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The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have announced that Cesare Prandelli will be officially unveiled as Italy coach on 1 July, while captain Fabio Cannavaro has retired from international football at the age of 36.
Prandelli's appointment was long expected; at the start of this month his club, ACF Fiorentina, announced he would be replaced by Siniša Mihajlović for next season. The 52-year-old former Juventus midfielder, started his coaching career with Atalanta BC and led US Lecce, AC Venezia, Hellas-Verona FC, AS Roma and Parma FC before joining Fiorentina in 2005. Last season he led the Viola to the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Prandelli was selected for his ability to work with young players and because of his landmark achievements in Florence," FIGC president Giancarlo Abete explained. "We have a long-term project with Prandelli; that's why he will sign a four-year contract lasting until the next World Cup."
Marcello Lippi, who led the Azzurri to glory at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, had already decided to step down before the start of the current finals in South Africa. Thursday's 3-2 defeat against Slovakia saw Italy eliminated as the bottom side in Group F.
The 62-year-old Lippi had replaced Roberto Donadoni in the wake of a disappointing showing at UEFA EURO 2008, and said: "
I'm very sorry to have ended my time with Italy in this sad way. I take all responsibility. If the team approached a tournament like the World Cup with fear, it means I did not do my job properly."
Abete added: "I made the decision to recall Marcello Lippi after EURO 2008 and I don't regret it. We are still grateful to him and will always be. Now we absolutely need a fresh start, we cannot afford to be sad for too long, we have to restart quickly." Italy will start their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign against Estonia on 3 September.
Cannavaro, meanwhile, will not be available for selection having announced that his 136th cap for Italy was his last. The one-time SSC Napoli, Parma, FC Internazionale Milano and Real Madrid CF defender ended a second spell at Juventus in the summer, committing to represent Dubai-based Al-Ahli Club for the next two seasons.
"It would have been easier to quit in 2006 after the World Cup triumph, but I didn't think it was fair towards the people who gave me so much during my career," the 2006 Ballon d'Or winner said. "In 2006 I came to this press conference with the cup beside me. I don't have it now but I'm here to take my responsibility. For me the national team is always special.
This tournament is a black page in the history of our national team but it cannot cancel what we did in 2006."
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