Without doubt the biggest star in Italian women's football, a recent survey revealed that Carolina Morace’s fame goes way beyond the confines of her sport. For her fellow Italians, Morace is one of the most famous women in the long history of her nation, ranking alongside such illustrious names as Saint Catherine of Siena, philosopher Maria Montessori, La Scala Ballet School founder Carla Fracci and actress Sophia Loren.
For many football fans, Morace is remembered as the first ever woman to coach a professional men's team. That said, she has never quite enjoyed the same level of adulation – or financial recompense - as her male counterparts in a country crazy about Calcio. "It's true that I haven't earned anywhere near as much money as the men, but I've always enjoyed doing what I love - playing football," explained the former striker an interview a few years ago.
Four goals at Wembley
The Venice-born former striker can nonetheless look back on an enormously successful career which began when she was just 14. Over the next 20 years she celebrated twelve Italian titles with eight different clubs, as well as four Italian Cup triumphs and over 500 goals, four of which came in one memorable match against England at Wembley in 1990.
Morace captained the Italian national team for over a decade, competing at the first ever FIFA Women's World Cup™ in China in 1991 and subsequently leading the Azzurre to two runners-up finishes at the UEFA Women's European Championship. Yet in spite of all her success and hard work on the field, the temperamental goalgetter somehow found time to complete a law degree in 1996.
Honesty and hard work
Morace's first job as a coach came with the women's team at Serie A club Lazio, where she also spent time training the club's male reserve team. Despite her evident wealth of experience, there was no lack of astonishment in June 1999 when owner of men's Serie C side Viterbese Luciano Gaucci offered her the position of first-team coach.
"I may be the first woman to take such a position, but it's nothing extraordinary. I'm here because I've worked hard," said a typically confident Morace at the time of the appointment. Ultimately, her stay with the third division club turned out to be a brief one. Morace resigned after just two games in charge, the first a 5-2 defeat to Crotone, citing "too much interference" from Gaucci.
High hopes with Canada
Morace's dreams of a successful career in the dugout were soon revived, however, as Luciano Nizzola, President of the Italian FA, offered her the job as coach of the Italian women's national team. "The appointment of Carolina is just one part of a much larger project," explained Nizzola at the time. "We want to give women's football more focus, because at the moment everything is compared to the men's game."
"I've always said it would be the ultimate achievement to coach a national team, whether a youth or senior squad, women's or men's. I've given a lot to the national team and received plenty in return," said Morace. The 153-time international remained at the helm of the Azzurre for five years between 2000 and 2005, before taking the reins of the Canadian women's national team in 2009 until she resigned after Germany 2011.