In the build-up to UEFA EURO 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni was described as a 73-year old. Gently, but assertively, he corrected his interviewer. "I am 73 years young," he smiled.
Nonetheless, the Italian became the oldest coach to lead out a team at a UEFA European Championship when the Republic of Ireland took on a Croatia team led by a man with youth on his side.
Trapattoni was 85 days past his 73rd birthday when he climbed into the dugout at the Municipal Stadium Poznan, eclipsing a competition record held by Otto Barić. Austrian-born Barić had just about finished blowing out all 71 candles on his cake when he oversaw Croatia's 4-2 loss to England that brought a premature end to their UEFA EURO 2004 campaign.
It was Barić's final act as Croatia coach, as he made way for the 47-year-old Zlatko Kranjčar. Two summers later and the man in the hot seat was even more youthful and energetic: Slaven Bilić. He promptly became the youngest coach to lead his side to the knockout stages of a major competition at UEFA EURO 2008, coming within a whisker of a semi-final spot.
Four years older and wiser, the 43-year-old pitted his wits against the oldest (and wisest?) of the lot in Croatia's Group C opener against Ireland. Trapattoni's vast compendium of knowledge previously contained a frustratingly short chapter on the UEFA European Championship, and Italy's ill-fated UEFA EURO 2004 campaign when they were edged out in the group stage. Ireland suffered the same fate in Poland.
EURO's golden oldies
73yrs 93days: Giovanni Trapattoni (Republic of Ireland, 2012)
71yrs 2days: Otto Barić (Croatia, 2004)
69yrs 337days: Luis Aragonés (Spain, 2008)
69yrs 215days: Otto Rehhagel (Greece 2008)
69yrs 40days: Vujadin Boškov (Yugoslavia, 2000)
68yrs 215days: Karel Brückner (Czech Republic, 2008)
EURO's young guns
36yrs 333days: Srečko Katanec (Slovenia, 2000)
36yrs 355days: Michel Platini (France, 1992)
37yrs 255days: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands, 2000)
38yrs 321days: Mircea Lucescu (Romania, 1984)
39yrs 271days: Slaven Bilić (Croatia, 2008)
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