Fabio Capello talks to Sport360° about Madrid, Mourinho and his future in management
EXCLUSIVE - Fabio Capello had emphatically declared that his multi-million pound, four-and-half year deal to lead England up until this year’s European Championships in Ukraine and Poland, would be the last of an illustrious career that had seen him take the reins at some of the top clubs in Europe.
However, with six months left on his contract, the 65-year-old Italian decided to vacate the hotseat after his employers – the English FA - stripped John Terry of the captaincy, for the Chelsea star’s alleged racial slur at Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match last year.
Capello stood by his skipper and stepped down. But there is now no guarantee he will stand by his earlier decision to retire as the fire in his belly continues to burn. “If I get a deal with the right terms, then why not?” said Capello, who was in the UAE to attend an event to announce the 7th Dubai International Sports Conference, which will be held in the city in December.
His time as the England manager may have ended abruptly and with heartache, but Capello admits he will always have a soft spot for the Three Lions as he absolutely loved every bit of the “fantastic” four years he spent with one the most exciting teams in the world.
“I can’t speak much about the England position because of contractual obligations after I left, but I loved the England job and those were four fantastic years I spent with a very good football team,” said Capello, who resigned with England having already booked their spot at Euro 2012 following an unbeaten run in qualifying.
He added: “During that time, we qualified for the 2010 World Cup which was important for England. I was really happy because a lot of young players played for the national team.
“It was a really, really, young group, a very good group of players and I think those players are the future for England. I hope the next England manager will be lucky because you need to be lucky if you want good results.”
England’s unbeaten run in qualifying had marked them out as one of the favourites at the tournament in Ukraine and Poland this summer, but sadly Capello won’t be around to mastermind their quest for a first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Capello has won nearly everything there is to win in Italy, both as player and manager, and in Spain as the coach of giants Real Madrid, with whom he had two stints – 1996-97 and 2006-07.
As a player, Capello turned out for Roma, Juventus and Milan in a playing career that spanned 16 years. He won four Serie A and two Coppa Italia titles and has five league titles as a coach, including four back-to-back from 1992-96, while at Milan.
Real v Barca
In Spain, he took the helm at Madrid twice, for one season each time, and won the league title on both occasions. And with Los Blancos looking to win their first La Liga title in four years this season, Capello is keeping a close eye on his former club's fortunes.
“I think it will be really interesting the fight between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Barca won everything in the last three years, a lot of titles and trophies at home and abroad, so it will be really interesting this last month,” Capello said.
“The Clasico on Saturday and also the Champions League matches. I think these two teams are the best now in the world, and they’ve got a 20-point gap keeping them apart from the rest of the teams in Spain, it’s incredible.
“The value of these teams is high and their styles are also very different. Barca like a lot of ball possession, but I think both are really good, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi making the difference.
“I coached for Real Madrid for two years in different eras. I like Madrid, I like the fans, but I also respect Barcelona and I like their manager. Both teams are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and it could be very interesting if both reach the final. Real are stronger at this moment and closer to Barca’s level because their coach Jose Mourinho understands what his side needs to do to beat Barcelona.
“I think these two teams are ahead of the rest of the teams around the world. Some teams are closer to each other but they are definitely stronger than the rest of the clubs in the world.”
The next question had to be the undying Ronaldo-Messi debate. So who is the better of the two, Fabio? “Their styles are different, but they have a lot in common – they’re both trying to be the best, trying to score goals and help their team win. This is really important.
“I think there is more imagination from Messi, his passing and assists are great, but Ronaldo is stronger and faster and his ability to shoot from long distances is better, he is a really strong guy. I think Cristiano Ronaldo plays more to score goals and for himself and he does it really well. Messi too scores a lot, but he plays for the team.”
Capello also feels Spain are the team to beat in Euro2012. He said: “They are really, really good and are playing really well and it’s difficult to win the ball off them. Their passing is great and every time they have the ball they look dangerous. Germany too are always among the top four contenders, but England, Italy, the Dutch and France could also be there.”
Capello on Dubai...
“I know Dubai very well because I was here many years ago. I have seen the city grow and the skyscrapers come up. I visited the Burj Khalifa with my wife Laura and we were just talking about how it was a desert a few years back and how things have changed.
“I like Dubai and this event (DISC) is really good. A lot of top people in football come here for it and it’s really good promotion for football in this area.”
His reported £10m (Dh58.9m) fine art collection...
“I started collecting when I was 23 and playing for Juventus. Thereafter for a long time I bought some pictures, I like different forms of contemporary art because I understand it. I don’t like movies. I like paintings.”
His love of food...
“I try to eat food from different countries whenever I visit. When in Italy it’s mostly Italian because my wife Laura is a really good cook, but I also like Japanese and Arabic food. I love food!”