A DELIGHTED GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI made no effort to hide his happiness this morning as news of his new contract with the Republic of Ireland was confirmed.
After guiding the country to its first major championships in 10 years, the Italian trio of Trapattoni, assistant Marco Tardelli and fitness coach Fausto Rossi were rewarded with extensions which will see them stay on until the end of the 2014 World Cup campaign.
The announcement brings an end to months of speculation surrounding Trapattoni’s future with Ireland.
The Italian’s new deal is estimated to be worth in the region of €1.5m per annum with businessman Denis O’Brien again picking up some of the tab on the FAI’s behalf.
“We are happy. I think also the FAI is happy with the fact that we immediately achieved our agreement,” the 72-year-old said.
I love [Ireland], I said many times. Irish people are like where I live in Italy. My little village is like Ireland; the people live like my life in Italy. Sometimes when I speak about this I have emotion, because I remember my time when I was a child.
Now that the formalities have been completed, Trapattoni’s thoughts will immediately return to next June’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Ireland have been seeded in the bottom pool for Friday’s group stage draw in Kiev, raising the possibility of a meeting against Trapattoni’s native Italy next summer.
It’s a prospect which the manager seems anxious to avoid if possible but he insists that his side will fear no opponent.
“Maybe the draw say Italy, but at this moment I prefer not to play against Italy. I have no fear of the other teams. We beat Italy in friendly games, but now it’s better that they beat other teams.
Ireland is a little country. It is not famous as a national team. But I think also the great countries, the famous teams, need to have respect. For Ireland I trust we can achieve the good position, to qualify for the quarter final and further.
“It’s not easy but with our mentality we can do it well.”
And Trapattoni was also quick to respond to criticism of the team’s style of play, often seen as limited and overly negative.
“The players can change the system,” he said. “If you have your quality, I cannot change your quality with the system. The players make a system, not the coach make a system.”
– Additional reporting by Michael Freeman.