Giovanni Trapattoni: Ireland’s most popular man - barely speaks English, is not even Irish
He’s Italian, a grandfather and he has won Irish hearts for ever
completed the win over Estonia and gave the country a reason to talk positively about Europe for once.
“The farmer lives his daily life with the consciousness of sacrifice and work, hard work.
“In practise and in reality, that is how farmers live. Before the game against Estonia, I received a very beautiful SMS from a friend back in Italy.
“It said ‘experience is the mother of all science’. The farmer’s life is the same thing. I appreciate it, I understand it. It is one of the reasons why I like Ireland, the Irish people. They know we must work hard.
“My attitude comes because I am the son of a farmer, I am old and that is clear. My experience in life tells me that, as a philosopher once again, there are only three certainties in the life. You are born, you live and you die. That is the only three certain situations. The others can change.”
Trapattoni’s ability to change the outcome of a football match is exactly what endeared him to the FAI four years ago when they called time on the Steve Staunton experiment and went looking for a manager with a proven track record.
Prompted by Eddie Jordan in early 2008, billionaire Denis O’Brien provided the finance necessary to lure the veteran Italian, winner of every club competition in Europe, even though at first he thought the Irish job was a lost cause.
“I have a professional reputation and I cannot destroy that, I am no idiot,” insisted Trapattoni recently. “I have improved Ireland, I know that. We saw the DVDs and the results from previous games. From Cyprus. It is all about results.
“I was with Inter, with Italy, in Portugal and Germany. I cannot destroy the reputation I have built. I myself have a professional responsibility and I cannot damage that.”
Taking Ireland to next summer’s European finals has ensured his reputation is safe but don’t expect any free-flowing football when Ireland return to the big stage. Like Jack Charlton before him, Trapattoni knows one way and only one way to play football. Approaching 73 next St Patrick’s Day, he is not going to change.
The show, as Trap also states regularly, can be found at La Scala in Milan. The result is everything for this Italian purist. “If you want the show, you go to the opera,” he says, playing air violin in the process.
“The football history will not tell you about the show, only about the result.”
Whatever about his style of play – and Euro qualification will paint over many cracks - Giovanni Trapattoni is a charming man, a Jack Charlton with charisma if you like.
His personality is warm and engaging. His smile is infectious. His language, a mixture of English and Trapattoni known by Irish journalists as Trappish, is always colourful. Ball is ball, ball is round, football is football – these are just some of the regular gems.
Fluent in Pidgin English, he loves to quote Italian sayings, even if they make no sense whatsoever when he asks interpreter Manuela Spignelli to translate.
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