Sunday, June 02, 2002

Crafty Italy coach ready for World Cup exam



By TOM RACHMAN
Associated Press Writer

        SENDAI, Japan — It's exam time, and Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who has won just about everything in soccer except the World Cup, is ready.

        His squad's first test against Ecuador is Monday.

        “I was never much taken with exams,” the tongue-twisting wizard of Italian coaching said Saturday. “We've always managed to sneak through, and this time we've done everything necessary to get ready.

        “Let's hope we don't get any questions we can't answer,” he added with a smirk.

        In the past, very little has stumped Trapattoni.

        As a midfielder with AC Milan in the 1960s and early 1970s, he won two Italian League titles, one Italian Cup, two European Cups, one Cup-Winners' Cup and an Intercontinental Super Cup, as well as playing with the national team.

        His coaching record is equally impressive:

        — With Juventus in the 1970s and 1980s, he won six Italian League championships, two Italian Cups, one European Cup, a Cup-Winners' Cup, a UEFA Cup, and other titles;

        — With Inter Milan, he won the Italian championship and a UEFA Cup;

        — At Bayern Munich, he won the German championship and a German Cup.

        Now, he has a strong national squad working for him. And with France losing to Senegal on Friday, Italy is considered one of the World Cup favorites.

        After running several of the best European clubs, he recognizes there is even more exposure — and pressure — in his current post.

        “The national team is a point of reference in my past. If I hadn't lived it, I wouldn't be here,” he said. “I know what obligation this brings.

        “Without doubt, having this obligation, one feels proud. Most Italians live on this team, live on its results.

        “It's a great honor.”

        Trapattoni did have to deal with reports of a spat between team members Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella. He said those reports were greatly exaggerated.

        The difficulties began early last week after Totti failed to mention striker Montella among his top choices for a spot in Italy's attack. Montella seemed disappointed, saying he was “surprised” by Totti's words.

        But Trapattoni said he spoke to the two players and that peace reigned in the Italy camp.

        “That argument wasn't even real — it was a simple statement by Totti. There was no malice,” he said.

        Trapattoni, known in Italy as “Trap,” is not just a magician on the sidelines. He's also a wizard with words. Some say the spells he casts with language are a little mystifying — so much so that Italians call his peculiar language “Trapattonese.”

        But seeing the glint in his light-blue eyes, one can't help wonder if he's doing it on purpose. No one doubts the 63-year-old's wisdom and cunning. And his charisma and energy with the team — running and kicking the ball alongside players 40 years his junior — commands respect.

        Trapattoni is undoubtedly prepared for this test. But he's too smart to make any promises.

        “Nothing's sure in life,” he said. “Only birth and death — that's the only certainty.”

       



Sports Stories
DAUGHERTY: World Cup? Wake us when it's over
- Crafty Italy coach ready for World Cup exam
Denmark 2, Uruguay 1
Germany 8, Saudi Arabia 0
Ireland 1, Cameroon 1
Senegal players still buzzed after upset
Senegal upset buoys Americans
World Cup notebook
World Cup TV schedule
CRC has plenty to keep you busy
Unique way to give back
Yasutoko brothers steal inline show
Agassi rolls into fourth round in Paris
French Open notes
D'Amico falls from mount in sixth race; horse euthanized
McArdle wins $500,000 New Jersey Classic
O'Brien thinks the Nets will win NBA title
Wild West series comes down to Game 7
Green wants wins in Indy and Milwaukee
Kenseth loses No. 1 start because of blown engine
Ky. Busch race draws NASCAR president
Norman falters; Burns, Estes share Kemper Open lead
Coming up this week
Enquirer Page Two power rankings
Golf results
Holyfield beats Rahman in 8th round stoppage
Hurricanes say they won't change for talented Red Wings
NCAA baseball regionals scores, schedule
Saturday's NCAA baseball roundup

Braves 7, Reds 1
Reds box, runs
What's not to love about JUNIOR?
Draft: Reds struck gold in '98
Reds Q & A
Baseball 90210
Castro fills the gap in depth of infield
Cinergy Countdown - July 25, 1974
On the farm
Reds chatter
Toledo 8, Louisville 2
Baseball notebook
NL roundup
AL roundup
Notes from Saturday's games
John Fay's MLB power rankings
Bengals Q & A
QB Warner gives health thumbs up
Milford making school history
State trip Anderson's first
Braves take state lacrosse championship
Doubles the fun for St. X
Comptons claim coveted title
Hamilton has return date at state
Hanners riddles McNicholas
Kenton Ridge 9, Waynesville 0
Lawrence North claims second straight Indiana boys track championship
Ohio boys track and field
Ohio girls track and field
Baseball pairings, results
Softball pairings, results
Kentucky boys track
Kentucky girls track
Kentucky state tennis