Trap as Italy boss in 2004. Hochzwei/Hochzwei/Press Association Images

Trapattoni aims to go out on a high against Azzurri

The Ireland manager spoke of “playing with honour” in the final Group C game in Poznan tomorrow.

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI FINDS himself in a very unusual situation tomorrow.

Eight years ago, infamously, his Italian team were knocked out of Euro 2004 by a mutually beneficial 2-2 draw between Sweden and Denmark after all three teams had ended level on five points.

Tomorrow, the same result between Spain and Croatia will eliminate the Italian team he now opposes. It all adds a huge layer of intrigue to what is already a fight for pride from Ireland.

“The same things don’t always repeat themselves,” Trapattoni insisted. “I think it’s actually because that they have occurred in the past that the bodies in charge of this will keep a close eye on things. There are still doubts about [the Sweden-Denmark draw in 2004]. But I don’t see this happening again.

“I must admit that, when situations like this go on, we’re all ready to think that we Italians are the masters at making these agreements. This is what we’re infamous for, if you will. But I think the grass is always greener… these things have happened all over the place, not just Italy. There are great scars left by this. We must play our own game. I have to ask for the greatest commitment possible.

“It’s no longer decisive for Ireland but, as I’ve already highlighted, we’ve got to show respect for a country that has supported this team when 3-0 down against Spain. Ireland is a country that deserves a great deal of respect so we have to play our own game.

Against Italy, we play for honour and the honour of the nation, with our supporters with us all the way. We all have a duty to do the best we can. Obviously, we do not want to go home with another defeat.”

“Football is important in the social aspect and this is the same for Ireland.

“This is what football offers you: great situations.”

Another great situation is the fact that Damien Duff will earn his 100th cap – only the fifth player in Irish history. As such, Robbie Keane has passed the captain’s armband onto him.

Trapattoni, naturally, only had praise for the day’s skipper.

“I am very happy for Robbie Keane to pass the armband on to Duff for his 100th cap. All of us should express gratitude to Damien, who is not just an excellent footballer, but a role model and example for future generations.”

With Duff’s place confirmed, Trapattoni then went on to announce that the future generations will actually have to wait: he will name the same team that started against Croatia.

Obviously, we do not want to go home with another defeat. I will play the same team that brought us qualification out of respect for my players.”

Trapattoni, meanwhile, also expressed great respect for his former player and opposing manager, today, Cesare Prandelli.

“I think he’s done a very good job since taking over. He’s changed players, given the squad a sense of professionalism, respect, a playing style. He got them through the qualifying campaign in excellent fashion.

“So, I think he’s demonstrated he’s very wise. He’s shown this with the way he’s dealt with players like [Mario] Balotelli, [Antonio] Cassano. He’s got great character so I’m very happy for some I’ve really rated as a player, and especially a coach.”

Having mentioned the players, Trapattoni also spoke of how he hope Balotelli would eventually emulate Cassano.

“He [Balotelli] has had problems in the past and we’ve said the same things about Antonio Cassano: a young boy, someone who needs to grow up but I think Cassano has grown up a lot.”

Duff plays down taking captain’s armband for 100th cap

‘What has he won as a manager?’ – Trap takes a swipe at Keane

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