Enzo Bearzot

Enzo Bearzot (Photo from Fifa.com)

Enzo Bearzot was never a tremendous soccer player, but he managed to play at a professional level for many years, mainly with Torino, where he was the captain and even capped one presence for the national team. He had been following a very static and bureaucratic career within the Italian soccer federation when he was appointed coach of the Italian National team. After they qualified for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, he made very clear  he wanted to have a fresh team, made up of young talent.
After a disastrous expedition in Germany in 1974, Italy and its new coach Bearzot surprised the entire world by beating Argentina: they played a phenomenal tournament. Unfortunately, they didn't make it to the final, but they brilliantly classified fourth, laying the groundwork for a promising future.


A short on Enzo Bearzot

The next main event they partecipated to was the European championship hosted by Italy, and great expectations were laid on  Bearzot's  team, which was still surfing the wave of glory of  the previous World Cup. The results unfortunately weren't good, and for a while Bearzot's position as coach was under threat; the main criticism made to the team was it lacked the maturity and the character to win an international tournament. As the 1982 World Cup approached, the team's morale and enthusiasm seemed to ride low, Bearzot's coaching skills were under scrutiny, and the media had set up a negative campaign against his choices. Bearzot replied with total silence: the team went on total press silence and concentrated on preparing for the World Cup in Spain.  Italy gained strength and ultimately won the tournament, becoming world champion for the third time in its history. Bearzot became a national hero. Italians will always remember the historic  game of "Scopone Scientifico" played on the flight back to Italy after the final, by Bearzot and the president of the republic at the time, Sandro Pertini, with whom the the Italian coach shared a love for smoking the pipe.


Above Italy - Brasil 1982

Bearzot's stubbornness and sense of tactics  had ultimately paid off, as Italy was on the top of the world for the first time since 1938. New, fresh money came into the Italian league, which was the best in the world for well over a decade. Bearzot had more in mind for the team and, due to his success, he could not be denied to lead Italy into the next European Championship. However, fate and a lack of enthusiasm forced Italy out of the tournament finals, and the World Champions had to actually follow the entire championship on TV. Criticism was not harsh, but a strong desire for change was truly felt by supporters and press.  Bearzot seemed to be too attached to his "senators",the players who had won the cup in 1982 and done so well in 1978. As the 1986 World Cup in Mexico grew closer, new players were needed. Indeed, Bearzot called some fresh talent to the be part of the national team, but the squad's structure was still based on the older crew and the game became static and predictable. Italy managed to pass the first round, but was then defeated by France 2-0, in a game that basically ended Bearzot's career and opened the doors for Azeglio Vicini and his under 21 team, ready to replace the old champions.


World Cup final 1982 Italy vs Germany

Bearzot never coached again and went back to desk jobs and TV appearances, mainly offered as gratitude for his 1982 success. His undiscussed experience as a coach was often requested by other trainers, who would seek his advice. Even Marcello Lippi, who brought the cup back to Italy after 24 years, conversed with him about the national team and its psychological motivation.

Channel: 
Images: