Enzo Bearzot (AP Photo)
MILAN (AP) — Enzo Bearzot, who coached Italy to its first World Cup triumph in 44 years in 1982, died in Milan on Tuesday aged 83, Italy media reported.
Bearzot was seriously ill for several years, ANSA said.
Bearzot became Italy coach in 1975 and led the team at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups.
At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Italy beat West Germany 3-1 in the final, after defeating Argentina and Brazil in the second round and Poland in the semifinals. It was Italy's third World Cup title following success in 1934 and '38. Italy won a fourth in 2006.
Paolo Rossi returned from a two-year ban for his part in a match-fixing scandal to finish the 1982 tournament as leading goalscorer with six.
"Enzo Bearzot was one of Italy's greatest ever Italians," Rossi told ANSA. "He was like a father to me and without him I would never have achieved what I did."
Inter Milan defender Giuseppe Bergomi was only 18 at the 1982 World Cup, but was a key part of Italy's defense, alongside Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile and Antonio Cabrini.
"He was the type of coach that gave you massive confidence in yourself," Bergomi told Sky Sport Italia. "He helped me develop as a player and knew how to get the best out of his team."
Bearzot was born in Aiello in Italy's northeast on Sept. 27, 1927 and played in midfield for Inter Milan, Catania and Torino and was capped once for Italy.
Before taking the Italy job, he was coach of Italy Under-23s from 1969 until 1975.
Under Bearzot, Italy finished fourth at the 1978 World Cup and 1980 European Championship.
After failing to qualify for the 1984 Europeans, Bearzot was criticized for placing too much faith in the stars of the 1982 victory for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
With players such as Marco Tardelli, Bruno Conti and Scirea past their best, the defending champion fell to France in the round of 16.
Bearzot resigned following the defeat having coached Italy for 104 matches.
He returned to the Italian football association in 2002 as president of its technical sector, a post he held until 2005.
He was survived by his wife Luisa, son Glauco and daughter Cinzia.
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