Meet new Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura

UEFA.com brings you the lowdown on new Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, including his love of all things Spanish, his motivational skills and succeeding Antonio Conte.

Giampiero Ventura in typically forthright mood while at Torino
Giampiero Ventura in typically forthright mood while at Torino ©Getty Images

Gian Piero Ventura has held his first press conference as Italy coach since replacing Antonio Conte; UEFA.com lists ten things you may not know about the 68-year-old, who will lead the Azzurri through qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

This is not the first time that Ventura has replaced Conte. He did so – with success – in the summer of 2009 after Conte led Bari to promotion to Serie A. Ventura guided Bari to tenth place in the top flight with a club record of 50 points in Serie A, drawing twice against José Mourinho's Inter and beating Juventus 3-1.

Ventura is an admirer of Josep Guardiola and Spanish football. "Just to have an experience in La Liga, I could coach for free in Spain for one year," he once said. "Mother, what I have just said! 'For free' are big words for a Genovese like me." People from Genoa have reputation for being "careful" with their money in Italy.

Aged 68, he is the second oldest coach to accept the Italy post after Fulvio Bernardini – who was a year older – in 1974. Bernardini lasted only six games in charge, until 8 June 1975. Ventura could therefore become Italy's oldest coach ever on 26 June 2017.

Ventura married Luciana – 28 years his junior – in Bari on 1 June, a few days before being officially announced as the new Italy coach. "I have to say my wedding was more important than becoming Italy coach, otherwise there'll be a divorce soon!" he joked.

Ventura led Torino to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 in 2014/15 after a memorable 3-2 win at Athletic Club, the Granata becoming the first Italian team to win in San Mamés. He is also the coach with most consecutive games on the Granata bench (217), third overall behind Luigi Radice and Emiliano Mondonico.

Leonardo Bonucci knows Ventura well already
Leonardo Bonucci knows Ventura well already©Getty Images

"He's a great motivator and very good at working with youngsters," Leonardo Bonucci, who played under Ventura at Pisa and Bari, told UEFA.com during UEFA EURO 2016. "I'm sure he's the right man to continue Conte's work." Ventura also describes himself as a good motivator, explaining: "Obama and his 'Yes we can' arrived long after me. I've been writing the same sentence for 20 years on the blackboard of my locker room."

• Bonucci, whose partnership with Andrea Ranocchia was the cornerstone of Ventura's Bari, is not the only Italy player to know the new Azzurri coach well. Angelo Ogbonna and Matteo Darmian played for him at Torino while Ciro Immobile scored 22 goals for the Granata in 2013/14, finishing the season as Serie A's top scorer. Meanwhile Torino players Marco Benassi, Davide Zappacosta, Daniele Baselli and Andrea Belotti are all expected to be promoted from the U-21 side.

• Ventura's most loyal player is goalkeeper Daniele Padelli, who played under him at Pisa, Bari and Torino. Padelli believed his coach was not going to take the Italy job. "He prefers to work with the team on a daily basis," he said in February when asked if Ventura was the right man for the national team.

EURO 2016 highlights: Germany 1-1 Italy(6-5 pens)
EURO 2016 highlights: Germany 1-1 Italy(6-5 pens)

• Ventura's attacking approach earned him a reputation of helping his strikers to score many goals. The 22-year-old Belotti struck 12 for Torino last term. "It's his first year playing with continuity," Ventura said of his striker. "He set a personal scoring record, is beginning to do the movements correctly. Belotti will make it to the national team. If he isn't picked by Italy it will be my failure.”

• At Bari Ventura was nicknamed 'Mr Libidine' after he said in his first press conference the reason he coached is "the libido it gives." He repeated the same sentence when he took over the job at Torino: "I could take a middle-table team in Serie A but trying to bring Torino back to Serie A is the real libido."

Top