Austrian Hermann Felsner made a great start for foreign coaches in Italy when he won the 1936-37 Coppa Italia, but since then no-one has come close to Sven-Göran Eriksson.
Throughout the history of the prestigious Coppa Italia, there have been a fair few foreigners in the dugout who led their sides to the trophy, including big names in the modern era like Jose Mourinho of Portugal winning it with Inter as part of their historic treble and Rafa Benitez of Spain leading Napoli all the way.
But none of them can match Eriksson, who picked up his second with Lazio in 99-00. Only Max Allegri and Roberto Mancini have been able to collect four trophies each, although it is needless to say that they’re both Italian.
The Swede’s first triumph came as Roma coach in 1985-86, when he led the Giallorossi to the Final after eliminating big sides like Inter and Fiorentina along the way and faced a stern test in a strong Sampdoria at the time.
The first leg in Genoa ended in a 2-1 defeat, when Roberto Mancini scored the first goal for the home side at Marassi. But during the home leg at the Olimpico, Stefanio Desideri made it 1-0 from the penalty spot right before half-time, before Toninho Cerezo decided the tie in the 89th minute and made sure Roma picked up the trophy with a 3-2 aggregate victory, also in part thanks to Sandro Tovalieri’s goal in the away leg.
The following season would be the last for Eriksson with the Giallorossi, and he didn’t manage to get past the last 16 of the tournament in 1986-87, but he did taste glory eight years later, when he returned to Italy from his second stint at Benfica.
It was in his second season at the helm of the Blucerchiati that the former England boss was to go all the way again.
After a goalless stalemate at the Stadio del Cornero against Ancona, they made no contest of the return leg at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris as an Attilio Lombardo brace and goals from Sebastiano Vecchiola, Pietro Vierchowod, Mauro Bertarelli and Alberico Evani saw Samp thrash their opponents 6-1. It also meant Eriksson had equalled the records set by Toni Cargnelli of Austria and Vujadin Boskov of Serbia, who too had won Coppe with Samp.
With only compatriot Nils Liedholm ahead of him as the most successful foreign coach in the Coppa Italia, Eriksson moved on to Lazio after his highly-successful stint with the Ligurians and led them to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup the following year.
But at Lazio, he was going for the top prize – the Scudetto. It was a trophy he eventually won in 1999-00, but he began life in Rome two years prior by building on his success in the Italian cup competition.
Flying past Napoli, local rivals Roma and big guns Juventus on their way to the Final, Milan seemed destined to go all the way after the first leg at San Siro. George Weah stole the game in the 90th minute and made sure the Rossoneri were ahead at half-time of the 180-minute Final. But just as Eriksson had previously experienced in both his two other cup triumphs, his side were going to wake up in the second leg.
Although Demetrio Albertini gave Milan another 1-0 lead, goals from Guerino Gottardi, Vladimir Jugovic and Alessandro Nesta helped Lazio to the title in Eriksson’s first season in charge of the Aquile.
But the 72-year-old’s greatest moment in Italian football ultimately came in 2000, when the man from a small town of 4,000 inhabitants called Torsby finished above Juventus in Serie A and masterminded Lazio to victory over Inter in the Coppa Italia Final with a 2-1 win in the first leg and a goalless draw in the second.
Goals from Pavel Nedved and Diego Simeone completed the domestic double for the Swede, even if he had seen his side turn around another tie as Clarence Seedorf fired Inter in front at the Olimpico.
Eriksson had surpassed his compatriot Liedholm at the top of the ranking for the foreign coach with the most Coppa Italia successes, making history with the Biancocelesti as he brought them only their second-ever Scudetto and twice added the trophy no-one knows better than him, the Coppa.
Foreign coaches winning the Coppa Italia twice or more:
Sven-Göran Eriksson (Sweden): 4
Lazio: 1997-98, 1999-00
Nils Liedholm (Sweden): 3
Roma: 1979-80, 1980-81, 1983-84
Vujadin Boskov (Serbia): 2
Sampdoria: 1987-88, 1989-90
Toni Cargnelli (Austria): 2
AS Ambrosia-Inter: 1938-39
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