Azzurri mastermind Valcareggi dies

Ferruccio Valcareggi, the coach who led Italy to the 1970 FIFA World Cup final and success at the 1968 UEFA European Championship, has died aged 86.

Respected coach
After a successful playing career with hometown club US Triestina Calcio and ACF Fiorentina, Valcareggi coached the Azzurri between 1966 and 1974, guiding them to European glory in 1968 as well as the runners-up slot at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

Replay success
Appointed as Italy coach immediately after the Azzurri's early elimination by North Korea in the 1966 World Cup, Valcareggi steered the Italian team to their first European crown two years later, beating Yugoslavia 2-0 in a replay, after the first match ended 1-1.

Memorable victory
Two years later, Italy went down 4-1 to Brazil in the World Cup final after one of the most memorable games in footballing history, their 4-3 win against West Germany in the semi-finals. Under Valcareggi's tutelage, the Azzurri lost just six games in eight years.

High praise
"I had my best moments in an Italy shirt under Valcareggi," said former left-back Giacinto Facchetti. "I was the team captain and we had a great relationship. It's a pity we did not manage to win the World Cup in 1970 but our semi-final against Germany will always be one of the best moments in the history of Italian football."

'Most loved'
Gianni Rivera added: "Italy achieved great results under Valcareggi. He was a champion as a human being. Everyone in the side had a fantastic relationship with him. That's why that national team was probably the best loved ever by Italian fans."