Vittorio Pozzo: Wikis

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Vittorio Pozzo
Vittorio Pozzo 1920 year.jpg
Personal information
Full name Vittorio Pozzo
Date of birth March 2, 1886(1886-03-02)
Place of birth    Turin, Italy
Date of death    December 21, 1968 (aged 82)
Place of death    Ponderano, Italy
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1905–1906
1906–1911
Grasshopper-Club Zürich
Torino
   
Teams managed
1912
1912–1922
1924–1926
1928
1929–1948
Italy
Torino
A.C. Milan
Italy
Italy

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Vittorio Pozzo (March 2, 1886 in Turin, Piedmont, ItalyPonderano (Biella) December 21, 1968) was an Italian football (soccer) coach who was most famous for leading the Italian national team to victory in the 1934 FIFA World Cup and 1938 FIFA World Cups; managed the side that won the 1930 and 1935 editions of the Central European International Cup, as well as the 1936 Olympic football gold medal and the 1928 Olympic football bronze medal. He oversaw the famous unbeaten run of the Italian side from December 1934 until 1939 and was also famous for creating the Metodo tactical formation. He is the only coach to ever win two FIFA World Cups.

Contents

Background (1886-1928)

Affectionately known as Il Vecchio Maestro (The Old Master)[1][2] and described as both an Anglophile and authoritarian,[3] Pozzo's time as national coach coincided with the period in which Benito Mussolini governed Italy and it has been written that Pozzo was a beneficiary of that era in that he was able to command a type of control over players not permissible in the aftermath of that time.

In his formative years Pozzo, who had come from a reasonably comfortable background, travelled widely. He studied in Manchester at the turn of the 20th century and met Manchester United half-back Charlie Roberts and Derby County's inside-left Steve Bloomer. An Anglophile, legend has it that later in life Pozzo once purchased and never parted with a ticket to England. Pozzo played professionally in Switzerland for Grasshopper-Club Zürich during the 1905-06 season and in France before returning to Italy where he helped to found Torino FC on December 3, 1906, playing for the Turin side from 1906 to 1911. After a stint managing the Italian Olympic side at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, where Italy lost 3-2 to Finland in the first round match at Traneburg in a match refereed by Hugo Meisl, Pozzo took charge of Torino from 1912-1924. During this time he took up a management post outside of football with the Pirelli organisation and served with Italian forces in the Alpines during the First World War.

Coach of the National side

Pozzo returned to coach the national side on a permanent basis from December 1929[4] onwards on the basis that he would accept no money for the position. Italy won the 1930 version of the Central European International Cup, defeating Hungary 5-0 in Budapest where Hungary had yet to fail to win a game. They pipped the title from Meisl’s Austrian side, the so-called Wunderteam who went on to win the second edition of that tournament. As a memento of that victory, Pozzo would always carry a chip off the Central European International trophy. The trophy, made of Bohemian crystal, was dropped when Italy first won it, smashing into so many pieces that it could not be fixed.

Pozzo was remembered as a decisive leader. Following the 1930 defeat to Spain, Pozzo dropped Adolfo Baloncieri, his captain and an international of ten years standing.[5] In the lead-up to the 1934 tournament, the auguries were not good. In 1932, Austria beat Italy, as did the Czechs, while a defeat to Hungary was only averted because of a missed penalty. This led to Pozzo bringing back the Bologna player Angelo Schiavio, who had been a regular goalscorer for his club, but in February 1934 with the World Cup looming Austria defeated Italy in Turin 4-2,[6] Again Pozzo felled the axe on the team captain Umberto Caligaris.

Successes during the 1930s

During the 1934 FIFA World Cup in their home country, Pozzo's Italian side benefited from controversy in the first tournament on European soil. The game against Spain in the quarter-finals raised questions against the performance of the referee Louis Baert in the match, a draw; and in the replay, Swiss referee Rene Mercet did not escape criticism and was banned upon his arrival home by the Swiss FA. A clear foul on Ricardo Zamora for the equaliser in the first leg went unpunished while another on Joan Josep Nogués in the replay earned Italy a semi-final place.

Italy benefited as well from the grueling quarter-final played elsewhere between Hungary and Austria. By the time of the semi-final, Johann Horvath was absent and Italy won by another disputed goal over Austria. Enrique Guaita, one of the squad's Oriundi, scored from close range after Giuseppe Meazza had fallen over goalkeeper Peter Platzer. On the back of the World Cup success, Pozzo was awarded the title of Commendatore for greatness in his profession.

The excesses of the side, however, boiled over at the Battle of Highbury in December 1934 against a tough English side led by Arsenal's uncompromising Wilf Copping.

Italy repeated as Central European International Cup winners in 1935, going into the 1936 Summer Olympics on the back of a run which had seen them lose only to Austria and England since October 1932. The Italians, all registered as students, won the Olympic Games that year, defeating Meisl’s Austrians in the final 2-1. Annibale Frossi, the myopic striker who Pozzo had discovered from obscurity in Serie B, led the front-line throughout the tournament.

By the time of the 1938 World Cup, Italy remained undefeated in recent competition under Pozzo. Silvio Piola earned his first cap in 1935 and became an instant success, scoring regularly for the national side and proving an effective partner for Meazza. Legend has it that ahead of the semifinal against Brazil, Pozzo learned that the Brazilians were so sure of themselves and confident of appearing in the final in Paris that they had requisitioned the only airplane from Marseilles to Paris on the day after the semifinal against Pozzo's Italy. Pozzo went to the Brazilians that sunbathed in Côte d'Azur and asked them to surrender him the aerial bookings in case of Italian victory. The Brazilians apparently arrogantly answered "it is not possible because to Paris we will go, because we will beat you in Marseilles"[7]. They then reportedly offered Pozzo the ironic hospitality of a plane ride to Paris to see them play in the final. Pozzo reported to the Italian side what the Brazilians had told him to rouse the pride of the players. It was the psychological premise for revenge in the match, which Italy went on to win 2-1. In the resulting final, Italy duly won their second world title in a 4-2 free-scoring game against Hungary.

End of coaching (1939-1948)

There were slight wobbles with the side just after the advent of the second World War, but Pozzo remained in position throughout the hostilities. At the Olympic Games in 1948, Pozzo’s last match as Italian coach came was a 5-3 defeat to Denmark in the quarterfinals at Highbury Stadium in London. Pozzo finished with a record 64 wins, 17 draws and 16 defeats[8] from 97 games. His percentage of victories is equal to 65.97% of the played games, a record among Italian national team coaches.

Later Life (1949-1968)

Pozzo became a journalist with Stampa after retiring from football management, resuming a career he had worked in prior to his successes as coach of Italy. He reported on the 1950 FIFA World Cup as part of his work covering Italian national team matches. After watching Italy win the 1968 European Football Championships, the successor to the Central European International Cup he had won twice with the Azzurri, Pozzo died that year.

The Metodo

Pozzo’s reign as Italian national coach was characterised by three matters. The first was the tactical development of the ‘metodo’ formation. This was not Pozzo’s original idea but one spawned of his two famous contemporaries. In London, Herbert Chapman and in Vienna, Hugo Meisl had both seen the need to encourage more attacking play following the change in the off-side law in 1925. Whereas previously formations had remained the same since the 1890s (the 2-3-5 formations) the change in the off-side law saw Chapman use a forward-lying ‘stopper’ (in the Arsenal team of the 1920s this was a role adopted by Herbie Roberts, a slow runner but good passer of the ball). By having the centre-half playing just behind the inside forwards Chapman was able to have Roberts tackle the opposing centre-forward and then deliver the ball smartly in order to set up attacks. There was also greater onus on the wingers attacking the goal more. Cliff Bastin was a key component of the Arsenal success story in the 1930s; a free scoring winger. Later Pozzo evolved the formation into the Sistema (2-3-2-3 formation), which created a stronger defence. The relative strength of Chapman's and Pozzo's ideas was put to the test in 1933 during their European tour, when England (led by Herbert Chapman (the first coach to take full control of the national side)) drew 1-1 with Pozzo's Italian side.

Oriundi

The other matter that Pozzo benefited from was ‘oriundi’ (that is foreign-born Italian ‘nationals’) which permitted Italy to take huge advantage of those players from other countries who could claim some type of Italian ancestry. In the 1900s Pozzo had been immersed in the chivalry of physical and fair football. In the 1930s he was able to call on Luis Monti a notoriously tough-tackling midfielder (who had appeared for the Argentinians in their 1930 World Cup final defeat) and who was a vital part of the success of the team in the 1934 World Cup.

About the criticisms receipts to call on oriundi players in the victorious world cup of 1934, reporting to the fact that them same served in the army, he said: "If they can die for Italy, they can also play for Italy".[9]

He was also a fan of Raimundo Orsi, a fellow Argentinian who he was able to prize away from Buenos Aires after an undistinguished stint in the Argentinian shirt. Orsi, never a prolific goalscorer, would reward Pozzo’s faith with a freakish goal in the 1934 World Cup final.[4] Not that he dispensed with home-grown talent. His penchant for attacking play is demonstrated by the fact that as well as Schiavio, Pozzo was successful in converting Giuseppe Meazza, who was captain in 1938, from a striker into an inside forward; indeed Pozzo’s reign is linked closely to the success of his strikers.

Fascist salute

The other matter was the historical period. Brian Glanville has stated that Pozzo was not a fascist; he did, however, work alongside Giorgio Vaccaro - a general from the fascist militia during that first World Cup campaign.

The third edition of the FIFA World Cup took place in France, where numerous refugees who had escaped the fascist regime in Italy booed the Italian national team. In the first match of the Italian national team, against the Norwegian national team, among the twenty-two thousand spectators there were three thousand escaped antifascist Italians that heavily contested “Mussolini's national team”. Pozzo replied to the demonstration with a memorable episode. To the presentation of the teams in field, gli azzurri had made the fascist salute as it was custom. They were overwhelmed by the whistles. He feared that that reception demoralized the players. When the whistles diminished, because gli azzurri lowered the arm, Pozzo that was lined up with them to the center of the field ordered a new Roman salute. He said then: “So we won the intimidation.”

The coach Pozzo ordered the players to continue with the fascist salute during the national anthem. Afterwards he declared: "Our players don't even dream to make some politics, but the fascist salute is the official flag of the moment, it's a sort of ceremony and they must show allegiance to it. I have my ideas, but I know what my duty is. When we take to the field we are solemn and deafening hisses attend us. And we don't lower the hand until the hisses are stopped. The action of intimidation has not succeeded". The quarter-final, in Paris against France, saw Italy play in the infamous all-black strip (It is open to conjecture as to the reason for this decision although some ideas have been mooted: to intimidate the French; to antagonise the refugees and anti-fascist patriots in the crowd. No single idea has succeeded.

One thing is certain, Italy played tough, attacking football during that period; the grace of Orsi, Meazza and Schiavio was backed up by Monti and Locatelli.

Honours

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International

Italy

References

External links

Preceded by
Uruguay Alberto Suppici
FIFA World Cup winning managers
1934 & 1938
Succeeded by
Uruguay Juan López

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