Arrigo Sacchi led AC Milan to successive European Champion Clubs' Cups titles in 1989 and 1990 and took Italy to the 1994 FIFA World Cup final. Less known is that he took his first significant strides up the coaching ladder in Bellaria, one of the four host cities of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in Emilia-Romagna where he grew up. Now overseeing youth development at the Italian Football Federation, few know the region better than him.
"I have lived in Romagna for many years and I'm attached to it," Sacchi said. "People are hospitable, generous and live a quality life. They love working, but also having fun and there are so many places here to have fun. There is sport, nightlife and of course beautiful weather. There is a reason the poet Giovanni Pascoli wrote Solatia Romagna (Sunny Romagna) about this region.
Here we say our land is so rich it could give birth to a baby, and then there's the sea – we have everything.
"I miss it when I'm away: places, friends, memories. Romagna is like a celebration of colours. I remember when Sven-Göran Eriksson came to visit me in Milano Marittima; we ran for over an hour in the pine forest and he told me he didn't know Italy had such wonderful countryside.
"And don't underestimate how good the food is in Romagna. We have a food culture. I still remember what we ate after training every Thursday when I was a coach here: ham, salami, piadina (flatbread), gnocco fritto (a local dumpling) and sausages were always on our table. You start with the appetizers, then you go on with strozzapreti (a type of pasta), tagliatelle, cappelletti (similar to ravioli), then meat and fish. Wherever you go in Romagna you eat well.
"I started my coaching career in Fusignano but the big step for me was when I started working in Bellaria, in the province of Rimini, and I'm happy they're hosting a big European tournament like this. My advice for the players taking part is to always put the team first, not themselves."
At a glance
Emilia-Romagna is in north-eastern Italy on the Adriatic Sea and has a population of around 4.4 million. The Under-19 finals take place in the eastern region, Romagna, which is renowned for its beaches, nightlife, food and culture – from the mosaics in Ravenna to the fortress in Forli.
Cervia and Milano Marittina pine forest, Ravenna: Enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery by foot or bike
Mosaics, Ravenna: Ravenna's UNESCO World Heritage Sites are famous for their breathtaking Roman mosaics
Fellini tour, Rimini: Follow in the footsteps of Dolce Vita director Federico Fellini who was born here
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