Marcello Lippi eyes coaching country instead of club
Guangzhou, Feb 27 Marcello Lippi is eyeing a chance to coach a national football team instead of any club after the early end of his contract with Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Guangzhou Evergrande here.
"Guangzhou will be my last stop as club team coach. I am going back home for a break. I'm a little tired. But I am still enjoying the job. If I have the chance to coach a national team, I will consider spending one or two years doing that," said the 66-year-old, reports Xinhua.
Sources close to Lippi said that he was waiting for opportunities to take charge of a team which could qualify for the 2018 World Cup. As it was Lippi himself applying for an early termination of the three-year contract which would automatically have ended in 2017, the coach proposed to compensate for Evergrande. But the club board gave it up.
"Due to health and family reasons, Lippi recently applied for an early end to his contract. Through deliberation, the board of directors accepted his resignation," the club said in a statement Thursday.
During his three years in China, the World Cup-winning coach led Evergrande to three straight CSL titles, one Chinese FA Cup crown and the AFC Champions League title in 2013, thus to become the first-ever coach to win both the Asian and European titles.
The Evergrande club heaped praise on Lippi, hailing him as "a great tactician, a gentleman and a huge contributor to Chinese football".
"Lippi took the helm of Evergrande on May 17, 2012. As a world top-class coach and a great tactician, Lippi has not only brought victories and champion's trophies to Guangzhou, but also made great contributions to the development of Chinese football," said the statement.
"A gentleman with a great personality, Lippi is also a football messenger and a beloved friend to hundreds of millions of Chinese fans."
Liu Yongzhuo, vice-president of Evergrande Group, said the club has suggested the Guangzhou municipal government that Lippi be given honourary citizenship.
Analysts said that Lippi departed but left an everlasting legacy to Chinese football. Through Lippi, Chinese football had a close touch with the advanced tactics and training, the effective way to nurture young talents, and the progressive management of a club.
Since the arrival of Lippi in May 2012, many key positions of the Chinese national team have been occupied by Evergrande's players, such as captain and playmaker Zheng Zhi, forward Gao Lin, and central defender Zhang Linpeng. Zheng Zhi has even said that Lippi boosted their teamwork, spirit, and the ability of reading matches in a short period.
Before coming to Evergrande, Lippi had been regarded as one of the greatest and most successful managers in football history. He led Juventus to claim Serie A in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, the UEFA Champions League in 1996, the European Supercup in 1996, and the Intercontinental Cup in 1996.
He was named the world's best football manager by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) in 1996 and 1998. After steering Italy to World Cup triumph in 2006, Lippi was named the world's best national coach by IFFHS.
In 2007, The Times included Lippi in its list of the top-50 managers of all time. In 2011, Lippi was added to the Italian Football Hall of Fame.
Lippi failed to repeat Italy's glory in South Africa where the Azzurri did not survive the World Cup group stage.