ROI boss Trapattoni praying for luck when Irish take to field against Croatia in Poznan



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor 



Trapattoni, the oldest head coach at the European Championships this summer, has been in coaching since the 1970s when becoming AC Milan boss


Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni insists he is due some good luck at major tournaments when his Irish side kick-off at Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine.

The 73-year-old Italian, formerly of AC Milan and Inter Milan, says that he has tasted more than his fair share of misfortune and disappointed during his previous experiences of managing in international football. In his press conference ahead of the Irish's Group C opener against Slaven Bilic's Croatians, Trapattoni recalls Thierry Henry's deliberate and unnoticed handball in the 2009 World Cup qualifier in Paris and also his Euro 2004 finals experience with his native Italy where on that occasion Denmark and Sweden drew 2-2 which meant they both progressed at Italy's expense as the Azzuri were knocked out of the group stages of the tournament.

Trapattoni added: "I go back to the match at the Euros, Sweden against Denmark and after that, France and Ireland. [Then France manager Raymond] Domenech said to me, "Giovanni, you know football...", and I said to Domenech, "Yes, I know football". Sweden against Denmark, I remember the game. Do you know what [then Uefa president Lennart] Johansson said? "If this game finishes in a draw, we will open an investigation". Do you know if he made the investigation? I'm still waiting for the investigation." 

Trapattoni's conspiracy theory, which was loudly and vigorously denied by the Scandinavian neighbours at the time, carried little weight as far as UEFA concerned although both incidents have left him feeling that his fortunes must change at some point in his favour. His current 23-man Irish crop will look to open their Euro 2012 campaign with victory over Croatia in Poznan on Sunday after three weeks of meticulous and hard-work preparation in terms of playing a number of friendly matches and rigorous training sessions.

But rather than enduring an emotion of excitement, the Italian has revealed he will approach their opening Group C fixture with a degree of tension and professionalism. He said: "I am not particularly excited, I'm a little tense. I want to keep a level of tension. If the manager doesn't keep the tension, the players can lose intensity. The manager needs to keep a positive tension."

Thousands of Irish fans have been making their 970 mile trip to Poland this week for the nation's first appearance at the finals of a major tournament in a decade while their first at the Euros since 1988. After four years at the helm, Trapattoni is well aware of the lengths to which they go to support their team, and he has challenged his players to re-pay their dedication on the pitch. The Italian added: "I repeat always, you must be proud about our country, our people, because they make a very big sacrifice - the money, the travel, the trip. The players know this. All players before the training, I repeated this to them. Our country expects, our supporters expect."  


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