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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 10:41 GMT
On the trail of Capello
By Brian Alexander

Fabio Capello
Capello does not seem to be a hit with Milan's cab drivers
On any trip abroad when chasing a story, taxi drivers invariably play a key part in the process.

It proved to be the case again in Milan.

Like a cabbie in London, these kings of the road can be insightful and informative about local opinion.

Chat to them and you get a sense of how the land lies.

I knew that Fabio Capello had a family apartment in a suburb north-west of Milan called Legnano.

The driver who took me there loathed Capello.

How could any man of Milan dislike a coach who had won four Scudetto and the European Cup for the city? "He likes himself too much," came the reply.

The sub-plot of that animosity is that Capello has never thought twice about moving from club to club, opportunity to opportunity.

In a country where football is part of the religious and political fabric of society, loyalty (or lack of it for professional advancement) can be a tricky subject.

Especially when a top coach moves on to Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid and repeats the success story of collecting silverware.

Situated on the edge of an industrial estate, Capello lives in a modern, red-brick building set off a dusty road and behind imposing metal electronic gates.

It looked an unlikely base but my doubts were dispelled when we spotted Capello himself standing in the driveway.

"Can we do an interview?" I asked. "No," was the firm but warm response.

It was the kind of "No" that gives someone like me nowhere else to go. It was emphatic, inviting an awkward silence rather than a second attempt.


Capello had seen the Football Association hierarchy in London the day before and laid out his demands for Team Fabio to join him at Soho Square.

"Why are you here in Milan? Why aren't you in London signing your contract?" I ventured.

In broken but half-decent English, Capello insisted he was with his wife awaiting the arrival of a furniture removal lorry to arrive from Madrid, where he had recently vacated his grace and favour property he used during his reign at Real.

Various former players and colleagues talked about Capello's intelligence, his determination and his focus on getting results.

"You might find the style of play boring at times," admitted Roberto Beccantini of the respected newspaper La Stampa.

"But you will get the results. That is the Capello way."

Beccantini is as close to Capello as any journalist can be. "I have worked hard to create a bond with him for nearly 20 years," he said.

"But we are not friends. We have a professional relationship. He tells me what I need to know, but that is it."

And another freelance writer spoke about Capello as being "intimidating".

He said: "If you ask a stupid question, you do not even get an answer. In the past I have seen him bring a formal press conference before a big game to an end because he didn't like the questions. He just gets up and leaves."

And that same steely approach will be seen on the training pitch with his players. He won't be a father-figure, but the boss.

Capello gets what he wants, as has been proved with the appointment of Franco Baldini, Italo Galbiati, Massimo Neri and Franco Tancredi as his assistants.

If the cab drivers of Milan are anything to go by, we may not love Capello, but we will love what he does for England's reputation around the world.

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