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"Incomparable"

Tanti auguri: Giovanni Trapattoni is 80 today!

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A tactical mastermind, and a gentleman who occasionally lost his temper… Giovanni Trapattoni led FC Bayern for three unforgettable seasons, in 1994/95 and then from 1996 to 1998. In that time, he won the Bundesliga title (1997), DFB Cup (1998) and Ligapokal (1997), part of a collection of over 20 trophies that he won with FCB, Juventus, Inter Milan, Benfica, RB Salzburg and the Iran national team. One of the most successful coaches in world football celebrates his 80th birthday on Sunday – happy birthday, or rather tanti auguri, signor!

“I’ll celebrate my birthday with my family, and as simply as possible,” said the Italian in an interview with the FC Bayern magazine. “At this stage of my life, I just want to spend time with my family, especially my wife Paola and my three grandchildren,” added Trapattoni. The much-decorated coach still reflects fondly on his three years at Säbener Straße.

“I’ll never forget how much respect was shown to me in Munich, from the players as well as the fans. I wasn’t used to that in Italy,” recalls Trapattoni, who also “fell in love with the city immediately”, adding: “Munich is wonderful. I felt more than at home there. Munich will always have a place in my heart,” described the former AC Milan player, who also collected several trophies during his playing career, including two European Cups and the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac on Giovanni Trapattoni
"He’s incomparable, there aren’t many people like him in the game."

It’s not just his footballing expertise that earned him fame, but also his legendary outburst in March 1998. “At first I was restrained, then suddenly my temper got the better of me,” explained Il Trap, who had “more or less planned” what he wanted to say, “but not the way it was then said”. His expressions “Schwach wie eine Flasche leer” (“weak like an empty bottle”), “Was erlauben Strunz?” (“what gives Strunz the right?”) and “Ich habe fertig” (“I have finished”) are still well remembered by football fans and have long been part of common parlance.

Trapattoni doesn’t regret that he lost control that day: “I’m a spontaneous person.” However, he does wish to apologise to his players at the time – above all Thomas Strunz. “His name was everywhere, the public and the media were making fun of him. That wasn’t my intention. I think Thomas and all my players can laugh about my performance now. I hope they’re doing well and aren’t angry at me.”

Current Bayern boss Niko Kovac knows Trapattoni well. “I had him as my coach for two years at Salzburg,” recalls Kovac, who won the Austrian title under Trapattoni in 2007. “He’s incomparable, there aren’t many people like him in the game. He’s a really great person with emotional intelligence and empathy. You could learn a lot from him.” Trapattoni has one wish for the future: “Let me put it this way, I feel like I’ve played the 90 minutes of my match. The golden goal starts now!”

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