the world's best players. Unlike countries like Argentina and Spain, the Italian successes are predominantly determined by a great sense of leadership and the character of its coaches, who are always able to get extra power from regular players in decisive moments.
Among the main examples, fans even find the stupendous performances of Antonio Bennarrivo during the 1994 World Cup, when he perfectly filled in for Paolo Maldini, who was forced to play in the middle due to Franco Baresi's injury. Bennarrivo's high level was a clear representation of Arrigo Sacchi's great coaching abilities, which led Italy to be on the verge of another World Cup title.
Even more, the history of the Nazionale is full of these examples. The most glorious, however, are certainly the ones of Marco Materazzi and Fabio Grosso in Germany 2006 as they became national heroes, despite never being world-class players.
Without further ado, here are the best five coaches Italy has ever had. The special excluded is Azeglio Vicini, who, despite displaying great soccer on the pitch, committed many crucial mistakes that prevented Italy from winning the 1990 World Cup at home.
Ferruccio Valcareggi was, without a doubt, one the most criticized coaches in the history of the Nazionale. Certainly, even today the public opinion still judges him for the poor way in which he handled the situation between Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera. To many of the players, however, he was considered an authentic father, more than a simple coach.
Having won the first and only European Championship of Italy in 1968, Valcareggi got also very close to the World Cup triumph in 1970, when the Azzurri had to submit to Brazil's superiority in the final. Despite this, his memorable win over Germany in the semifinal is still remembered today as one of the best soccer matches ever played.
Despite his difficulties, no other Italian coach has ever been able to reach both European and World Cup final.
The man of a thousand challenges and difficulties, Arrigo Sacchi also managed to be very close to a World Cup title despite an almost shameful start in 1994. For sure, he deserves credit for having believed in Roberto Baggio at all times, including when the player struggled to show his level in the first games of the competitions.
Even more, unlike Valcareggi, he lost to Brazil only in penalty-kicks, even if he played an overall better game than the South American side during the final.
Marcello Lippi's level cannot be minimally questioned. The misfortune of South Africa 2010 will never cancel out the glorious days of Germany 2006, when the Azzurri won the fourth World Cup title in their history. However, more than the actual victory, Lippi has the merit of having been able to successfully handle extremely challenging situations, both on and off the field.
Like Valcareggi, his victory over Germany in the semifinal will forever be remembered in the history of soccer, especially for having had the courage of playing the extra time with four strikers at the same time. Unlike Sacchi, the penalty kicks destined him to a better fortune.
The story of Enzo Bearzot is very similar to the one of Lippi. It was a challenging beginning, being basically alone against the media and a glorious achievement. Following the glory were other misfortunes.
Overall, perhaps Bearzot faced more struggles than Lippi in their respective adventures. For this reason, he is considered by many even superior to the rest, regardless of the actual title.
It would be just impossible not to rank Vittorio Pozzo as the best ever had. Regardless of his systems and personality, which are almost unknown in today's world, his achievements and records have remained unbeaten for almost 80 years now.
As a matter of fact, he is still today the only coach in soccer history who has been able to win two World Cups, in 1934 and 1938. Even more, Pozzo accomplished this while also winning a Olympic Golden medal in 1936. Three consecutive titles that could only be overcome if Spain will be able to win its fourth major competition in a row in Brazil.