by Leighton Cullen
With well over 50 years in football Euro 2012 will see Giovanni Trapattoni lead out the Republic of Ireland in Poland and Ukraine. By doing so he becomes the oldest manager to ever manage a team at the tournament.
Trap learn his trade at Milan before going to one of their main rivals in Juventus and turning them into the stellar side of their generation. During his ten year tenure he won a whopping 14 titles including 6 league titles 2 Italian Cups, a European Cup, Cup Winners Cup and Uefa Cup. He won everything you could win in football at Juve and will go down as the greatest manager ever in the grand old lady’s history.
Seeking a fresh challenge Trap took his successful brand of football to the San Siro and Inter Milan where a further Serie A title and Uefa Cup triumph were the highlights of his five years in charge. He then tried to disprove the old axiom about never revisiting former glories by returning to Juve but alas his second spell soon turned sour as they – along with everyone else – struggled to cope with a Van Basten-inspired Milan.
In 1994, with little silverware to show for his rekindled Turin love affair he set off on a German adventure.
His first spell at Bayern ended within one season and Trap was out the door and back to Italy with Cagliari offering him salvation. However, the call from Munich brought him swiftly back to Bavaria and his second spell proved far more prosperous as Bayern won the league and cup double.
A brief stint at Fionentina paved the way for his dream role and the call he had long yearned for – Trapattoni took over the Azzurri.
His spell with Italy was overall a frustrating experience and certainly paled to his club record. He brought Italy to both the European and World Cup finals but failed both times when more was expected of him and of his squad of players. In 2004 he was fired from the job because quite simply he wasn’t good enough but then went on to redeem his reputation overseeing league winning sides in Portugal and Austria.
In 2008, with nearly forty years of managerial nous and experience behind him, he was offered his toughest assignment of all – to get Ireland to a major championship.
His time at Ireland has been a mixed bag. His style of football has been the same from day one and it was only down to extreme misfortune that he missed out on guiding Ireland to the World Cup thanks to the hand of Henry. Stubbornly he persisted and now finally he has achieved his target and got the job done with Ireland eagerly looking forward to their first European Championships since ‘88.
His brand of football will be old school and hard to beat with the hope to get a goal and hold onto what we have got. He will set out his trap hoping that he will catch out some of the less experienced coaches Ireland will face in the Euros.
Will the dinosaur of football roll back the years of the glory days of Juve? I doubt it very much but he will prepare the team for everything and will set them up well. Who knows, football is a funny game and it would be great to see this legend of world football rolling back the years and having a great tournament and shocking the continent like Greece did.
So can Trap out-fox the young guns? Nobody knows but he will give it his best shot.