Enzo Bearzot Dies At 83

by Niccolo Conte on December 22, 2010 · 0 comments

Enzo Bear­zot, a leg­end of Ital­ian coach­ing, died today. While I can’t say much about what I remem­ber of him, I can say that he is cer­tainly one of the great­est influ­ences on Ital­ian foot­ball. Although many coaches focus on drills, tac­tics, and fit­ness, Bear­zot also made sure he cre­ated a tightly-knit group. One of the most human and relat­able peo­ple to grace the game, Bear­zot made sure that peo­ple under­stood his ideas, becom­ing like an older brother or a father for his play­ers, and ulti­mately for all of Italy.

As a player Enzo Bear­zot was hard-working and ver­sa­tile. Bear­zot had 251 appear­ances in the Serie A, play­ing for Inter Milan, Cata­nia, and most notably Torino. He was an impor­tant piece in Torino’s side, play­ing often as a cen­tral defender, and help­ing rebuild the team after the tragic Superga air dis­as­ter. In his play­ing career he also earned one cap for the Ital­ian National team in 1955. He wasn’t a truly fan­tas­tic player, but he had great ideas and skills which he uti­lized in his coach­ing career.

Bearzot’s great­est moment as a coach was with­out a doubt when he won the 1982 World Cup at the helm of Italy’s national team. When he first took the job, he was scru­ti­nized by the media due to his, lack of inex­pe­ri­ence in big coach­ing jobs. Italy had a poor start to the 1982 World Cup, and as the Ital­ian media was wildly crit­i­ciz­ing Bear­zot, the coach issued a “silen­zio stampa”, which means “silence to the press”, allow­ing him and his side to work in tem­po­rary silence. Bear­zot even­tu­ally found the per­fect com­bi­na­tion with time, and Italy defeated favorites Brazil, then Argentina, and finally West Ger­many in the final. Enzo Bear­zot con­quered the 1982 World Cup, Italy’s third, end­ing 44 years of drought in which the Azzurri hadn’t been crowned as world champions.

There weren’t many other high­lights like 1982 in Bearzot’s coach­ing career, nonethe­less he was a man with the right ideals.

“The player pro­file has also changed, espe­cially regard­ing loy­alty to clubs, which have them­selves become profit-making busi­nesses. What’s more, foot­ball has now become a sci­ence, if not always exact, but for me, it’s

still first and fore­most a game.”

I men­tioned before that Enzo Bear­zot was more than just a coach. He did his best to rid Italy of the tight and defen­sive cate­nac­cio, instead try­ing to imprint a more fluid and attack­ing style, inspired by the Nether­lands which played total foot­ball in 1974. While the Azzurri didn’t play total foot­ball, they became a more attack­ing side, enter­tain­ing crowds with excit­ing per­for­mances. In the end Enzo Bear­zot had a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy regard­ing how his teams should play,

“For me, foot­ball should be played with two wingers, a cen­tre for­ward and a play­maker. That’s the way I see the game. I select my play­ers and then I let them play the game, with­out try­ing to impose tac­ti­cal plans on them. You can’t tell Maradona, ‘Play the way I tell you.’ You have to leave him free to express him­self. The rest will take care of itself,”

A sim­ple yet won­der­ful idea of foot­ball from a true leg­end of the game. While Bear­zot was often crit­i­cized at the begin­ning of the cam­paign of 1982, every Ital­ian loved him by the end of the tour­na­ment. It wasn’t love just because of what he achieved, but it was a love which extends past the fact that many never knew him. Bear­zot was a father fig­ure for all of Italy, guid­ing the coun­try while tak­ing crit­i­cism by ones which would ulti­mately be proven wrong. Not only did Bear­zot cre­ate a fam­ily with his play­ers, he brought all of Italy closer together, win­ning a tour­na­ment which lives in a nation’s hearts.

Enzo Bear­zot, born 27 Sep­tem­ber 1927, died 21 Decem­ber 2010.

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