Former Italy coach Vicini dies at 84

Vicini managed the Italian national side from 1986 to 1991, leading the Azzurri to the semifinals of the 1988 European Championships and also the 1990 World Cup.

Former Italian national soccer team coach Azeglio Vicini attends an Italian Soccer Awards ceremony, in Milan in this January 24, 2011, photo. Vicini, who coached Italy to a third-place finish as host of the 1990 World Cup, has died at the age of 84.

Former Italy coach Azeglio Vicini, in charge of the team at the 1990 World Cup, has died at the age of 84, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Wednesday.

Vicini coached Italy from 1986 to 1991 and led it to the semifinals at the 1988 European Championship and the World Cup which it hosted two years later.

Italy's bid to win the title on home soil ended when it was beaten on penalties by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina following a 1-1 draw in a dramatic semifinal. The Azzurri went on to beat England 2-1 in the third-place match.

"It was a national team which played with heart, passion and entertained the Italians," said the FIGC.

Fondly remembered as "the coach of the magical nights" for his role in Italia '90, Vicini passed away at his home in the northern city of Brescia, Italian press reported.

"He was a man who was hugely important for my footballing life," said Salvatore "Toto" Schillaci, who won the Golden Shoe award at the 1990 World Cup with a tournament-high six goals.

"He made me known all around the world. He believed in me and if I am what I am, 80 percent of the merit belongs to coach Vicini," Schillaci added. "I hope the football world remembers him like he deserves to be remembered. He was a coach from another era, a real professional, and the advice he gave me was fatherly."

Vicini stepped down in 1991 as Italy surprisingly failed to qualify for Euro 1992 after finishing below the Soviet Union in their group. He was succeeded by Arrigo Sacchi.

Vicini coached Italian national teams at youth level for 11 years before taking charge of the senior side from World Cup-winning coach Enzo Bearzot in 1986 and only coached three club sides — Brescia, Cesena and Udinese before retiring in 1994.

His playing career took him to Vicenza, Sampdoria and, finally, Brescia.

The FIGC said that a minute's silence would be held before Wednesday's Coppa Italia match between AC Milan and Lazio and the weekend's Serie A games.

Vicini is survived by his wife and three children.

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