Alberto Zaccheroni established himself in Serie A, with his unique tactics producing impressive performances from several Italian top flight clubs. After doing just that at Udinese, he moved west to take over at AC Milan. Along with new signing and then-German national team striker Oliver Bierhoff from Udinese, Zaccheroni won his first league title with AC Milan in 1998/99 season, characterised by his unique three-man defensive tactics.

After spells with several other Italian heavyweights, Zaccheroni took over the Japan national team from Takeshi Okada, who suprised some at FIFA World Cup 2010™ by reaching the knock-out stages. The Italian’s first time on the touchline was a friendly match with South American giants Argentina at home in October 2010. Despite facing world class talents such as Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, the Samurai Blue secured victory thanks to a solitary goal by Shinji Okazaki.

In 2011, Zaccheroni appeared at his first international tournament as national team coach; the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. His rejuvenated squad achieved great success, with players who missed out on South Africa 2010 playing key role in them taking the title. Zaccheroni designated Maya Yoshida, who is currently playing for England Premier League club Southampton, as the leader of the defensive line, while opting for then-Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa as their major force in attacking midfield. Facing Australia in the final, they prevailed in their toughest test of the tournament, with striker Tadanari Lee - another of Zaccheroni's new inclusions - scoring a dramatic volley in extra-time.