Fabio Capello has revealed he turned down the Italy job when it was vacated by Antonio Conte and warned against complacency in Liechtenstein. Capello guided AC Milan to four Serie A crowns and UEFA Champions League glory – a side comprising Paolo Maldini, Marcel Desailly, Zvonimir Boban and Dejan Savicevic thrashed favourites Barcelona 4-0 in the final in Athens – in his first stint as a coach. The San Canzian d'Isonzo native also led Real Madrid and Roma to league titles, and spent seven years in international football in charge of England and Russia.
Capello was consistently tipped to succeed Conte until Giampiero Ventura was announced as the new coach.
“I did have some contact with Italy, but I said no because I don’t feel the desire to work with the Nazionale,” said the 32-times-capped former midfielder. “I wish the new coach all the best and am glad he’s doing something different. It’s a Nazionale full of youngsters.”
Italy are second in Group G in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying, behind Spain on goal difference and above Albania and Israel by a point. They face section stragglers Liechtenstein, who lost 8-0 in Spain, in Vaduz on Saturday.
“Everybody thinks it will be simple, but this is international football,” said Capello. “There are no easy opponents in World Cup qualifying.”
Ventura left in-form Nice forward Mario Balotelli out of his latest squad. Would Capello have picked him?
“Now there’s a decision that fortunately I don’t have to deal with,” he said, smiling.
The only World Cup Italy failed to qualify for – the didn’t enter the race for Uruguay 1930 – was Sweden 1958, when a team including Juan Alberto Schiaffino, Alcides Ghiggia and Dino da Costa were pipped to a ticket by Northern Ireland.