Giovanni Trapattoni has vowed to make up for past disappointments when he returns to the big stage with Ireland in Poland this Sunday.
Trapattoni experienced bad luck, bad refereeing decisions and bad fortune as Italian manager at both the 2002 World Cup and the 2004 European Championships.
He has won everything there is to win as a club boss, but feels he has unfinished business at international level ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia in Poznan.
Now 73, Trapattoni told Irish Sun on Sunday, “It’s okay to say, ‘I did well’ but you must continue to do well. At home, I have all of the awards that I won on the wall in my office but it doesn’t matter.
“It’s the next games which matter. You can write a great article but that’s not enough. You must do it again tomorrow and again the next day.
“People say I belong to the past. That’s life but I can tell you that I know more and more. I have improved from 10 years ago and certainly from the time when I had players like Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek.
“I have shown that it is possible to win without these big players but with other players. A newspaper can sell without having the best reporters and this is our team.
“I have improved, improved and improved some more. I know more now and I continue to discover new things, the little details, which help this team.
“And I’m still hungry about what I can achieve. Sometimes I watch games in England and I think, why is it not possible for managers to understand this when I see something happening.
“And it’s not just the young managers I think this about, the old ones too. You must have 360-degree vision as manager so you see everything and learn from it.”
Trapattoni insisted in the interview that even he is still learning and still takes great pleasure from his job.
He added, “This is what I do, this is my job. Have I changed Irish football? No.
“The players learn different things at their clubs and some of them change club more often than the wind changes direction.
“What I do is teach them something different and show them what else they can do. For example, I have had great satisfaction working with a player like James McClean.
“He or any other player can’t ever say I don’t show them what to do. I do.”
The Italian is also delighted that qualification for the Euros has repaid the FAI’s faith in him.
He said, “I am happy because I have repaid those who had belief in me. They thought I could do a good job and it has gone well.
“We deserved to qualify for the World Cup, it did not happen because of a strange situation and we deserved to qualify this time.”
Asked about Ireland’s chances this summer, he declared, “Anything can happen. In 1992 Denmark were on holiday and they got called back when a team could not play in the tournament and they won.
“In the Champions League final, Chelsea were missing important players and Bayern Munich. Would you bet on Chelsea or Bayern? Bayern of course but Chelsea won.
“There is the moment when a team can be close to their optimum level, at 99% and special things can happen.
“I think we were at that level when we played in Paris. We did not lose because we weren’t good enough. The France coach Raymond Domenech said to me, ‘Giovanni, this is football.’
“Bad things can happen but we showed our capabilities in that game and we can show them again. It’s not a question for us of dreaming but believing in what we can do.
“Perhaps we will be underestimated by the opposition. That’s OK, maybe it’s a good thing for us. But I have been a coach for more than 30 years and I know we’re a good team with a solid base and I know we can do well.”
A Good Run
Ireland are now just three games short of a record run of 17 matches unbeaten achieved during the Jack Charlton era – and they would achieve that at the Euros.
Wins or draws against Croatia, Spain and Italy in the group games would extend the current run to 17 after Monday night’s scoreless draw in Hungary.
Defender John O’Shea, fit again after recent ankle problems, told the Irish Sun, “It’s a piece of cake! It’ll be no problem to us, just stay unbeaten in the group!
“It would be a fantastic way to do it and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. We’ve talked about the belief the team has, the squad has and the belief that the manager has given us as well.
“The run is something we’re proud of, obviously, but we know as well that we’re going to have to take our chances. We had a little bit of luck defensively against Hungary and we’re going to have to take our chances, too.”
After missing out at the 2002 World Cup despite late calls for his inclusion in Mick McCarthy’s squad, O’Shea can’t wait for the big kick-off on Sunday.