Monday, July 16, 2012
16 July 2004 - For Lippi, The First Time's The Charm
The 56-year old manager had been well-traveled, coaching eleven different teams in Italy since the start of his managerial career in 1982. But his greatest success had come with Juventus, where he won five Serie A titles, the Champions League, and the Intercontinental Cup in two spells from 1994 to 1999 and 2001 to 2004 (spending one season at Inter in between).
He replaced Giovanni Trapattoni at Italy after the Azzurri suffered an embarrassing group-stage exit at Euro 2004. He quickly righted the ship, guiding them to the top of their World Cup qualification group with an impressive record of seven wins, two draws, and only one loss. They continued their impressive form in the tournament itself with a march to the final that included an extra-time win over hosts Germany in the semi-finals. In the final, they beat France in a memorable penalty shootout to claim their fourth World Cup trophy.
Lippi resigned after the tournament, but was recalled for the 2010 World Cup after the dismissal of his successor, Roberto Donadoni. Unfortunately, he could not recapture the magic from his earlier spell and Italy exited the competition after going winless in the group stage, leading to Lippi's second resignation.