In Singapore, ex World Player of the Year laughs with xinmsn on a misconception about Italy, how to improve Asian football, and the greatest players he’s played with and against
On his first day at work, Fabio Cannavaro sauntered in with a big reputation.
He had not long ago called time on an illustrious playing career, one that conquered the heights of Italy and Spain, that peaked when he led his countrymen to the World Cup.
He was the World Player of the Year. He won it from the unglamorous position of a defender, the only one to do so in the accolade’s 22-year history.
The Italian was now assistant coach of Al Ahli, a club based in faraway Dubai, where luxury and leisure is higher profile than legwork. They may be renowned in the region but Cannavaro routinely commanded audiences three to five times that of Al Ahli’s 18,000-capacity stadium.
“I did a mistake,” acknowledged the 40-year-old.
Taking charge of his maiden training session, of mostly Emiratis, Cannavaro brought his sponsored pair of boots – in vivid orange.
Such flashy gear may be commonplace in professional football, but Cannavaro soon realized they have nothing in common with his philosophy of ‘professional’.
“The colour was different, you know,” he seemed to hint, of his reluctance for inconsistency.
The difference became his metaphor for professionalism.
All the players looked at his boots, he recalled – and then with sarcasm, “Oh my god, it’s very nice shoes!”
It turned out to be the last time.
“Because to be coach you also need to be professional.
“So I put on black shoes.”
Curious to find out Cannavaro's advice for Asia, the misconception about Italians he wants to correct, and who the best players he’s played with and against are? Click on