Poland, Jun 13: Often charming and even downright grandfatherly at times, Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has become quite an endearing figure at the European Championship with his sometimes fractured use of the English language.
The 73-year-old Italian, who has won league titles in Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria in a trophy-laden career, speaks a multitude of languages and certainly has shown he can get his message across to his players.
But he sometimes does it in a peculiar way.
“Is old the man is no curious about the next news,” Trapattoni said before his team lost to Croatia 3-1 in its opening Euro 2012 match.
He probably meant something more like: “Old is the man who is no longer curious.”
Trapattoni's translator, Manuela Spinelli, is used to such expressions from a man who offers words not only in Italian and English but also in German and French.
“Sometimes I do find it to be quite funny and it probably shows. You probably see me smiling at times and putting my head down,” Spinelli told The Associated Press. “I wouldn't say (his English) is perfect, but he has improved a lot. Now that we have been away for a few weeks, you can tell that he's much more fluent in his delivery.”
Trapattoni took over as Ireland coach in 2008. Since then, he has learned to carry some cheat sheets into news conferences to help him with English expressions.
He still doesn't always get them right, like when he said: “Don't say cat until you have it in the bag.” He was more likely looking for something along the lines of, “Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.”
Nonetheless, Trapattoni's success with Ireland shows his linguistic miscues have nothing to do with his football acumen.
The former Bayern Munich coach, whose famous outburst in Germany in 1998 has drawn more than 1 million views on YouTube, has led the Irish team to a major international tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup.
“He's an amazing person and I enjoy it as well as it being my job,” said Spinelli, who has been working with Trapattoni for four years. “It's important to get across the colorful aspect of how he speaks.”