Marcello Lippi reveals he turned down an offer from Real Madrid and “it was a mistake” to quit Italy in 2006.
Now the Coach of Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, he sat down with Spanish newspaper Marca.
“Winning is always important and rarely down to chance. You can be lucky once, maybe twice, but victories are the rewards for daily hard work.
“Winning the League title and Asian Cup was very satisfying, comparable to my success with Juventus. Only one triumph is beyond compare and that is the 2006 World Cup, the greatest moment of my career.”
Lippi left the Italy squad after that tournament and returned in 2008, but ended the disappointing second spell at the 2010 World Cup with a first round exit.
“I won the World Cup and left. That was a mistake. I should’ve stayed. Many players think if I had stayed, then we would’ve won Euro 2008 as well. I returned out of loyalty to those players, but it wasn’t the same anymore, as many of them were at the end of their careers by that point.
“At the end of the year I will retire, but only with regards to club football. I don’t want to sit at home. I could become the Coach of China, for example, or some other national team. I no longer have the strength to Coach every day, whereas the tempo is more relaxed with a national team.”
Lippi took the opportunity to correct Marca on a few misconceptions Spanish football fans have about Italy.
“Catenaccio doesn’t exist anymore and nobody in Italy talks about it. If you do, then it means you are in bad faith or misinformed.
“I remember I played the World Cup semi-final with four forwards on the pitch: Totti, Iaquinta, Del Piero and Gilardino. My teams are attacking, so enough of talking about catenaccio. My Juventus dominated for five years, during which we often tore apart Spanish sides.
“I love Spanish football and Real Madrid called me twice, but I couldn’t go because I was at Juventus. When you are at Juve, you cannot think of anything else,” smiled Lippi.
“If Italy have won the World Cup four times, it must mean something. Brazil are the symbol of beautiful football, but only won it once more than Italy and that was on penalties, so luck was involved.
“Italy have always been competitive, whereas Spain haven’t over the decades. Clearly the current Spanish football is excellent, as Luis Aragones changed their mentality.
“For the World Cup in Brazil I see Germany as the favourites, then the hosts, followed by Spain, Italy, France and Holland. Cesare Prandelli is doing a great job and Italy can be the surprise of the tournament.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.