The Little Italian That Could
2007. The Messiah had arrived. The man who could turn water into wine had graced our country with his managerial grace and stylish spectacles. Fabio Capello had the doors to his football factory open and England had the golden ticket. Excitement lined the streets. People desperate for a shake of the hand from the guy whose touch could turn anything to platinum.
He can’t speak English? Not important.
The anticipation was in every England fans eyes. This was it, “40 years of hurt” was about to get an appointment with the most prestigious doctor in football. This guy was the boss among bosses.
Guaranteed stricter than your parents, as an England player you weren’t allowed phones at the dinner table. If you wanted to go out with a girl he needed to meet her first. And her parents. And you had to be in by dark and in bed by the end of Corrie.
But this was about the approach more than football. Gone were the days of booze and coke-fueled nights out featuring the cream-of-the-crop in foreign prostitutes.
Mr. Wolly with the Brolly himself looked like Winnie-the-Pooh compared to the stern face italian stallion who, at the same time wouldn’t look out of place with a shell on his back at Seaworld.
But this was it. This was the era. We would be bigger than the big sides like Spain and Brazil. Except not as agile, skillful, entertaining, dominating, determined or good looking as them.
2009. We were on the way to the golden chalice. The Holy Grail that is the World Cup is surely ours. The qualifiers probably could’ve been played by any Royal Oak Sunday side. Capello nearly offered to manage one of the teams playing against England to give them a fighting chance. Because that’s the man he is, always thoughtful and willing to help others, and never for money. Ever.
2010. This was the year of celebration, we all knew it. We expected it. The World Cup is just the start. The next step is world domination. Our greatness would eclipse our competitors to such an extent we would eventually only need 5 players on the pitch. And even then it would be 5 too many as the fear-striking England name would be enough to make the opposition curl into a ball and weep until we took their lunch money and made them say “uncle”. Earth would then be re-named “England” with Capello walking on water.
Hold on. One step at a time.
We arrive at the World Cup. We scrape through the group stage in what is a shaky start to our breakthrough campaign. Doubters start to surface and are immediately greeted by hostility and disgust by the Capello faithful, the Messiah will get us through this.
But get through we didn’t. The Capello empire crumbled and collapsed upon the mans very eyes as the demonic and evil force that is Germany rip through and destroy England like a child rips the wings off a squirming fly for their own twisted amusement.
Fabio is exiled. Statues depicting his greatness are torn down, burned, laughed at, then urinated on for effect. Fabio Capello was not the King anymore, he was the jester who’d taken everyone in England around for a cheap laugh.
2012. Fabio Capello resigns. The-little-italian-that-could went from hero to zero while practically achieving nothing but wasting everyones time and making us feel foolish in the process, as we probably all should’ve realised he made next to no progression in learning the English language in over four years.
Capello is now homeless and lives somewhere in Lancashire with his dog Rex whom he bought in return for a 6 pack of Carlsberg and 9 expired banana flavoured condoms.
Forty years of hurt and England fans are still awaiting the remedy.