Fabio Capello says fear led to England’s Euro 2008 failure• ‘I was surprised because the players were really good’
• ‘I don’t like divers. The spirit of sport is to win correctly’
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guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 October 2009 13.30 BST Article history
England players were lacking confidence when he arrived, according to the national side’s manager Fabio Capello. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Fabio Capello believes fear was the reason for England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008, and said he was surprised at the quality in the team when he took over as the national side’s manager last year.

Speaking at the Global Sport Summit in London, Capello said: “I remember the first training session and I was surprised because the players were really good. And I thought ‘What has happened here, they are good players so why are they not playing in the European Championships?’.”

Capello admitted he arrived in England with low expectations after the national side had failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren, but said it did not take long to identify the most pressing issue facing the squad.

“I understood everything when they played Switzerland in the first match, the same players who played well in training played with fear, with no confidence, and I said this is a big problem of the mind,” he said. “Step by step, game after game, we have improved a lot.”

The England manager spelled out his principles of management, and cited the inspiration he has taken from other sports to help him in carrying out his role.

“I don’t understand why anyone would not respect the coaches or other people you work with,” he said. “I cannot understand why 20 players have to wait for two players that arrive too late or why they don’t respect the rules.”

When Capello was sporting director of Milan, he had overall control of the club’s rugby union, baseball, volleyball and ice hockey sides. He even signed Australia’s legendary rugby player David Campese for Milan and said he learned from each of them.

“It’s really, really important to know the psychology of different players in different sports, it was important for me to improve my psychology. Rugby and ice hockey is about fighting, volleyball is a system of movement on the pitch and in baseball you have to stay concentrated for a long time to catch one ball.”

Capello also spelled out his dislike of diving but admitted he would not “kill” one of his players if he dived to win a match.

He said: “I don’t like the divers, never. The spirit of sport is to win correctly. Sometimes the decision of the referees is not good but I don’t like divers.”

Asked what his reaction would be if one of his players dived to win a match, he replied: “I cannot kill him but I don’t like this, I don’t like diving.”

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