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Ancient history: Byron Moreno and Trap's record at major tournaments

Ask Trap about the Ecuadorian and he could rattle on for hours in any language, but does that paper over the cracks a little?

Trap brings his boots to training in '94. just to keep Baggio on his toes.
Trap brings his boots to training in '94. just to keep Baggio on his toes.
Image: ©INPHO/Getty Images

AS YOU ALREADY know, coaching Ireland to European Championship glory is not Giovanni Trapattoni’s first job in football.

In fact, he’s been round the block once or twice.

His first taste of the dolce vita that surrounds international coaching came in 1994 when he was part of Italy’s coaching staff at USA ’94.

You may be familiar with that squad already. They lost their first game, and ended up finishing third in the group. Still, the Azzuri marched on and Roberto Baggio caught fire.

He was football’s golden child, with the world at his feet he bagged a brace in the first half hour against Bulgaria  But four days later, in the hot Pasadena sun, he stepped up to try and level the penalty shoot-out and instead blazed the ball over the bar to hand Brazil their fourth trophy.

In 2000, France were the doyens of the game. Like Spain today, everyone wanted to know and follow their secrets, their methodology. Under Dino Zoff, Italy pushed them to the pin of their collar. They were playing the 94th minute before Silvain Wiltord managed to equalise. David Trezegeut settled matters with a golden goal.

Zoff resigned after criticism from Silvio Burlesconi. Our Trap took up the reigns. It did not go well.

Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

2002 was something of a low ebb for Italian football, World Cup glory was four years away and Italy squeaked into the knock-out stages thanks to a win over Ecuador and a late strike from Alessandro DelPiero which rescued a point against Mexico.

It could have been the sign of growing momentum, but there was a bump in the road. It turned out that Ecuador had not been dispatched by two Christian Vieri goals after all. Byron Moreno was in the house.

Even Sepp Blatter admitted Italy woz robbed, calling the standard of Moreno’s refereeing inadequate” but denied any conspiracy designed to aid co-hosts South Korea.

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Trapattoni was deeply embarrassed at the exit, but always held the injustice close to his heart – and on the tip of his tongue. It was a full eight years before he would find vindication. Moreno was caught with bags of heroine strapped to his body at New York’s JFK airport.

In the wake of the arrest and conviction, Trap said: “It confirms more or less everything I thought about him at the time.

“I remember that game very well. The Francesco Totti red card and the annulment of a clear goal from Damiano Tommasi. We deserved to go through.”

In a seperate interview he told ESPN of his hope that his tenure would be less harshly criticised:

“I saw even before going out onto the pitch against South Korea that it wasn’t going to go well with the referee. Now maybe Trapattoni’s reign on Italy’s bench will be read under a different light.”

“The facts now are so serious that they speak for themselves,” he added.

But before news of Luciano Moggi’s great Calciopoli filtered through, the Azzuri were had been very quick to cast aspersions and tar others with the brush being thrown around their own house.

In 2004, Trapattoni was still in charge when Gianluigi Buffon alleged foul play. Sweden and Denmark drew 2-2 in the final group game at Portugal’s European Championships; a scoreline with unusually short odds of 7/2. A result which took both Scandinavian sides through and sent Italy home.

Overall

In truth though, Italy had not been good enough to go through. They failed to beat either Scandinavians and only an injury time strike from Antonio Cassano pulled them clear of Bulgaria. Briefly, they believed they had pulled it out of the fire – just as they had done in ’94 and ’02 – news soon filtered through to turn tears of joy into anger.

Overall then, Trapattoni’s record at major tournaments is less than impressive. He will claim mitigating circumstances, but a grand total of seven games, eight goals and just two wins have counted against him.

However, luck and shoddy refereeing, we are told, has a way of leveling things out over time. If Giovanni Trapattoni is to get his payback, the time must be now.

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Here we go: Trap aims to give Ireland ‘what it has asked for’

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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