Capello: ‘Maldini and Baresi embodied beauty in football’

Fabio Capello reflected on his coaching career, remembering his reputation as a tough operator and some of his favourite players to work with.

The 76-year-old Italian had an impressive career in the dugout, guiding Milan to four Scudetti and a Champions League in the early 1990s, Real Madrid to two La Liga titles and Roma to their third ever Scudetto. Capello won the Panchina d’Oro four times and the Serie A Coach of the Year title, entering the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Speaking at the Trento Sports Festival, Capello first discussed his reputation as a strict coach and whether there was any truth to it.

“As a coach I spoke clearly to my players. I gave respect and demanded respect. But the thing that angered me the most and that I did not accept was the lack of respect towards staff members. 

“No player in particular disrespected me. Clearly one could talk and discuss, but I would not have accepted any other behaviour. I am not an iron sergeant, I am disappointed I was given this label.”

The former Milan and Roma coach then gave his thoughts on beauty in football and which players are the embodiment of this.

“Scoring goals after three passes, for example. Beauty is also getting the result based on the players you have at your disposal. Beauty is also the sudden genius of footballers like Messi, for example. 

“There are two players who embody beauty: Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, because they turned difficulties into easy things. They had personality and they transmitted it to the fans, they were able to shake things up. They were symbols of a team, Milan, who enchanted beauty.”

Finally, Capello discussed the concept of natural talent in football, drawing attention to players like Antonio Cassano, Marco van Basten and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“Sometimes it is confused. Talent is also spoken of footballers who have little of it. Talent can be sensed, then it must be cultivated. And those who possess it must have a great desire to emerge. There are players who have something more and end up making a difference. 

“They enable the team to win, and it is really difficult to achieve a goal without them. Cassano had boundless talent, in the last 20 metres he saw plays that others didn’t even think about. He gave 50% because he was content. It was a pity not to have seen him at his best. 

“But he could make unique plays. Van Basten was another phenomenon. However, I noticed that he was wrong in the way he kicked penalties. I pointed it out to him, he managed to correct the way he hit them and improved in this fundamental as well. 

“Ibrahimovic also made himself available to me to improve and get better. It is a great satisfaction for a coach to see that his teachings lead to the improvement of the player.”

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