Lippi: ‘Italy players dropped shorts ahead of 2006 World Cup semi-final’

by | May 9, 2022 21:33

Marcello Lippi explains why winning the 2006 World Cup with Italy had fans weeping and the players dropping their shorts to put Germany off ahead of the semi-final.

The coach gave a talk at a university in Rome today and looked back over his career, which included winning the Champions League with Juventus and of course lifting the most prestigious trophy in the sport.

“I won a lot in my time, but trust me, nothing can replace the satisfaction of winning the World Cup with your own country,” said Lippi.

“There’s no Champions League or Scudetto that can compare. The emotion of giving the Italians the World Cup is utterly unique.”

The Azzurri won the tournament in Germany in 2006, with a large ex-pat community of Italians living in the country.

“Believe me, there were Italians who came to the hotel in Germany crying and asking us to give them this moment of joy. And we did that. It was marvellous.

“As always in these competitions, you need some luck too, and we managed to avoid the big nations until the semi-final.”

The Azzurri took on the host nation Germany in the semi-final, winning 2-0 in extra time with goals from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero, just as penalties seemed to be looming.

Lippi revealed an intriguing anecdote from the build-up to that game against Die Mannschaft.

“The morning of the semi-final with Germany, we were warming up near Dortmund when I saw these flashes of light coming from the trees nearby. I suspected some photographers were hiding and trying to get some insider information on our tactics.

“So I told my players about it, asked them to all line up with their backs to the trees and at my command, lean over and pull your shorts down.

“They did it and we all laughed. The fact that no photograph was published suggests there was no photographer, but at least we had fun, an indispensable element for a winning squad. Technical quality alone is not enough if you don’t have harmony within the group.

“The best coach is not the most competent, but the one that can create the best team spirit.”

Lippi retired in 2019 after a series of experiences in China with Guangzhou Evergrande and the China national squad.

The coach is not shy about confessing the reasons for that jaunt in Asia.

“I had won everything there was to win and felt that on an economic level I didn’t capitalise the way I should’ve done on my career in economic terms. So, after many proposals, I finally accepted.

“They were about to hire Guus Hiddink, so I asked how much they were going to pay him and it was €10m per year. At that point, I said well you may as well swing round to me!

“I did win the Asian Champions League trophy, which had never been won by a Chinese club before.”

7 Comments

  1. Milan Fan

    What?!

  2. JARODKNOWLEs

    Lippi did you ever tell Sacchi “this is how it’s done” I mean that guy benched Signori when Baggio could have used some help. I guarantee you Lippi would never have benched Signori, he played everybody and won it.

  3. Fatecisognare

    @Jarod He also excluded an in-form Zola who was sent off for making a valid tackle and insisted on playing Nicola Berti who was completely useless in midfield. Sacchi was dragged to that final by a legendary Baggio, despite his tactical best efforts. Lippi is a completely different category. A true legend.

  4. TottigoL

    Exactly! Sacchi also left at home players such as: Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli, Attilio Lombardo, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Sebastiano Rossi, and Giuseppe Bergomi. Imagine if we would have had these players in 1994 plus a competent CT.

  5. Gel

    Let everybody who thinks that club football is more important than the national team read this article!

  6. TONINO

    Absolutely right Gel. Country comes first. Sacchi was awful in 1996 and in 1994 he should have started the final with Zola and then bring on Roby Baggio later in the game. I am stating this only on the grounds that unfortunately he had pulled his hamstring in the semi final with Bulgaria. For me Sacchi was the worse of the coaches as very arrogant and pig headed. After the great Vittorio Pozzo, the best coaches have been Bearzot, Lippi, Zoff and Mancini. After Mancio, I honestly think it will be Carlo Ancellotti.

  7. gtreyf@yahoo.com

    i love how i cant post a comment other than this.

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