Fabio Capello was introduced as England's new soccer coach Monday, promising to bring "great results" to a national team that has repeatedly failed to live up to expectations. The former AC Milan, AS Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid coach signed a 4 1/2-year contract on Friday worth a reported 6 million pounds (US$12.06 million; euro8.4 million) a year, making him the highest paid national manager in world soccer.
The 61-year-old Italian replaces Steve McClaren, who was fired last month after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. His first task is to make sure England qualifies for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"It's an honor," Capello said at a packed news conference broadcast live in Britain. "It's a dream come true. It's a job that everyone wants and carries great expectations. We will work hard to achieve our objectives."
Capello, who starts officially on Jan. 7, said he will meet with players and coaches to identify the problems which have affected the underachieving England team.
"I think this is a great team," he said in Italian. "I am convinced that we can have great results."
Capello said he was as surprised as anyone that England didn't qualify for Euro 2008.
"The pride of wearing this (England) shirt should be a stimulus for all the players to give more," he said. "I want to see them play for their national team the way they play for their clubs." Capello spoke mainly in Italian, with a few words in English. He said he will work hard to learn English in time for his first training session with the players next month before the Feb. 6 friendly against Switzerland.
"I am convinced that in a month when I meet with the national team I'll speak English," he said.
Capello, who coached David Beckham at Real Madrid, was guarded about whether he will pick the former England captain for the national squad. Beckham, who is now with the Los Angeles Galaxy, has made 99 national team appearances and hopes to reach the 100 mark against Switzerland.
"I think Beckham is an important player for England and I will take him into serious consideration," said Capello, who dropped Beckham from Madrid's lineup after the player announced his move to the Galaxy. "But we still have a month to make decisions." Capello, who is bringing in four Italian assistants with him, was introduced by FA chief executive Brian Barwick as an "outstanding man with an outstanding record" who fits all the qualifications to handle one of the most pressured job in sports.
"He's a winner with a capital W," Barwick said. "We know we owe the fans. We believe Fabio Capello is the man to restore our pride."
Before coming to London, Capello spoke on Italian TV and said England needs to find more confidence.
"It's a team that needs to find itself and that will be my role," he said. "The England national team seems to have lost the determination and grit that they had in the past. We will have to create in a short time the right atmosphere and the right characteristics to get results."
Because he speaks little English, Capello is expected to have an interesting time with the English press, who frequently gave his predecessors, Sven-Goran Eriksson and McClaren, a rough ride. Eriksson quit two years early after failing to get England further than the quarterfinals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and Euro 2004. McClaren was dismissed after a 3-2 loss at home to Croatia meant the team didn't qualify for Euro 2008. Capello arrives with an impressive record at club level. He won 14 titles with the four clubs he managed, including the Champions League with Milan. That 4-0 triumph over heavily favored Barcelona in the 1994 final in Athens, Greece, was one of the best performances in the history of the competition.
Capello has no experience of English soccer, however, and was in Italy fulfilling TV commitments over the weekend.