Saturday December 12 2015
Lippi: 'Calciopoli helped Italy'

Marcello Lippi is “ready to get back to work” and looks back on his time at Juventus, Inter and why Calciopoli helped win the World Cup.

The former Azzurri boss sat down with the Corriere dello Sport for a lengthy interview, in which he covered many topics, including the future.

“After China I said that I wanted to retire,” confessed the 67-year-old ex-Guangzhou Evergrande Coach.

“However, after a while I realised that I watched games as if I was still on the bench, with the same emotional connection. I realised the true nature of my fatigue – I couldn’t stay far away from home anymore.

“It’s true, I want to get back to being a Coach and if something interesting arrives then I will evaluate it openly.”

He has already been linked with the job at Lazio should Stefano Pioli get the sack and was recently spotted in the stands for one of their games.

Lippi also cast his eye over his dominant Juventus side of the 1990s, who won everything from Scudetto to Champions League and Intercontinental Cup.

“When I arrived Juve hadn’t won anything for 10 years. I changed their mentality and we made new tactical choices. I too had won nothing before coming to Juve, but in one year I had everything.”

One of the biggest setbacks in his career was the brief spell at Inter from 1999 to October 2000.

“It was a contradictory experience. My Juventus connection irritated people and I defended it, but then I realised it wasn’t the right atmosphere.

“So I went to President Massimo Moratti and told him it was better to just end it there. He seemed to agree, but then he called and even came in person with Marco Tronchetti Provera to convince me to stay.

“The new season started badly and we were knocked out of the Champions League preliminary round. I told the squad that if I was the President, I’d have fired the Coach and kicked all the players. I was sacked.”

Lippi returned to Juventus and resumed his successful streak before taking over the Italy squad in 2004 and taking them to World Cup glory in the middle of one of the most turbulent periods in Serie A history.

“I had a fantastic group of players. In a way, the Calciopoli scandal helped the team to become even more united.

“In the Final, it wasn’t the first time Zinedine Zidane had done something like that. He had also head-butted a Hamburg player when he was at Juve. Zidane is a great person and this cannot be cancelled out by one big mistake.”

The Coach tried another comeback to the Azzurri for the 2010 World Cup, only to be eliminated in the group stage.

“We had many injuries, but the truth is we got it all wrong and that’s all there is to it.”

Lippi was asked about the current crop of Serie A tacticians and pointed to two emerging Italian talents.

“I am impressed by Eusebio Di Francesco, who is giving Sassuolo a sense of character, a great style of football and confidence.

“Then there’s Maurizio Sarri, who proved you don’t need years to put your imprint on a team. In just a few months Napoli no longer leak goals the way they used to and in fact score even more with some fantastic football.”

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