If Fabio Capello collects art in his private life, in his professional life it is silverware.
As a midfielder with Roma, Juventus and AC Milan, the future England manager won four Serie A titles and two Italian Cups.
After stepping into coaching, he achieved even greater success. In 15 seasons as a club coach he won the league title with AC Milan, AS Roma and Juventus in Italy, and Real Madrid in Spain.
Wherever he has gone, he has left the stamp of a winner. At Milan in the early 1990s, he maintained the winning machine set up by Arrigo Sacchi.
With Roma, he oversaw a first Serie A success in 18 years. He guided Madrid to the Spanish Liga summit in two separate year-long stays a decade apart.
By then he had already claimed the biggest prize in European club football, the UEFA Champions League, in 1994 when his Milan side shattered Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona ‘Dream Team’ 4-0 in Athens.
Capello, in short, is a serial winner and now his goal is the holy grail of world football, the FIFA World Cup™.
As the Italian said when taking the reins of an England side that had failed even to qualify for UEFA EURO 2008: “England has a great team that can go right to the top."
His first match in charge brought a nervy 2-1 win over Switzerland in February 2008. By the end of 2009, though, he had overseen an impressive qualification campaign, England securing their place in South Africa with two games to spare.
Capello’s charges were Europe’s highest scorers, a measure of their improvement the 4-1 and 5-1 defeats of Croatia, his predecessor Steve McClaren’s nemesis in EURO qualifying.
His 22 games in those first two years brought 15 wins with the only losses sustained against France, Spain, Brazil and, with qualification already assured, Ukraine.
As a player Capello was known as the Geometra (Surveyor) for the precise lines of his passing and he has introduced a hitherto absent degree of discipline into the England set-up. Players know there are lines that cannot be crossed – with strict rules, for instance, on mobile phone use, team dress, and dining together.
Capello’s aim is to create a team ethic but he has shown no inclination to become pally with players. As Paolo Di Canio, who played under him for Milan, once said: “He’s not there to be your friend. He’s there to be your boss.”
Ever the pragmatist, his exclusion of Michael Owen showed a desire to select players on form alone rather than reputation.
A serious, often terse figure in press briefings, he underlined his no-nonsense approach when he took swift action in February to strip John Terry of the captaincy over negative publicity surrounding his private life.
Capello – who turns 64 on 18 June, the date England play Slovenia – once scored the goal that earned Italy their first victory at Wembley Stadium. Half a lifetime later, he is seeking to guide England to their first international success away from that same venue.
Rio Ferdinand, his captain, says the Italian’s presence at the helm brings the belief England can do just that: "He's been successful in every country he's been in. He knows what it takes to win and that's what we needed for England.”