Enzo Bearzot died today after a long illness at the age of 83. Ironically, he passed away on the same date as another great Azzurri manager, Vittorio Pozzo, who remains the only coach to win two World Cups and an Olympic Gold Medal. Bearzot was a native of the Friuli region of Northern Italy. The great Azzurri "mister" orchestrated the improbable triumph of World Cup 1982 in Spain, and made many critics eat their words after the stellar performance of his highly controversial selection of Paolo Rossi.
Playing and Management Career
He played at Inter Milan, Catania and Torino. He had one international appearance for the Azzurri in 1955. When his playing career ended in 1964, he took a few years away from football. He then managed Prato, a Serie C Tuscan side. In 1969, became the Italy U-23 manager. He never managed one of the big sides in Italy, but made an indelible mark on the National team where he was involved from 1975 to 1986.
Bearzot managed the Azzurri a record-setting 104 times. He managed Italy to fourth place at World Cup 1978, third place at Euro 1980 and the World Cup title in 1982. One of his core attributes was the ability to form a strong group who would sacrifice for each other.
Francesco Graziani, Gabriele Oriali and Osvaldo Ardiles
during World Cup 1982. Italy was in a second round "group of death"
with Argentina and Brazil. Then they defeated Poland in the semifinal
and West Germany in the World Cup final.
Bearzot's Azzurri teams were tactically flawless and masters of the counterattack. The 1978 World Cup team was the only side to defeat the host and eventual champion, Argentina. The 1982 World Cup began with three draws, and Italy only passed to the next round due to goal difference with Cameroon. But once to the elimination group of death, they defeated Argentina of a young Diego Maradona, 2 x 1, and in a classic match with the Samba Kings of Brazil, the Azzurri won, 3 x 2 with a hat trick by Paolo Rossi. Bearzot's last tournament with the Azzurri ended in a disappointing early exit in the round of 16 to Michel Platini and France in 1986.
Tributes from Former Players
Paolo Rossi (Was banned from Italian football for two years before World Cup 1982.)
"Enzo Bearzot è stato uno dei grandi italiani del '900, su questo non ho dubbi. Per me è stato come un padre - io a lui devo tutto, senza di lui non avrei fatto quel che ho fatto. Era una persona di una onestà incredibile e un tecnico di grande spessore. Incarnava la figura dell'italiano popolare, e anche se non è stato uno scienziato o un artista, rimarrà nella storia dei nostri grandi del secolo scorso".
"Enzo Bearzot was one of the greatest Italians on the last century. On this, I don't have doubts. For me, he was like a father, I owe everything to him. Without him, I would have never achieved what I did. He was an incredibly honest person and a great tactician. He molded the history of popular Italians, and even if he wasn't a scientist or artist, he will remain in history one of our greats of the last century."Bruno Conti
"Per me era come un padre. A parte il grande tecnico che era, voglio ricordare l'uomo, un grandissimo uomo, con grandi valori. Un uomo stupendo di quelli che non se ne trovano pochi oggi, che insegna i valori importanti della vita".
"For me, he was like a father. Apart from the great manager that he was, I want to remember the man. A great man with great qualities. A stupendous man of whom one doesn't find today. One who taught important values of life."Dino Zoff
"Cristallina la sua onestà".
"His honesty was crystal clear."Antonio Cabrini
"Era determinante sotto l'aspetto umano soprattutto la maniera di gestire la squadra nei momenti extracalcistici. Lui ha vinto molto ma ha vinto di più nella vita, aveva forgiato un gruppo di persone legate che avrebbero fatto tutto per lui. Era un po' Don Chischiotte nell''82, unico di fronte a tutti nei giorni delle polemiche. È nata così l'immagine di un uomo che per i suoi ragazzi dava tutto".
"He was determined under the human aspect above all in his manner to manage a team in off-the-field moments. He won much, but he won more in life. He forged a group of loyal persons who would have done everything for him. He was a little like Don Quijote in 1982. The only one in front of all the controversies every day."Giuseppe Bergomi (He debuted as an 18 year-old at World Cup 1982.)
"Quel gruppo che è riuscito a creare era straordinario, anche chi ha giocato poco lo ricorda benissimo. Io sono entrato in punta di piedi, ho cercato di farmi accettare da loro, lui sapeva mettere insieme le persone, creare queste alchimie non è facile".
"That group (in 1982) that he was able to create was extraordinary. Even those who played very little remember that all to well. I came in on tip toes. I looked to be accepted by them. He knew how to make individuals come together. To create a potion like this isn't easy."Gigi Riva
"È stata per me una persona molto importante. Nel '70 era nello staff con Valcareggi e Maldini e si dedicava molto alla mia condizione fisica, partecipava molto con me a quel Mondiale".
"He was a very important person to me. In 1970, he was on the staff with Fulvio Valcareggi and Cesare Maldini and he dedicated himself a great deal to my physical conditioning. He played a great role with me at the Mexican World Cup."Marcello Lippi
"L'ho anche avuto come allenatore quando fui convocato nell'under 23 azzurro. Poi, nei miei anni da c.t. mi è sempre stato vicino e ha fatto sempre sentire il suo affetto. Sono orgoglioso di stare nella storia del calcio vicino a un grande come Bearzot".
"I had him also as a manager when I was selected for the Italian U-23. Then, during my years as Azzurri boss, he was close to me and always made you feel his affection. I am proud to be in the history of Italian football next to a great man such as Bearzot."Current Azzurri Manager, Cesare Prandelli
"Il coraggio delle sue scelte, delle quali hanno beneficiato giovani talenti del calibro di Cabrini, Rossi, Bergomi - solo per citarne alcuni - ai quali Bearzot dispensava consigli e fiducia, ci ha consegnato una generazione di campioni quasi senza eguali. Ci mancherà e mancheranno al calcio la sua saggezza, l'onesta e il buon senso".
"The courage of his choices, of which many young talents benefited such as Antonio Cabrini, Paolo Rossi and Giuseppe Bergomi only to cite a few, to whom Bearzot dispensed advice and confidence. He gave us a generation of champions without equals. He will be missed and football will miss his wisdom, honesty and good sense."Italian source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 21 Dec. 2010.
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