Giovanni Trapattoni will urge his Ireland players to seize the moment in Estonia next month – after Italy’s cruel reminder about the precarious nature of top class sport.
Like all Italians, Trapattoni has mourned the death of 24-year-old Moto GP star Marco Simoncelli who died after an horrific crash at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Trapattoni watched Simoncelli’s sad funeral on television before flying to Ireland to announce his squad for the Euro 2012 play-offs in Tallinn and Dublin.
The fatal crash in Sepang and the tragic scenes which followed at Simoncelli’s funeral served only to remind the deeply religious Trapattoni of sport’s fickleness.
“You must seize the opportunity, in life and in sport,” said Trapattoni ahead of the play-off games that will decide Ireland’s Euro hopes and his hopes of a new contract.
“We have just seen this in Italy with the fantastic young rider in the motorbike race. He goes down in the accident and there are two bikes right behind him.
“There is the situation which he could not control despite all his experience. You have to take whatever life offers you.”
Trapattoni will repeat that message when his international squad gather in Dublin next Sunday for what will be the last throw of the European Championship dice for many of his squad.
Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff are already in last chance saloon as far as the Euros are concerned.
Even the youngsters will be reminded by their manager that opportunity doesn’t always come knocking in international football. Trap should know.
“When I went to the 1962 World Cup I was at the top of my game and I thought there would be lots of World Cups and lots of European Championships,” added Trapattoni.
“I was with Milan, we would become the first team to win the European Cup at Wembley. I was at the World Cup. It was all ahead of me, I was young and this was my moment.
“By the 1966 World Cup I was selected for the squad but I was injured and could not play. I know you have to take this opportunity.
“My players know this as well and I will tell them again. I know they know because they were nervous and anxious before the Armenia match.
“They were quiet in the dressing-room. They knew how big the game was for them and for Ireland. It will be the same against Estonia.
“They know this is our great opportunity. We have the two games and we need to win the two games. We need to have the right mentality.”
Still a sprightly 72, Trap insists he is as excited as his players about the prospects of guiding Ireland to Euro 2012. And he doesn’t care how he gets there.
“I have told you many times that there is the opera show at La Scala in Milan and there is the result – Estonia is not La Scala,” insisted Europe’s most successful club manager.
“We will watch only for the result against Estonia. We will respect them and we will have the right mentality against them because anything else is dangerous. But this is about the result.
“I have a fantastic job with Ireland. I am learning all the time. I am getting better as a manager with every new situation but now we must grasp this situation, we must take this opportunity and get the result we want.
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