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Jay Scardina On January - 27 - 2011

National Team Spotlight: Cesare Prandelli

I thought that while international football is on hold for a few more weeks in Europe, I would do a spotlight on Italy’s head coach Cesare Prandelli to show what credentials and experience he brings to the team. He certainly has his work cut out for him, with fans expecting a lot more than what Lippi gave them at the last World Cup. Prandelli has already shown that he is a much different coach, mixing youth with experience, and giving some players a chance that Lippi would never consider. However, as a coach he has never won a trophy, or coached for the one of the northern Italian clubs that have won championships.

Cesare Prandelli was born in Orzinuovi, Italy on August 19, 1957. He started his career playing for Cremonese as a midfielder in 1974. He then moved to Atalanta in 1978, and joined Juventus in 1979. He spent 6 years there playing in the Trappattoni era. Prandelli played with such legends as Paolo Rossi and Michel Platini during his time in Turin. Juventus won the Serie A title 3 times while he was there. Prandelli ended his career with Atalanta in1990 with 197 Serie A matches and 25 career goals under his belt. He immediately began a coaching career with the youth team for Atalanta where he stayed until 1997. This was his longest spell as a coach, and during the following years he bounced around Italian teams in Serie A and B. Lecce picked him up for their 1997-1998 season, but dropped him after only one season. Prandelli moved to Hellas Verona and helped them get promoted to Serie A. He then went on a short 2 season run with Parma , where he caught the eyes of Roma.

Prandelli signed on to be Roma’s manager in 2004, but had to leave his post after a few days. He left football for a year to be with his wife, who was battling breast cancer and recovering from treatment. He returned to coaching in 2005 with Fiorentina. During his first season as head coach the team reached 4th place, and a spot in the Champions League. Prandelli would have to wait for his chance in the Champions League though as Fiorentina were one of the teams named in the Caliopoli scandal. Initially the team were relegated to Serie B, but were allowed to stay in Serie A with a 15 point deduction in the 2006-2007 season. This did not stop him from winning the Panchina d’Oro, or the Golden Bench Award. The team rallied to finish 6th place, and earned a spot in the UEFA Cup for the 2007-2008 season. Fiorentina made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and lost to the Rangers in away goals.

This was a huge accomplishment for Prandelli who also lost his wife to cancer on November 26, 2007. For his efforts though he was awarded Serie A Coach of the Year for the 2007-2008 season. The following year he got Fiorentina back into the Champions League again after they finished in 4th place. Fiorentina made it through the group stages and into the Round of 16, where they lost to Champions League runner ups, Bayern Munich. Prandelli was unable to repeat his successful run with Fiorentina as they ended the 2009-2010 season in 11th place. However, by that time he was already in talks to take over the national team after the World Cup.

I know that some may wonder why the Italian National Team would consider a coach who has never won a trophy. The national team did need a change in direction, and so far I believe that Prandelli has given that to them. He has shown that he can turn teams around with out adding big names to the squad. Since he has never won a trophy, this may be the motivation he needs to make the team succeed. I have no doubts that Italy will make it to Euro 2012, but as always the coach will feel the most pressure during a big tournament. A successful run or possibly winning the tournament would cement Prandelli as the people’s choice for manager in the next World Cup. At the moment Italian national team fans want a winning team, and so far he has given us that.

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