Moscow: Former England manager Fabio Capello vowed to turn Russia into one of the world’s top teams after signing a two-year contract as national coach on Thursday.
Italian Capello replaced Dutchman Dick Advocaat, whose tenure ended following Russia’s disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, where they failed to advance past the group stage.
The 66-year-old Italian, looking dapper in a grey suit with a dark blue tie, did not waste any time in promising to deliver the goods after being presented to the media in Moscow.
“I’m very proud to be the coach of the Russian national team. Russia have great potential. I will live and work in Moscow,” he said.
“I will maintain close ties with [the Russian Football Union], update them on all my plans on a weekly basis. I have many ideas how to make Russia a much better team,” he added.
“I hope to teach Russian players a winning mentality. We have to work towards the 2014 World Cup, it’s a new challenge for me.”
Acting RFU chief Nikita Simonyan looked a happy man.
“There’s not much one can say about Fabio Capello,” the 85-year-old Simonyan said after introducing Capello.
“Everyone knows his motto, which is to win, win and win.”
Capello, who had success coaching top clubs such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, AS Roma and Juventus, also promised to blood new players into an ageing team, something his predecessor failed to do in his two years at the helm.
“I plan to follow not only the [Russian] Premier League looking for players but the second and third division as well. I’m sure there are many talented players in such a big country as Russia,” said the Italian, whose first game in the new job will be a friendly against Ivory Coast on August 15.
Asked about Andrei Arshavin, Russia’s most-talented and influential player, Capello said: “I must first talk to Arshavin before making any decision about his future with the national team. The same can be said about other elder players.”
Capello, who quit as England manager in February after clashing with bosses over John Terry being stripped of the captaincy, said he was first contacted about the job by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.
“While I was in Rome I got a call from [Mutko],” said Capello, who stands to make up to €10 million (Dh45.07 million) a year, according to reports in Russian media.
The Italian was only a second choice for former RFU chief Mutko, who said last week he would “personally prefer” Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
Not everyone in Russia has been satisfied with Capello’s appointment, however.
“Who’ll pay for all of this?” former Soviet international Yevgeny Lovchev, now a leading football columnist for daily Soviet Sport, asked when told that Capello plans to bring five Italian assistants to help him get a better feel of Russian football.
“Honestly speaking, this whole affair has left more questions than answers. Why are we kept in the dark?”
It will probably be left to a new RFU boss, to be elected in September, to find sponsors to pay for Capello’s contract.