Giovanni Trapattoni: Ireland’s most popular man - barely speaks English, is not even Irish

Giovanni Trapattoni

The day before Ireland guaranteed qualification for the European finals, with a 1-1 draw at home to Estonia, Trapattoni received a surprise visitor to the team’s base at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links.

Former manager Mick McCarthy, in town to work as an analyst for Sky television, wanted to say hello to one of his successors. He also wanted to say well done.

They shared a coffee in the lounge of the North Dublin hotel and they shared their experiences as manager of a country which demands, never mind expects, its football team to punch above its weight.

Before he left, Mick McCarthy made a small presentation to Giovanni Trapattoni. The bottle of champagne was to mark Ireland’s first qualification for the Euro finals since Big Mick helped beat England in 1988, their first qualification for any finals since McCarthy led Ireland to Japan and Korea in 2002.

Trapattoni appreciated the gesture. He can only hope that the waters leading up to Euro 2012 are calmer for Team Ireland than they were en route to those stormy World Cup finals.