"I don't like what De Coubertin said," Italy coach Antonio Cabrini told UEFA.com about his ambition at UEFA Women's EURO 2013. "It is important to win, not only to be part of things."
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Antonio Cabrini is best known for winning the 1982 FIFA World Cup with Italy and European trophies with Juventus but he now has a new challenge – coaching his nation at UEFA Women's EURO 2013. Cabrini was appointed in May to succeed Pietro Ghedin, who had moved to become Malta men's coach, and swiftly confirmed qualification for the finals next June in Sweden, with the host nation one of Italy's Group A opponents in Halmstad along with Finland and Denmark. Cabrini spoke to UEFA.com about his winning mentality and his first job coaching women.
UEFA.com: What are your expectations for the final tournament?
Antonio Cabrini: I think and I certainly hope that I will have a competitive team at my disposal, arriving at the EURO while trying to be successful. I don't want to say how far we can get in the tournament, but I have a winning mentality and not a losing one. So this means that when I join a team, I want the team to be winning and not losing. Football is nice when you win, and not when you lose. I don't like what [Pierre] de Coubertin said; De Coubertin said that it is important to take part. No, it is important to win, not only to be part of things.
UEFA.com: How would you describe the start of your spell in charge?
Cabrini: It has really been very positive, because I started in women's football from May, so just a few months ago. The team I took over was in a very solid state of development. The team was in good condition, coached before by Ghedin, who then went to coach the Maltese men's national team. So in a certain way, it was already a formed team. And a very important and determining fact was that there was only a small step left to take – to qualify for the EURO final tournament.
I have to say that the team is very compact, very solid, but there is still room to improve. They can still improve. And there are important facts I can say about this team: for example, they qualified without even conceding one goal. They haven't lost a game, they won nine matches and drew one, so it's an optimal score.
UEFA.com: What have you learned?
Cabrini: I became part of a new world that I only knew indirectly; I mean women's football. I arrived well-prepared of course, but there were maybe a few things unknown to me, like how to really handle it. Because when you coach a women's team, you notice that although women's football in Italy is still at an amateur level, you [still] see the joy and willingness of these ladies. And so to have the possibility to work well at a technical and tactical level with these girls is nice.
They absorb all the information. I always say that girls in women's football are a bit like sponges, they absorb everything. So they are all there to learn, to improve, and I have to say that I have players in the team that have a lot of quality. And this is positive when compared to men's football, because you cannot work with male football players as easy as female ones. Men get tired easier, after a while they get annoyed, whilst girls are a lot more focused during training. They start with 100% and end at 100%. This is what I have learned. It's a balance they manage to find at the highest level.
UEFA.com What have you learned from the great coaches you played under?
Cabrini: Well I have tried to learn the best things when I was still an athlete, under [Giovanni] Trappatoni, [Enzo] Bearzot, coaches who supported me for many years in the national team and at Juventus. I try not put any emphasis on [my own career] when I coach and I speak to my athletes. I try to keep my football history out of it, because everybody knows it and I don't need to repeat it to whoever I have in front of me.
If I get asked about it, then I say something, but only small details, and only in a very calm way, so not putting too much emphasis on the things I carry with me, because they are my own beautiful memories. In this case I just have to transmit the message to the girls that if you want to perform well in this sport, you need to have the right mentality, which is more important than any technical aspect. You need to be strong mentally. If you are strong mentally, but you are not technically the best, you can still achieve great results.