Enzo Bearzot

Italy national football team 1982 FIFA World Cup Marco Tardelli
Enzo Bearzot
Enzo Bearzot 2.jpg
Bearzot c. 1975 depicted on a Panini football card
Personal information
Full name Vincenzo Bearzot
Date of birth (1927-09-26)26 September 1927
Place of birth Aiello del Friuli, Kingdom of Italy
Date of death 21 December 2010(2010-12-21) (aged 83)
Place of death Milan, Italy
Playing position(s) Defensive midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1946–1948 Pro Gorizia 39 (2)
1948–1951 Internazionale 19 (0)
1951–1954 Catania 95 (5)
1954–1956 Torino 65 (1)
1956–1957 Internazionale 27 (0)
1957–1964 Torino 164 (7)
Total 409 (15)
National team
1955 Italy 1 (0)
Teams managed
1964–1967 Torino (youth)
1968–1969 Prato
1969–1975 Italy U23
1975–1986 Italy
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Vincenzo "Enzo" Bearzot (Italian pronunciation: [(vintʃ)ˈɛntso bearˈtsɔt; -dzɔt];[1][2] 26 September 1927 – 21 December 2010) was an Italian professional football manager and former footballer, who played as a defender or midfielder. He led the Italian national team to victory in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Nicknamed Vecio (vecchio, 'old man'),[3] he has coached the Italian national football side the most (104 times, between 27 September 1975 to 18 June 1986).[4]

A year after his death, an award was named in honour of the 1982 World Cup winning coach, the "Enzo Bearzot Award", for the best Italian coach of the year.[5]

Club career

Bearzot with Torino in 1958–59

Born in Aiello del Friuli, in the friulian Province of Udine in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Bearzot was son of a bank teller and attended high school at Udine.[6] He had a moderately successful playing career as a centre back. Enzo Bearzot made his debut in professional football with Pro Gorizia in 1946, a team he left in 1948 to join Internazionale. After three seasons with the Nerazzurri, Bearzot moved to Sicily and joined Catania for three more seasons.

In 1954 he moved to Torino, which was rebuilding after the tragedy of Superga in 1949. In two seasons as a starter he played 65 matches, scoring one goal. In 1956 he returned to Internazionale where he appeared 27 times, the last of which was a 3–2 defeat at Bologna on 9 June 1957. The following year he returned to Torino. Here, he made 164 appearances and scored 7 goals for the Granata before retiring in 1964, aged 37, to take up coaching.

In his playing career, Bearzot totalled 251 appearances in Italy's Serie A, being called up once to play for Italy, making his debut on 27 November 1955 in a 0–2 1955–56 Central European International Cup match defeat to Hungary.[7]

Managerial career

Bearzot, manager of the Italian national team, celebrates with Tardelli and Bettega after a victory over England in November 1976

After having ended his playing career, Bearzot became assistant coach of Torino, working alongside Italian managers Nereo Rocco and Giovan Battista Fabbri. He successively moved in Tuscany to take his first head coaching job in Tuscany at the helm of Serie C side Prato.

However, Bearzot did not go on a club career, and chose instead to start working for the Italian Football Federation: first as under-23 head coach, then as assistant coach of Ferruccio Valcareggi in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. After the German World Cup, Bearzot was appointed as assistant coach of Fulvio Bernardini, and was then promoted head coach of Italy in 1975. Bearzot drove the national team to fourth place in the 1978 FIFA World Cup.[8] This performance was repeated in the 1980 European Championship, hosted by Italy.[8]

One of the widely remembered pictures of the 1982 FIFA World Cup is Bearzot (right) playing scopone with Dino Zoff, Franco Causio and Sandro Pertini, President of Italy

In the 1982 FIFA World Cup, after poor performances in the three first matches, Bearzot announced the so-called silenzio stampa (press silence) in order to avoid rising criticism from the Italian press. Following that, the Italian team finally started to play its best football, defeating Argentina and Brazil (see Italy v Brazil (1982 FIFA World Cup)) in the second round, Poland in the semi-final and Germany in the Final, and winning the World Cup for the first time since 1938.[8]

Italy did not qualify for the Euro 1984.[8] Bearzot resigned after the 1986 FIFA World Cup, which saw Italy being defeated in the round of 16 by France.[8] Bearzot was criticised during the latter tournament for relying too heavily on players from the 1982 team, as some of them were past their best form by 1986.[8]

He holds the record for the most times on the bench as manager of Italy, with 104 appearances.[9][10]

After a long period of inactivity, Bearzot was appointed President of the FIGC Technical Sector (Settore Tecnico, the main football coaching organization of Italy) in 2002. He left this office in 2005.

Style of management

Bearzot was highly regarded for his tactical prowess, meticulousness, and versatility as a manager. He often studied his opponents in great detail before matches, in order to plan out and prepare his team's strategy; he was also known for his ability to adopt different tactics, formations, and playing styles, depending on the style of play of the opposition, and for having the capacity to find a system which best suited his players. At the same time, he preferred not to impose set plays and tactical plans on his players, as he believed that above all, they should have the freedom to express their ability and individual talent. At the 1978 World Cup, his Italian side often adopted an attractive, offensive-minded possession game based on passing, creativity, movement, attacking flair, and technique, due to the individual skill of his players; the front three – made up of centre-forward Paolo Rossi, and wingers Roberto Bettega and Franco Causio – would also often change positions with one another, in order to disorient the opposing defenders.

Bearzot (right) with Argentine former player Omar Sívori during an interview in 1980

At the 1982 World Cup, he usually used a fluid 4–3–3 formation, which was capable of shifting into a 4–4–2, 5–2–3, or 3–5–2 formation throughout the course of a match; in his 4–3–3 system, Bearzot usually used two creative wingers (usually Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani, the latter of whom usually also served as a second striker) and a centre-forward (usually Paolo Rossi) up-front, a playmaker (usually Giancarlo Antognoni) and two hard–tackling box-to-box players (usually Marco Tardelli and either Gabriele Oriali or Gianpiero Marini – the latter two of whom usually operated in more of a holding role, while the former served as a mezzala) in midfield, while in defence, he used a sweeper (usually Gaetano Scirea) in front of the goalkeeper, whose responsibilities were both defensive and creative, as well as either three man-marking defenders, or two attacking full-backs and a man-marking centre-back or stopper; his team's defensive play was based on the zona mista system (or "Gioco all'Italiana"), a cross between zonal marking and man-marking systems, such as catenaccio.

In Italy's second round match against Brazil, Bearzot further demonstrated his tactical astuteness by changing Italy's formation in order to contain the Brazilian midfield and prevent them from dominating the match with their possession game. In the final against Germany, due to an injury to playmaker Antognoni in midfield, he also altered Italy's formation to a 5–2–3, by instead fielding Claudio Gentile as an additional man-marking centre-back, who would help left wing-back Antonio Cabrini to cover Germany's winger, Pierre Littbarski, while Cabrini would mark Germany's attacking right back, Manfred Kaltz; Italy's other two man-marking centre-backs, Fulvio Collovati and Giuseppe Bergomi, were dealt with the task of marking wing forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and centre-forward Klaus Fischer respectively, while the sweeper, Scirea, was given the freedom to help double mark forwards, advance into midfield in order to win the ball and start attacking plays, or get forward. Due to the versatility of his players and their tendency to switch positions throughout matches, Bearzot's side were known for their ability to exploit spaces in the opposition; his team's defensive strength was demonstrated by his players' ability to cover for each other and anticipate their opponents in order to win back the ball. His side were also highly adept at subsequently creating goalscoring opportunities from quick and highly organised counterattacks after winning back possession, as well as being capable of keeping the ball and circulating possession in order to conserve energy.

In addition to his skills as a tactician, Bearzot was also known for having a close relationship with his individual players, as well as for his ability to motivate them, create a united team environment, and foster a winning mentality.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] In his obituary for Bearzot in The Guardian following the manager's death in 2010, Brian Glanville noted that "...Enzo Bearzot ... revitalised the national side. He imposed a far more flexible, adventurous style of play and led the team to victory at the World Cup in Spain in 1982."[13]

Personal life

Bearzot was married to Luisa; together they had a son Glauco, and a daughter, Cinzia.[13]


Bearzot died on 21 December 2010[13] in Milan at the age of 83, exactly 42 years after Vittorio Pozzo;[19] he was buried in the family tomb in the cemetery of Paderno d'Adda.[20][21][22][23]


As a player


As a manager




Grande ufficiale OMRI BAR.svg
2nd Class / Grand Officer: Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 1982[29]


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  2. ^ Canepari, Luciano. "Bearzot". DiPI Online (in Italian). Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ L'Italia piange Enzo Bearzot – Calcio – Sportmediaset. Sportmediaset.mediaset.it (21 December 2010). Retrieved on 2016-07-23.
  4. ^ Italian National Team Coaches. Rsssf.com (14 July 2016). Retrieved on 2016-07-23.
  5. ^ "Leicester's Claudio Ranieri wins Enzo Bearzot award for best Italian coach". ESPNFC. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
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  7. ^ "UNGHERIA – ITALIA". Italian Football Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
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  9. ^ Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (ed.). "Italian national team coaches". rsssf.com. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Enzo BEARZOT - FIFA Profile". FIFA.com. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  11. ^ ANDREA COCCHI (8 July 2012). "Bearzot, un genio della tattica" (in Italian). Mediaset. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Bearzot: 'Football is first and foremost a game'". FIFA.com. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d Brian Glanville (21 December 2010). "Enzo Bearzot obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Gioco All'italiana: An Unbiased Explanation". Medium. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  15. ^ "82: The original and harshest Group of Death". FourFourTwo. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  16. ^ SCONCERTI, MARIO (9 November 1991). "COME BEARZOT, DARA' IL POTERE AGLI ECLETTICI". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  17. ^ Rahaman, Vijay (23 March 2020). "1982 World Cup: Italy against all odds". Football Italia. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  18. ^ Fontana, Mattia (12 August 2014). "La storia della tattica: dal Catenaccio al calcio totale" (in Italian). Eurosport. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Enzo Bearzot - Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  20. ^ "1982 World Cup winning coach Enzo Bearzot dies". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
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  23. ^ "Italian coaching legend Enzo Bearzot dies at 83". BBC Sport. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  24. ^ Jamie Rainbow (14 December 2012). "World Soccer Awards – previous winners". World Soccer.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Albo "Panchina d'Oro"" (in Italian). 1 February 2010. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Hall of fame, 10 new entry: con Vialli e Mancini anche Facchetti e Ronaldo" [Hall of fame, 10 new entries: with Vialli and Mancini also Facchetti and Ronaldo] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  27. ^ Jamie Rainbow (4 July 2013). "The Greatest Manager of all time". World Soccer.
  28. ^ Jamie Rainbow (2 July 2013). "The Greatest XI: how the panel voted". World Soccer.
  29. ^ "Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana Bearzot Sig. Enzo". quirinale.it (in Italian). Il Quirinale. 25 October 1982. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.