Former Italy international Roberto Mancini said Wednesday he wanted to take over as Italy national football coach to fulfil his dream of winning the World Cup. Mancini, 53, is positioning himself among the favourites to manage the four-time World Cup winners, with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti, also being touted as candidates.
“I have a dream, to win as national coach what I couldn’t win as a player - a World Cup,” Zenit Saint Petersburg coach Mancini said in an interview with Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve been working on the pitch every day for 40 years as a player and a coach. Besides, I’m young, I could always return to clubs after the national team. I’ve worked in big clubs and won. Coaching the national team is a beautiful thing. It would be an honour, a source of pride. And winning a World Cup or European Championships even more.”
Mancini never became a regular with Italy during his ten-year international career during which the former Lazio and Sampdoria forward won 36 caps and scored four goals. He reached the semi-finals of Euro 1998, and was on the squad that finished third in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Giampiero Ventura was fired as coach last November days after Italy’s shock failure to reach the World Cup final for the first time in 60 years. His successor will be appointed after elections for Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president on January 29, with outgoing boss Carlo Tavecchio saying he did not expect that before June. Mancini joined Zenit, currently second in the Russian league, last June and is under contract until 2020.
“Money wouldn’t be a problem,” continued Mancini when asked of the 5 million euro ($5.6m) budget reportedly set aside by FIGC for the coaching role. “Let’s make it clear though, we’re just talking here: I have a contract with Zenit, who are doing well.”
Mancini has won silverware with all clubs he has managed. He led Manchester City in 2012 to their first English title in 44 years, and won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and Italian Cups with Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio, and a Turkish Cup with Galatasary. And despite their recent woes he sees potential in the demoralised Azzurri.
“There are good young people there, I like (Andrea) Belotti, (Lorenzo) Pellegrini, and (Alessio) Romagnoli, who can still grow a lot. And more are coming through every season. Italians have something more. The materials are there to do a good job, perhaps we need to give a common approach to all the youth teams as happened when I was there. I’d like to see (federation) jobs for former players, but not just by virtue of who they were. Only those with something to give, with passion and charisma. And they’d have to be in roles proportionate to their knowledge and their experience, symbols don’t help anyone.”
Mancini added he would be favourable towards a return of in-form Nice striker Mario Balotelli.
“He’s only 27, he has to go back to the national team. Someone like him can decide certain matches on his own.”