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Born: Friday 17 March 1939, Cusano Milanino, Italy
Position: Defensive Midfielder/Manager
A member of AC Milan's great team of the 1960s during his playing days, the greatest successes of Giovanni Trapattoni's career have come in a managerial career which has lasted more than 35 years. Establishing a reputation as one of the world's top coaches during a trophy-laden spell with Juventus, he has won domestic league titles in four different countries and led two national teams into major international competitions.
Trapattoni was born in Cusano Milanino near Milan on 17 March 1939, joining AC Milan at the age of 14 and spending almost his entire playing career with the club. As a player, he was an accomplished left-half and centre-half and later in his career was used in a more recognisable defensive midfield position, being given the role of distributing the ball to the club's more creative attacking players.
Having made his Serie A debut in January 1960, Trapattoni's career coincided with a period of great success for Milan. Between 1962 and 1969, he won two league titles and one Coppa Italia, as well as the first two European Cups in the club's history in 1963 and 1969. He played for Italy in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and also made 17 official international appearances, but despite being part of the squad for the 1962 World Cup in Chile he did not appear in the tournament as Italy crashed out in the group stage.
After one season with Varese in 1971-72, Trapattoni retired aged 33 and moved into coaching. He returned to Milan to work with the youth and reserve teams, before becoming first team coach in 1975. A year later he moved to Juventus, and it was there that he established his reputation as one of the finest coaches in the game. Inheriting an strong squad, he got off to a fantastic start, beating Athletic Bilbao on away goals to win the UEFA Cup before edging out city rivals Torino on the final day of the Serie A season to take the title.
Throughout his time at Juve, Trapattoni developed a reputation as a defensively minded coach but he often denied the label, pointing to the gifted attacking players he had at his disposal. He did nevertheless prioritise teamwork over individual flair and his team developed one of the finest counter-attacking systems the game had seen. The style made them very difficult to beat, as they retained the Serie A title in 1978 for the loss of just one game.
Although Juve won the Coppa Italia a year later, an early European Cup exit and the loss of the league title saw Trapattoni under pressure as the 1970s came to a close. Forced to shake up his team, he managed to retain a strong defensive unit while also adding a great offensive threat. In 1980-81, Juve had not only he best defensive record in Serie A but also the best goalscoring record, which unsurprisingly took them to another league title.
The championship was retained in 1982 and the Coppa Italia followed a year later, but Juventus craved European success. That arrived in the shape of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1984 as Trapattoni's team beat Porto in the final, and with the league title having been won days earlier Juventus were set up for another attempt at the European Cup in 1984-85, a competition they had never won.
Victory over Bordeaux took them into the final against holders Liverpool, but the game was overshadowed by terrible tragedy in Brussels' Heysel Stadium. Crowd trouble led to the deaths of 39 Juventus fans and although the team won 1-0 with a Michel Platini penalty, few were interested in the result. Also overshadowed was Trapattoni's achievement of becoming only the second coach to win all three European club competitions, and the first to do so with one club.
Trapattoni won his sixth Serie A title with Juventus in 1985-86, adding the Intercontinental Cup with a penalty shoot-out win over Argentinos Juniors, but he wanted a new challenge. He decided to leave at the end of the season and move to Internazionale, where in 1988-89 he led his new club to the title with a record Serie A points haul. Inter also won the UEFA Cup two years later, edging out Roma in the final, but soon afterwards the chance of a return to Juventus lured him back to Turin.
His second spell with Juve could not match the first, bringing just a single trophy with UEFA Cup success in 1993. In 1994, Trapattoni took the opportunity to coach abroad for the first time. He joined German champions Bayern Munich, but the move soon turned sour with a disappointing sixth place finish in the Bundesliga in 1994-95. Trapattoni returned to Italy with Cagliari, but remarkably was soon given a second chance at Bayern and this time made a real impact in Germany.
In the 1996-97 season he led Bayern to both the League Cup and the Bundesliga title, before a dramatic late comeback against MSV Duisberg clinched the German Cup a year later. Problems began to appear however when Trapattoni publicly criticised his players in a bizarre press conference in March 1998. Many admired his honesty, but it was a sign of his unhappiness at the club and he left at the end of the season to take charge of Fiorentina.
After two years with Fiorentina, Trapattoni was appointed coach of the Italian national team in the summer of 2000. He led them to both the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, but both competitions ended in controversy. In the World Cup, after a winning start against Ecuador Italy stumbled through to face co-hosts South Korea in the last 16. In that match, several decisions went against them and Italy lost to a golden goal, with Trapattoni suggesting that the Koreans were unfairly favoured by the officials.
Two years later, the format of the European Championship meant that after low-scoring draws with Sweden and Denmark, Italy went into their final group game with Bulgaria knowing that if the Scandinavian sides drew 2-2, both would go through regardless of Italy's result. The score was indeed 2-2 and although there was no evidence whatsoever of collusion, Trapattoni's bitterness at his team's exit lasted many years.
His contract having expired, Trapattoni moved to Portugal, joining Benfica. In his only season at the club he led them to the league title and very nearly the double, missing out only when Vitória de Setúbal came from behind to win the cup final 2-1. Wishing to be closer to Italy, he moved to VfB Stuttgart but his return to the Bundesliga was not a happy experience. Amid poor results and criticism from players, he was sacked in Jaunuary 2006 after just seven months in charge.
Trapattoni's next job was with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, where he won yet another championship in 2007 and joined an elite group of coaches to have won titles in four different countries. Midway through the 2007-08 season, he announced that he was making a return to international management with the Republic of Ireland, taking up his position at the end of the league season.
Trapattoni's first task with Ireland was to try to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and after finishing second to Italy in their group, his team faced a play-off against France. Having lost the first leg 1-0 at home, they managed to force extra-time in the return in Paris before a hotly disputed goal, set up by a Thierry Henry handball, send them out. Once again, Trapattoni was on the wrong end of huge controversy in international management.
Two years later he again led Ireland into a qualification play-off, this time for Euro 2012 where Ireland were strong favourites against outsiders Estonia. A 5-1 aggregate win took them to their first major tournament in a decade, but when the finals came around Trapattoni's team appeared to be somewhat out of their depth, losing all three group games.
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- Published on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 00:59