Fabio Capello was appointed as England's new national soccer manager Friday.
The Football Association said the Italian signed a 4 1/2-year contract through the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship. He will begin work on Jan. 7.
Capello replaces Steve McClaren, who was fired last month after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. His first task will be to make sure the team makes it to the next World Cup in South Africa, with qualifying matches starting in September. "When we set out to recruit the new manager, we said we were committed to appointing a world-class candidate," FA chief executive Brian Barwick said. "In Fabio Capello we have that man." Capello's staff will include assistants Franco Baldini and Italo Galbiati, goalkeeping coach Franco Tancredi and fitness coach Massimo Neri. The new manager will be introduced at a news conference in London on Monday.
The FA, already under fire for not appointing an English coach, said Capello will discuss with FA director Trevor Booking the possibility of bringing an Englishman into the coaching staff. Stuart Pearce, the England Under-21 coach who was at FA headquarters on Friday, is the favorite for that post.
Four days after former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho announced that he was not interested in the England job, the FA board approved the hiring of the former AC Milan, AS Roma and Real Madrid coach on Thursday. But both sides still had to finalize the terms of the contract worth a reported 6 million pounds (US$12.2 million; euro8.3 million) a year.
"Fabio is a winner," Barwick said. "His record over the last two decades speaks for itself. At every club he has managed, Fabio has won the league title and Trevor and I were left in no doubt of his passion and commitment to bring that success to the England team."
Brooking, a former West Ham and England midfielder who is highly respected in the game, said the FA was impressed by Capello's record of winning titles with every club he has coached. "Fabio Capello is widely recognized as one of the world's finest coaches. He has achieved huge success wherever he has worked and has the respect of everyone in football," Brooking said. Although Capello's record of nine domestic titles and one Champions League triumph is impressive, he will be under pressure immediately from England fans to create an impact. Because England failed to qualify for next year's Euros, the team has no competitive matches until European qualifying for the 2010 World Cup begins in September.
His first match in charge will be the Feb. 6 friendly against Switzerland at Wembley, followed by a March 26 trip to Paris to face France.
A renowned disciplinarian, Capello won't hold back from dropping some of the biggest names on the team.
There is speculation that he will take the captaincy away from Chelsea's John Terry, who has had disciplinary problems on and off the field. The only player Capello has firsthand experience of coaching is David Beckham, the Los Angeles Galaxy star who helped Capello win the Spanish title with Real Madrid last season. The former England captain has 99 caps and hopes that his 100th will come against Switzerland. Capello dropped Beckham from the Real Madrid side after his move to the Galaxy was announced last January. But Beckham's impressive performances in training forced the Italian to put him back into the lineup, and he was a key figure in the Spanish league title drive.
While the appointment of such a successful manager was welcomed by many England followers, the fact that the FA again hired a foreign coach has divided the nation. The move comes only 18 months after a Swede, Sven-Goran Eriksson, was in charge. "Hopefully he gets the support he needs because it's not going to be an easy job," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "There's a bit of work to do with the England team to get them to the level that you all expect. There's tremendous pressure on the England coach which Fabio will understand when he's two minutes into the job. But you need the experienced that he's got."
Reading's Steve Coppell and Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate, both of them English, and Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger are among those who opposed appointing a foreign coach. France's Raymond Domenech said he was amazed that the FA had not picked an Englishman.
"I find it a shame to go and find a Swede or an Italian," Domenech said. "Those who know the players best, the English mentality, are the English themselves. This is like saying to the other (English) coaches: 'You are in England, you are rubbish, we'll look elsewhere.' That's how I see it."