2014 FIFA World Cup
Previous Clubs: Atalanta, Lecce, Verona, Venezia, Parma, Roma, Fiorentina
Honours: Serie B: 1999
When Marcello Lippi's Italy were knocked out of the 2010 World Cup having failed to win a single group stage match for the first time in the nation's history -- drawing against Paraguay and New Zealand before losing to Slovakia -- the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) pinpointed Cesare Prandelli as the ideal candidate to transform an outdated and slow Azzurri outfit back into a world heavyweight.
The Brescia-born coach had proved his winning credentials as a player with Juventus between 1979-85, lifting three Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, the European Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup, after spells at Cremonese and Atalanta.
The hard-boiled defensive midfielder returned to Atalanta to finish his professional career before taking over as a youth coach for the Orobici's academy. He tasted success with the youth side for seven years and despite an ill-fated seven-month spell as caretaker for the first-team -- they were relegated to Serie B on his watch -- he was rewarded with his first top-flight managerial role at Lecce in 1997.
His first permanent senior position did not go well, however, and after a poor run of results left Lecce languishing in the relegation zone, he was sacked after just half a season and decided to test his abilities in Italy's second tier, with Hellas Verona. It was here where Prandelli made his mark, leading the Gialloblu to promotion and achieving a remarkable ninth-place finish in Serie A despite a lack of resources.
Another promotion with Venezia followed before Prandelli took the reins at Parma, helping the side to back-to-back fifth-place finishes and qualification for the UEFA Cup, despite the board's decision to sell key players such as Marco Di Vaio.
In 2004, Serie A runners-up Roma came calling and Prandelli readily took on the challenge to compete at the top level in Italy and in the Champions League.
However, he quit after his wife Manuela forced him to quit after just two months in charge and she sadly died in 2007.
Prandelli's greatest achievements were recognised at Fiorentina where he took the Viola from relegation scrappers to a top-four finish in his maiden 2005-06 campaign. Unfortunately for Prandelli however, Fiorentina were stripped of their Champions League qualification and started the following campaign with a 15-point deduction due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
Against the odds, he managed to guide the Viola to a respectable sixth-place finish and in the ensuing campaign, he ousted Milan to finish fourth and missed out on a place in the UEFA Cup Final after losing a penalty shootout to Rangers, in a semi-final they dominated.
Prandelli has proved himself to be a shrewd tactician in European competition with his concise analysis of the opposition and Fiorentina were desperately unlucky not to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals in the 2009-10 season when they were knocked out by eventual runners-up Bayern Munich on the away goals rule.
His ability to combine a mixture of youth and experience into a team capable of matching Europe's best eventually caught the eye of the FIGC and he was appointed as coach of the Italy national team after their miserable attempt to retain the World Cup in 2010.
Despite losing a friendly to Ivory Coast in his first match in charge, Prandelli soon earned the total respect of the media and the Azzurri fans with his determination to rebuild the squad. Italy qualified for Euro 2012 unbeaten and boasted the tightest defence in Europe, having only conceded two goals in ten matches.
Pride and confidence had been restored in the national side and after upsetting Germany 2-1 in the semi-finals, Italy crashed out at the final hurdle to Spain, finishing runners-up with Prandelli receiving personal acclaim from President Giorgio Napolitano.
Prandelli came close to heaping revenge on Spain at the 2013 Confederations Cup but Leonardo Bonucci's missed sudden-death penalty ensured Italy narrowly missed out on the final.
Under Prandelli, Italy have regained their tags as one of the powerhouses of world football and after another unbeaten qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, they will no doubt be a major force at the finals in Brazil.
Strengths: His attractive and winning football philosophy has earned him popular support, especially with his ability to successfully integrate youth and controversial figures such as Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli into the side. Knows how to get the best out of his players and has a good relationship with the media.
Weaknesses: Has only managed to win one trophy (Serie B) in his coaching career and thus has failed to associate himself among the managerial elite.
Career High: Became Fiorentina's longest-serving manager of all-time and won the Serie A Coach of the Year in the 2007-08 season.
Career Low: Contributed to the relegation of Atlanta and Lecce in 1994 and 1998 respectively, leading people to question his ability to make the step up from player to coach.
Tactics: Malleable. The pragmatic coach is known for his ability to adapt his formation depending on the situation or the opposition. While the 4-3-1-2 formation has been known to serve him best, he sometimes tweaks to a 3-5-2 and on the rare occasion, a 4-3-3, to give Italy added width.
Quotes: "This Italy side is a victory for Prandelli. He is achieving great things and it is only right that he continues. I am excited by what this Nazionale is doing. They play positive football, the way I like it, managing to combine good play with results. That's the most you can ask for. This is a victory of the team. Prandelli has done exceptional work, giving an identity and a soul to this side." Walter Mazzarri praises Prandelli ahead of Italy's Euro 2012 final showdown with Spain.
Trivia: His son, Niccolo, is a fitness coach for both Parma and Italy.
Words: Max Bentley