Marcello Lippi is number 11 in 90min's Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next three weeks.


While Fabio Capello was establishing himself 140km to the east, Juventus' Marcello Lippi was helping to define Italian football in the 1990s thanks to his side's performances in Turin.


But Lippi's glamorous managerial career actually all started in southern Italy, being offered the chance to take control of a cash strapped Napoli team - some players hadn't been paid in six months - where he knuckled down on tactics and man-management in his first major first-team appointment.


I Partenopei were still reminiscing about Diego Maradona's past success at the club by the time Lippi was brought in, although more pressing concerns for those within the club's upper echelons was their financial turmoil.

FUSSBALL: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 96/97 A.AMSTERDAM-J.TURIN 1:2 9.4.97

But against the odds and in somewhat of a turning point for Lippi, Napoli qualified for the UEFA Cup. 


It eventually turned out that Lippi wouldn't be presented with the chance to take Napoli into Europe, as his work at the Stadio San Paolo had done enough to impress the decision-makers in Turin.


"I only spent a year at Napoli but something very magical happened, something very few could understand," Lippi told Serie A. "An incredible bond was formed while I was there, it felt like I had been there for a decade.

"People used to warn me against betraying the Napoli fans, but I never betrayed anyone, how could I turn down the chance to coach a team like Juventus?"


Lippi, who by all means had the mentality of a winner even if he didn't have the CV, was appointed by Juventus in 1994 and immediately won a domestic double, also reaching the UEFA Cup final where they ultimately suffered a 2-1 defeat to Parma - Dino Baggio (no relation to Italian legend Roberto, unfortunately) scored twice for I Crociati, leaving Gianluca Vialli's as nothing more than a consolation.


He'd only had a young career at the highest level by that point, but Lippi was already making a name for himself as one of the best.


Career Honours

​Serie A (1994/95, 1996/97, 1997/98, 2001/02, 2002/03)
​Coppa Italia (1994/95)
​Supercoppa Italiana (1995/96, 1997/98, 2002/03, 2003/04)
​Intercontinental Cup (1996/97)
​UEFA Supercup (1996/97)
​UEFA Champions League (1995/96)
​AFC Champions League (2012/13)
Chinese Super League (2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14)​
​Chinese Cup (2012/12)
​World Cup (2005/06)
​World's Best Club Coach (1995/96, 1997/98)

It wasn't just on the pitch where Lippi's aura could be felt, however, as Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his book, Managing My Life. 


"Looking into his eyes is enough to tell you that you are dealing with somebody who is in command of himself," Ferguson said (via These Footy Times). "Those eyes are sometimes burning with seriousness, sometimes twinkling, sometimes warily assessing you – and always they are alive with intelligence."


Lippi spent nine of the next 10 years with Juventus - he also had an underwhelming fling with Inter during the 1999/2000 season - where he lifted a total of 13 major honours with the Bianconeri.

Juventus Training

But after a decade at club level, Lippi was offered the job in Italian football; coaching the national team.


Like Juventus, Lippi went on to have two separate spells in charge of the Azzurri, but it was just three days before he walked out of the Italian Football Federation's (FIGC) offices that the inspiring manager achieved the crowning jewel of his career.


Germany, 2006.


Group Stages Matchday 1 (vs. Ghana) - Italy find it tough to make the breakthrough despite having a foothold in the match. With just minutes left until half time, Andrea Pirlo chances his arm from distance and picks out the bottom corner. Vincenzo Iaquinta adds a second late on after rounding goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

Group Stages Matchday 2 (vs. United States) - It's a perfect start for the Azzurri as Alberto Gilardino heads home Pirlo's free-kick, but within a few minutes the game turned on its head as Cristian Zaccardo scored an own goal, while Daniele De Rossi was sent off. The US' Pablo Mastroeni and Eddie Pope were also sent off, either side of half-time.


Group Stages Matchday 3 (vs. Czech Republic) - It was Marco Materazzi - an early substitute for the injured Alessandro Nesta - who broke the deadlock with a towering header. Things were made that much easier for Italy when Jan Polak was sent off, and Filippo Inzaghi notched his first of the competition late on.


Last 16 (vs. Australia) - A game that caused a s*** load of controversy, Italy couldn't convert any of their chances and in the end had one hand tied behind their back when Materazzi was sent off. Left-back Fabio Grosso took a tumble in the 95th minute and won a fortunate penalty, which of course Francesco Totti dispatched.


Teams Managed

US Città di Pontedera​​1985-1986
​Robur Siena​1986-1987
​US Pistoiese 1921​1987-1988
Carrarese Calcio 1908​​1988-1989
​Cesena​1989-1991
​AS Lucchese Libertas​1991-1992
​Atalanta BC​1992-1993
​S.S.C. Napoli1993-1994​
​Juventus​1994-1999
​Internazionale​1999-2000
​Juventus2001-2004​
​Italy​2004-2006
​Italy2008-2010​
​Guangzhou Evergrande​2012-2014
​Guangzhou Evergrande​2014-2015
​China​2016-2019
​China​2019-present

Quarter-Finals (vs. Ukraine) - Italy needed an easier ride after the nail biting finish against Australia, and Gianluca Zambrotta's left-footed strike early on against Ukraine ensured that the Azzurri already had one foot in the last four. Luca Toni added two goals in the second half - a header and an open goal, because of course it was - to round off a comfortable win.


Semi-Finals (vs. Germany) - Playing against the hosts and pre-tournament favourites at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion was never going to be an easy job, but Italy were able to survive the opening 90 minutes and it looked like the game was going to penalties. But then, with 119 minutes on the clock, Grosso fired a curling effort bast Jens Lehmann to secure a late win. There was just enough time for Alessandro Del Piero to make the scoreline look more presentable with his first goal of the World Cup.

Final (vs. France) - While this Azzurri side are remembered today for their success at the World Cup, they showcased exactly how not to start a final by conceded a penalty inside seven minutes, which Zinedine Zidane scored with the most outrageous panenka. That lead didn't last long, however, Materazzi scored from a corner kick to bring Italy back on level terms.


In extra time, that's when the World Cup final's two goalscorers became intertwined in the most unimaginable way, with the camera shot of Zidane - whose last ever action as a professional footballer was to headbutt Materazzi - walking past the World Cup trophy being etched into fans' minds.


It went to penalties, and in strangely poetic circumstances it was David Trézéguet - he missed the decisive penalty for Lippi's Juve in the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2003 - who allowed Italy to be crowned as world champions, with semi-final hero Grosso scoring the winner.

Head coach of the Italian team Marcello

After his time with the national team was over, Lippi went on to move to China, both for club football and international football. He won three league titles, a domestic cup and the AFC Champions League with Guangzhou Evergrande, while the 71-year-old now back in charge of the Chinese national team.


His heyday is behind him and memories of his past success are now being taped over with new ones. 


But Lippi is one of the few managers in history to have inspired not one but two different generations of fans, as well as putting his former players (Antonio Conte, Didier Deschamps etc) on the road to becoming world-class managers themselves.


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