Italy coach Lippi resigns three days after Cup win
ROME -- Italy coach Marcello Lippi resigned Wednesday, three days after guiding the Azzurri to their fourth World Cup title.
Despite widespread calls for him to stay, Lippi suggested weeks ago that he would resign. He feels he and his son, Davide, were attacked personally in the corruption scandal that has tainted Italian soccer.
"At the end of an extraordinary professional and human experience, experienced as the head of an exceptional group of players ... I believe my role is over as the guide of the Italian national team," Lippi said in a statement.
While he is not under investigation, Lippi was questioned by prosecutors before the World Cup about alleged pressure he received to select certain players for Italy's national team. Davide Lippi is under investigation for his work at player agency GEA World.
"I will continue to coach," Lippi said without elaborating.
Italian soccer federation chief Guido Rossi said Lippi had told him early in the World Cup campaign that he would resign and take six months off regardless of his team's performance because the job had been an "enormous effort."
Rossi said he tried to change Lippi's mind but respected his decision.
"I hope that after the six months he will take on a new role," Rossi added.
Lippi denied reports before the final linking him to Manchester United, saying that since he doesn't speak English it would be impossible for him to work for the Premier League club. He hasn't announced his future plans.
Italy beat France in Sunday's final 5-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie after extra time.
"Our coach goes out as a winner," Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro wrote on behalf of the team in a message posted on his Web site.
Cannavaro thanked Lippi "for the excellent job he did and for how he managed the team in such difficult moments. He passed on to us his strength and calm and the result is that we are now world champions."
Former Italy and AC Milan midfielder Roberto Donadoni has been touted as a possible successor to Lippi. After starting coaching in 2001, Donadoni joined Livorno in 2004, stepping down this year despite leading the Tuscan team to an unexpectedly high sixth place finish in Serie A.
Rossi said Donadoni's name was only "one of those going around," adding that a replacement would be announced in a few days.
Lippi replaced Giovanni Trapattoni after Italy was eliminated in the group stage of the 2004 European Championship. He led the team on a 25-game unbeaten streak, the Azzurri's second-longest streak after they went 30 games without defeat from 1935-39 -- a period that included Italy's second World Cup title in 1938.
Slovenia's 1-0 win in October 2004 was Italy's last loss under Lippi, whose players have earned 16 wins and nine draws since.
Lippi visited former Juventus coach Gianluca Pessotto at a Turin hospital after announcing his decision. Pessotto has been hospitalized with multiple fractures after falling from the roof at the club's headquarters June 27 in what Italian media described as a suicide attempt.
Pessotto was appointed Juventus' team manager due to a match-fixing scandal that could demote the Serie A club and strip it of the last two league titles it won. Verdicts are expected in the coming days.
Lippi began coaching Juventus in 1994 and won five Serie A titles, one Italian Cup, four Italian Supercups, the 1996 Champions League, and the European Supercup and Intercontinental Cup.
As a player, Lippi had a seven-season stint in Italy's top league with Sampdoria in the 1970s. He began coaching Genoa's academy squad in 1982, and soon won a youth tournament in Marseille.
Lippi started coaching at the lowest level of Italian professional soccer in 1985, guiding Pontedera in Serie C2. His Serie A debut was with Cesena in 1989, and he then led Lucchese, Atalanta and Napoli.