In charge of Italy since 30 May 2010, Claudio Cesare Prandelli started out as a midfielder and had a fairly modest playing career, most notably contesting 89 games for Juventus over the space of six seasons.
As a coach, the elegant 55-year-old from Lombardy cut his teeth in a seven-year spell with Atalanta, but his emphasis on youth and attacking football really began to yield results during his stints with Parma and Fiorentina. His five seasons with I Viola were particularly successful, and he was voted Serie A coach of the year in 2006 and 2007.
Prandelli's achievements at the Stadio Artemio Franchi earned him selection as Italy boss in 2010, when La Squadra Azzurra were licking their wounds following their group stage exit at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. To get the team clicking again, the new man in charge placed his trust in two senior figures, bringing Antonio Cassano back into the fold after he missed the trip to South Africa and naming goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as captain. At the same time, he blooded a whole raft of youngsters, gradually making several of them permanent fixtures in the side, while introducing a strict code of ethics which states that "no player guilty of aggressive or unsporting play will be called up by the national team".
Despite the emphasis on discipline, Prandelli has shown plenty of patience with gifted striker Mario Balotelli, who has finally started to blossom on the international stage under his tutelage. "When you're dealing with a talent like his, you simply have to be patient," explained the coach. "Then the moment comes when that talent has to take on responsibility. This is the moment. I have to compliment him on his calm attitude, his belief and his bravery."
Although he will be deprived of numerous players as the FIFA Confederations Cup clashes with the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Prandelli hopes to make the most of the tournament to galvanise his squad before next year's global showcase.
His contract expires after Brazil 2014, but so far Prandelli has proved a universally popular appointment, eliciting praise from his employers, players and Italy fans alike, with supporters across the country admiring his efforts to lead La Nazionale back to the forefront of the game.