Thu, May 29, 2008 - Page 18 News List

England soccer boss belies dour image, even cracking jokes


He laughed, he smiled, he cracked jokes.

This wasn't how English soccer fans expected to see national team coach Fabio Capello.

Especially since he was finally speaking in English.

On the eve of his third game in charge since he took over in early January, Capello spoke English for the first time at an official news conference rather than his native Italian on Tuesday.

A successful coach with a stern demeanor when he’s on the bench or conducting training sessions, Capello had been using a translator at previous interviews. He ran into trouble in the past at Real Madrid when he used a wrong word in Spanish and was attacked in the media.

Another Italian, Giovanni Trapattoni, has already been speaking in English since taking over as Ireland coach.

Capello at last decided to trust his command of the language when facing the media at England’s training camp. He had translator Danny Tartaglia by his side just in case when he spoke ahead of yesterday’s friendly against the US at Wembley.


Although Tartaglia occasionally prompted him, Capello did an impressive job as he answered questions on why he chose John Terry as captain and where he plans to use Wayne Rooney.

After giving the captain’s armband to Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard for his first game in charge, a 2-1 victory over Switzerland, and to Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand for the 1-0 loss to France, he has handed it to Terry.

The Chelsea captain was in tears after his club’s penalty shootout loss to Manchester United in last week’s Champions League final. His miss with the title in his grasp effectively handed the advantage back to United.

Terry was inconsolable and Capello said he has experienced such emotion himself.

“The emotion is very strong,” he said. “It’s not easy to stop. It’s impossible sometimes. I had the same emotion two or three times.”

“Yes, I cried once in Milan. It was a private situation on the pitch. After the last game [saying farewell to Milan]. Good memories,” he said.

Capello said he has moved the captaincy among players from the traditional powerhouses of English soccer. But he ran into difficulties at Arsenal, which frequently fields lineups without any English players.

“We have had three captains — Liverpool, United and Chelsea. Now Arsenal, it’s impossible,” he said, drawing laughter from the reporters.

Capello, who has won multiple titles at club level with AC Milan, AS Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid, says he’s also trying to find the right role for Manchester United striker Rooney.

attacking from deep

The powerfully built forward is usually at his best when he’s attacking from deep and running at defenders rather than being the target man inside his opponents’ penalty area.

“He plays leftwing, rightwing, center-forward. He’s versatile,” Capello said. “His position is better as the second striker. One plays up front and the other plays behind.”

“Rooney’s potential is very, very big. He said to me: ‘I have to score more goals. I have to stay more in front of goal.’ He has won a lot but not enough,” the Italian said.

Capello said he would try to get his team to impose traditional English strengths against the Americans but add a little more of what he wants to see.

“It’s very important in this game to play with big confidence and a very English spirit,” he said. “Sure they are not as fresh as the USA players, who have just started their season, but I think we need to play with spirit and intensity. We have to play quick and strong and pressing a lot.”

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