They said it: Giovanni Trapattoni
Always immaculately turned out, with his silver hair carefully combed into place, Giovanni Trapattoni is a man who commands respect without needing to brandish his CV.
The list of his achievements is no less impressive, however, the Italian having overseen eight clubs - namely Juventus, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Cagliari, Fiorentina, Benfica, Stuttgart and Salzburg - and the national teams of Italy, Republic of Ireland and Vatican City in over 40 years of coaching. During that time, he has lifted 22 trophies, most notably winning ten league titles in four different countries.
Perhaps above all, the Italian tactician stands out as one of the game’s great characters and a fountain of knowledge, not to mention a superb raconteur and a crafter of memorable statements.
To mark his 80th birthday, FIFA.com looks back over some of his most unforgettable declarations from down the years.
"I’m not interested in what I’ve done but in what I’m still going to achieve. Like the philosopher said, ‘man’s strength lies in the future.’” On his accomplishments
"My wife never stops asking me: ‘When are you finally going to retire?’ Each time, I tell her: ‘One day’.” …to his wife Paola’s eternal chagrin
“At 79 years old, the time has arrived to say ‘enough’ to the bench. Peacefully. And my wife has told me: ‘If you go, I’m changing the locks and you’re not getting back in’.” When he finally did call time on his career in 2018
"If the world starts moving twice as quickly, you have to adapt and change your rhythm. Fighting against the internet is a waste of time; you might as well take advantage of what it has to offer. In the same way, it’s useless to miss how football was played in past eras.” An ability to adapt has been the secret of his longevity
"Football has changed a lot in the last ten years. Players no longer think twice before moving somewhere else and to all four corners of Europe. Dressing rooms have become cultural exchange centres. I think football is a laboratory for globalisation.” An Italian in charge of Republic of Ireland – truly an international phenomenon
"You need experience and a good knowledge of international football to be able to succeed in different environments. You have to adapt to the language, the food, the customs of the country and, above all, you must never improvise to get yourself accepted. Otherwise, you end up like a bull in a china shop.” Reflecting on his stint with Salzburg, whom he led to the Austrian title in 2006/07
"Experience is back in fashion. Personally, I think that football is like a big school. There’s always something to learn. People like myself or Alex Ferguson have just spent a little bit more time sitting on benches than the other pupils.” The voice of experience
"When I was told I was going to make my Serie A debut for Milan against Spal back in the '60s, I had a fever, but I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to miss the train that was waiting for me – I didn’t know if it would ever come by again.” Remembering his first steps in the game
"[Alessandro] Del Piero is one of those players who will be remembered like [Silvio] Piola or [Giampiero] Boniperti, and not just in football almanacs.” Trapattoni shows his respect for Il Pinturicchio
"Enzo Bearzot was the Garibaldi of football. With his own group of loyal followers, like Garibaldi’s Mille, he united Italy by winning the 1982 World Cup when no-one believed it was possible.” A homage and a comparison between two Italian heroes
"While following football, I’ve seen our country grow and prosper.” As passionate about his homeland as he is about the game
"To win today, we needed one man. In fact, more than just a man - I’d say a Man with a capital M” Following Inter’s 2-1 UEFA Cup loss to Rapid Vienna in 1990/91, his side having been deprived of Lothar Matthaus through injury
"The ball is a beautiful thing, but you mustn’t forget this: it’s also full of air.” An eloquent attempt to deflate big heads and manage egos
"I’m not [Gina] Lollobrigida, nor am I Marilyn Monroe. I don’t deserve so much attention, even if I do have a great behind of my own!” Still taking care of his appearance at 72
"This challenge reminds me of the Milan derbies when my Inter side took on Milan and their phenomenal players [Marco] van Basten, [Ruud] Gullit and [Frank] Rijkaard, with [Arrigo] Sacchi in the dugout. Technically, they were untouchable, but just look who came out on top more often than not. My Inter team had real bite and then some. As a player, Trap faced Pele without fear. I was reckless and courageous. That’s how I see my Ireland team.” Ahead of Republic of Ireland’s South Africa 2010 play-off against France