- Roberto Di Matteo explains why Italy are so good at producing coaches
- Former Chelsea boss tips Cristiano Ronaldo to remain The Best FIFA Men's Player
- Feels "you can never get bored of" London, ahead of awards show in English capital
It is safe to say there is quite the Italian flavour to The Best FIFA Men’s Coach award this year. Only two Tricolore tacticians had previously been among the finalists for FIFA's men's coaching award in its entire history. This year that tally has doubled.
With Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte following hot on the heels of compatriot Claudio Ranieri, who scooped the 2016 prize, the crown could again be another feather in the cap for the nation who pride themselves so much on coaching acumen. Even the third challenger, Zinedine Zidane, having spent five years at Juventus, carries a few Italian fingerprints on his current successes.
Having climbed to the upper echelons of club football in impressive fashion at the helm of Chelsea, lifting the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, Roberto Di Matteo knows a thing or two about both Italians and successful coaches – particularly ones based at Stamford Bridge, as in Conte’s case.
Chatting to* FIFA.com, one thing he felt was key in their production of high-class *allenatori is the quality of teaching they get. “There is good schooling and good education as a coach and a player in Italy, giving them a deep understanding of the game,” he explained.
“Growing up in Italy and going through the education to become a coach certainly is something that is part of the fact of why Italian coaches are so good. Playing in Italy enhances your tactical awareness, too, and that helps.”
And with such a distinguished record of names occupying the dugout over the years - Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, Marcelo Lippi and Carlo Ancelotti to name just a smattering of supporting cases - Di Matteo thinks the country has found a winning rhythm.
“It seems that Italy has a history of producing good coaches and managers, so maybe it’s just one of those things that it’s a country that has a feel for it and knows how to do it," Di Matteo said.
Roberto backs Ronaldo
While he may be lacking in countrymen among the race for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award, the former midfielder gave the trio in contention – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar – his stamp of approval. “I’m not surprised, I probably expected it to be these three,” he explained.
“Obviously, Messi and Ronaldo have been nominated for many, many years now and deserve to be there, and Neymar is just behind them. I don’t think he quite has the chance to out-vote the other two, and choosing between Messi and Ronaldo is very difficult. Looking at who has had the most successful year, though, I would say Ronaldo, who has had a wonderful season.”
All three of them will be descending on London this weekend and Di Matteo – who has enjoyed many facets of what the city has to offer, having previously owned restaurants among its bustling nightlife – believes they are in for a treat.
“It’s a cosmopolitan city that offers so much for every kind of taste,” he said, ahead of the FIFA Football Awards show at the London Palladium on 23 October. “You can never get bored of it as there’s so much to do. It seems the majority of people that come and visit fall in love with it.”