Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Trapattoni: Mushrooms off the menu for Republic

So finally, we have a coherent insight into the thoughts of Giovanni Trapattoni.Four months into his role as Republic of Ireland manager, Trapattoni’s press conferences remain scattered in parts, with his determination to speak English meaning that the real value of his comments get lost in translation.

Occasionally, we get the odd nugget. But the overriding sentiment is that if he used his interpreter all the time rather than to clarify an odd word here or there, we would get far more interesting opinions out of the 69-year-old.

Therefore, it’s just as well that a journalist from an Italian newspaper has met Trapattoni over the last couple of days to conduct an interview which - when translated into English - includes some notable revelations, particularly Trapattoni’s positive opinions of Kevin Doyle and Shay Given but not so positive opinions on the squad’s chosen pre-match diet.

"I gave them carte blanche when it came to their diets", says Trapattoni. "I did not want to change their established habits.

"However, I saw the players eating mushrooms before a friendly, and I was stunned into silence for several seconds.

"I then told them that mushrooms are banned on matchdays - both for breakfast and for dinner.

Speaking to an Italian audience, Trapattoni spoke glowingly of some members of his current side with strike pair Robbie Keane and Doyle hailed, while he has recommended that Serie A clubs have a look at Given.

"Robbie Keane is the leader of my team, and to think that some people wanted him out of the side," said Trapattoni.

"Robbie has personality and talent, and together with Kevin Doyle they form a partnership worthy of a Champions League side.

"I would recommend Italian clubs to buy Shay Given from Newcastle. He resembles Gianluigi Buffon, and I am not exaggerating when I say this. He is a born goalkeeper, and there is a vacancy for players like this in Serie A.

"We don’t have Cristiano Ronaldo type players in our side, and we don’t dribble with the ball like the Brazilians and Portuguese.

"But we move the ball around at 1,000mph. The problem for us is that the Irish league is like the lower levels of Serie B.

"Also, many of my players are not first-team regulars at their clubs. However, we are developing as a team. I spend hours watching videos looking out for young players. There must be some good ones around.”

Trapattoni has acknowledged that getting his message across to his players does not come easily. Neither has adapting to other new experiences, like the miserable Irish weather.

"They have learned a few words of Italian, like ’buon giorno’ (hello) and ’grazie’ (thank you), and my English is improving.

"Some expressions don’t come into my mind, but using gestures - and my interpreter - helps me out.

Naturally, Trapattoni had to discuss the novelty of taking on his own country, but he isn’t going to come out and wish ill on his homeland. In that regard, he has taken the diplomatic approach.

"Ireland are due to play Italy and a friend reminded me that it will be on April 1. He urged me not to play any pranks on Italy," he said.

"It will be a strange game for me. Let’s put it this way I want Italy to win all their games, but to draw their two matches against the Republic of Ireland. I think that would be a fair compromise."

If you believe he’s actually thinking that way, then you’re probably under the influence of a different kind of mushrooms.

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