Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 23 News List

Trapattoni takes charge of the Republic of Ireland

AFP, DUBLIN

Former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni will take charge of the Republic of Ireland's bid to reach the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa after his appointment was confirmed by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The seven-time Serie A winner earlier confirmed he would be taking the job as successor to Steve Staunton, who was sacked last October for failing to take Ireland to the finals of Euro 2008.

The FAI's 10-member board ratified the appointment hours after Trapattoni confirmed he would be leaving Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg.

The 68-year-old will take up his position on May 1st, in time for Ireland's friendly in Dublin against Serbia. While another friendly may be arranged in the interim, his first competitive match in charge will be away to Georgia in September.

Trapattoni will also face his native Italy -- who he managed for four years -- in World Cup Group 8, which also features Bulgaria, Cyprus and Montenegro.

"Qualifying for the World Cup in 2010 will be hard and playing against the Italian team will make me proud, but it should be possible for Ireland to come first," Trapattoni said.

His appointment ends a 113-day search for a successor to Staunton, which was often viewed by the local media as another example of incompetence.

FAI chief executive John Delaney was keen to stress that Trapattoni represented a new beginning.

"Everyone acknowledges that the senior international team has not achieved to the extent everyone has liked in the past five years. But we are now entering a new era with a manager whose track record is about the most successful in Europe," Delaney said.

Caretaker manager Don Givens, who led a three-man appointment panel which included former England and Arsenal coach Don Howe and former Ireland star Ray Houghton, said there was no interference from the FAI and no pressure to make a decision.

"We were asked to do the job as professionally and efficiently ... and we feel that we have come up with a top-class manager," Givens said.

Houghton said the selection process took longer than hoped but was unapologetic: "Time wasn't an issue for us. We put out heads on the line here -- Don Howe, Don Givens and myself -- we were picking the man and we knew it would reflect on us in time."

"That's why we took that bit longer know than maybe we should have done but ultimately we believe 100 percent that the man we have brought in is the man to take this team forward," he said.

It also emerged that Irish telecoms and media billionaire Denis O'Brien was helping part fund the 68-year-old's pay package, thought to be in the region of 1.4 million euros (US$2 million) per year after tax.

Delaney said O'Brien had not sought any influence over the decision or special commercial or personal treatment from the FAI.

"He indicated he would be prepared to sponsor part of the new manager's salary in order to insure that money was not an insurmountable obstacle in getting the best possible person for the position," Delaney said.

Trapattoni is expected to appoint former Italy star Claudio Gentile as his assistant and Fausto Rossi as fitness coach. He also confirmed that he had invited Ireland legend Liam Brady, who won two Serie A titles under him at Juventus, to be part of his team.

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