Giovanni Trapattoni tonight spoke of his humiliation at the latest match-fixing scandal to engulf Italian football.
The 73-year-old was mobbed by fans after putting his Ireland players through their paces at the Stadio Comunale Alberto Benedetti in Borgo A Buggiano this afternoon.
However, while the Tuscan sun shone on Trapattoni and his players, a dark cloud was casting a brooding shadow over his native country’s footballers once again.
The Ireland boss said: “Every moment, we have in Italy a surprise. Obviously, we are not only sad, but we are also disappointed, very, very much because Italian football is not only this.
“We have had it in the past and also now. We don’t have a good reputation and it’s important that we clean up this situation because we can’t accept every two or three years this disappointment and humiliation for Italian football.”
Asked if he was ashamed by the news which broke today, Trapattoni said: “I have spent the past 15 years in other countries, in Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and when you are proud about your country’s football, you can achieve good results.
“This situation humiliates us and me particularly, and I can say the grass is not always green.”
Trapattoni’s comments came after police investigating allegations of match-fixing made a series of arrests, among them Lazio skipper Stefano Mauri, and questioned Juventus coach Antonio Conte and defender Domenico Criscito, who was with the national squad at their pre-Euro 2012 training camp.
The former Italy manager could at least console himself with the pressing matter of his current team’s preparations for the finals, which get underway for them against Croatia in Poznan on June 10.
He will name his final squad tomorrow, all the while hoping goalkeeper Shay Given and defender John O’Shea’s injuries do not force him into making a late change.
That would be allowed within the rules up until the day of the first game, provided that any injury was confirmed by UEFA medical officials.
However, while Given is hoping to return to full training – he worked alone this afternoon – on Wednesday, Trapattoni revealed O’Shea, who has significantly stepped up his rehabilitation, has a 90 per cent chance of playing in tomorrow night’s friendly against a Tuscan Select side comprising players from the region’s lower league outfits.
He said: “Shay is all right for Wednesday. We will have to look after the last test tomorrow, but it’s 90 per cent [certain] that John O’Shea will play.”
Central defender Darren O’Dea sat out the session with a thigh problem, but only as a precaution.
Trapattoni said: “He has a little bit of pain. He wanted to train, but we advised him to stay quiet. It’s okay, it’s no problem.
“It’s a thigh muscle, but it’s okay. He wanted to train, but he was better resting. Also tomorrow, he won’t play.”
The Republic’s presence in Montecatini, where Irish Week has been declared, has created a great deal of interest, and rekindled memories for their manager, who has used the facilities in the area on several occasions in the past.
Trapattoni said: “It’s a beautiful village and it’s also near the airport. Many other locations are too far and you need two hours on the bus. This is close to the airport.
“I was also many years with other teams – Milan, Juventus, Cagliari – and I always felt good here.”
Full-back Kevin Foley will start tomorrow night’s game at the Stadio Melani in Pistoia after shaking off a hamstring problem, while Paul Green, who only joined up with the squad yesterday following Keith Fahey’s withdrawal, will also play a part.