Sun 31 October 2021 | 17:30

Top Facts about Arrigo Sacchi, the innovative Italian Manager

Arrigo Sacchi is one of the most successful managers of Italy who has won numerous trophies with A.C. Milan and reached the final of 1994 FIFA World Cup with Italy national team.So, in this article, we are going to take a look at top facts about Arrigo Sacchi.

Arrigo Sacchi was born on 1 April 1946. He is an Italian former professional football manager. He was twice the coach of A.C. Milan (1987–1991, 1996–1997), with a lot of achievements.

Arrigo Sacchi lifted the Serie A title in his 1987–88 debut season and then dominated European football by winning successive European Cups in 1989 and 1990. From 1991 to 1996, Arrigo Sacchi was manager of the Italy national team and led them to the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final match, where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shoot-out.

Arrigo Sacchi is considered one of the best coaches of all-time and his Milan team (1987–1991) is commonly regarded to be one of the greatest club sides to ever play football, and by some to be the best of all-time.

In 2019, the French magazine France Football placed him in third place in the ranking of the 50 best coaches of all eras; previously, in 2007, the English magazine The Times had placed him in eleventh place in its ranking of coaches, first among the Italians. In 2011 he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Top Facts about Arrigo Sacchi, the innovative Italian Manager

One of the

top facts about Arrigo Sacchi

is that he served as the coach of

A.C. Milan

from 1987 to 1991. He returned for a brief spell in the 1996-1997 season, but could not repeat his glorious years of his first spell.

Arrigo Sacchi won a Scudetto , an Italian Super Cup , two Champions' Cups , two UEFA Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups, being a member of the so-called team of the Immortals .

It is worth mentioning that from 1991 to 1996 he coached the Italian national team, leading it to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he reached the final match, and to the 1996 European Championship.

Now, let’s take a look at the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi, whose innovative tactics influenced the beautiful game in the world.

Arrigo Sacchi at a glance

  • Date of Birth:

    1 April, 1946

  • Place of Birth:

    Fusignano, Italy

  • Age:


  • Citizenship:


  • Average term as coach:

    1.76 Years

Arrigo Sacchi early career

One of the

top facts about Arrigo Sacchi

is that he was never a professional football player. For many years he worked as a shoe salesman. This led to his prominent quote directed at those critics who questioned his qualifications: "I never realised that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first." Another famous Arrigo Sacchi quote is that "football is the most important of the least important things in life."

Arrigo Sacchi had grown up watching the games of attacking teams, such as Budapest Honvéd, 

Real Madrid

, Brazil and the Netherlands. He started his career managing his local team, Baracca Lugo, for the reason that he was not talented enough to play for the club.

Regarding the challenge he had to face, Arrigo Sacchi said, "I was twenty-six, my goalkeeper was thirty-nine and my centre-forward was thirty-two. I had to win them over." Later he coached at Bellaria before he joined Cesena, which played in the Italian Serie B, as a youth team manager. Next, Arrigo Sacchi took over at Rimini who were playing in the Serie C1, and nearly led them to a trophy.

Arrigo Sacchi started to advance when he joined 


 as a youth coach. His successes with the youth team earned interest from another team in Italy 


, who were then playing in Serie C1.

Arrigo Sacchi led Parma to promotion in his debut season, and in the next season took them to within 3 points of promotion to Serie A. What was more important to his spell at Parma, nevertheless, was the team's performance in the Coppa Italia. In fact in the tournament they beat A.C. Milan 1–0 in the group stages, and beat them once more 1–0 on aggregate in the first knockout round. It was enough to attract interest from A.C. Milan team owner Silvio Berlusconi, who quickly selected Arrigo Sacchi as manager of A.C. Milan.

Arrigo Sacchi at A.C. Milan

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi is that At Milan, he again challenged problems of trustworthiness. The media claimed that such an inadequate player could never go on to be a successful manager, and that even Silvio Berlusconi – who had played football at amateur level – was possibly a better football player.

Arrigo Sacchi, however, coined an amusing term in response: "I never realised that in order to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first." Later, Arrigo Sacchi became an instant success at the San Siro, leading A.C. Milan to its first Serie A title in nine years in his first season and then won the league title with a Supercoppa Italiana in 1988.

Arrigo Sacchi's achievement at A.C. Milan gained him two consecutive European Cups. The success he gained was mainly attributed to the Dutch trio he had employed; namely Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Though, other great football players such as Roberto Donadoni, as well as the defensive back four of Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti and Paolo Maldini, were also key players to his achievement.

The first European Cup final in 1989 was played against Steaua București, who were beaten 4–0. Gullit and Van Basten netted two goals each and A.C. Milan won the European Cup for the first time in over 20 years.

During the tournamrnt, A.C. Milan had beaten Real Madrid 6–1 on aggregate in the semi-final match, a result which almost characterized the passing of the mantle for best European team.

The quarter-final match against 

Werder Bremen

 was very difficult. A.C. Milan only went through 1–0 on aggregate thanks to a Van Basten penalty kick. The second round was full of controversies. Roberto Donadoni’s life was saved only through the quick-thinking of the Red Star Belgrade physiotherapist, who broke his jaw to make a passage for oxygen to reach his lungs after he had suffered a terrible foul and lay unconscious.

The first leg ended in a 1–1 draw and the second leg was suspended in 64th minute and rescheduled to be replayed the next day due to the dense fog. A.C. Milan finally progressed after a penalty shoot-out.

While A.C. Milan was not as good as they had been in the previous season, they were successful again in 1989/90 season. After wins against HJK Helsinki, Real Madrid and KV Mechelen, A.C. Milan defeated German side Bayern Munich in the semi-final match, thanks to an away goal. The Dutch trio worked again in the final match, as Frank Rijkaard netted the only goal of the match through a Van Basten assist to defeat Sven-Göran Eriksson's Benfica.

By winning the final match, A.C. Milan became the team which retained the title for the first time since 1980, and the last club to do so until Real Madrid would succeed to reach this achievement 27 years later.

Arrigo Sacchi also win consecutive European Super Cups and Intercontinental Cups in 1989 and 1990, and would lead A.C. Milan to the final match of the 1989–90 Coppa Italia, where they were defeated by 



In 1990/91 season they were eliminated by eventual runners-up Marseille in the quarter-final, and finished at the second place in Serie A behind Sampdoria, while they were defeated in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia by eventual champions A.S. Roma. This was Arrigo Sacchi's last season with i Rossoneri.

Arrigo Sacchi at Italy national team

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi is that in November 1991, he was appointed coach of the 

Italy national team

, replacing Azeglio Vicini. Arrigo Sacchi founded his Italian choice mainly on A.C. Milan players, particularly in the defensive line which included Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi; the attacking line was led by talismanic 1993 Ballon d'or winner Roberto Baggio of Juventus.

Prominent exclusions from Arrigo Sacchi's Azzurri team, though, included Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini, Giuseppe Bergomi and Walter Zenga.

Arrigo Sacchi successfully led Italy through the qualification stage to reach the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In spite of the fact that they were not among the favourites and losing their first game 1–0 to the Republic of Ireland, Italy reached the final which was their first since 1982.

In the final match, Arrigo Sacchi’s Italy were defeated by Brazil in a penalty shoot-out, the first ever shootout in a World Cup final.

Under Sacchi, Italy qualified for UEFA Euro 1996, but were eliminated from a group which included the eventual finalists, Germany and the Czech Republic.  

Arrigo Sacchi at other teams

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi is that After he left his job with the Italy national team, Sacchi returned to A.C. Milan to replace Óscar Tabárez in December 1996. But, the second spell was a complete failure with the team finishing 11th in the league and suffering its worst ever Serie A defeat, losing 6-1 at home to final champions Juventus.

Arrigo Sacchi spent short-term spells in the Spanish La Liga, taking charge of Atlético Madrid in 1998 after his second spell with A.C. Milan, where he left his post in March of that season, with them suffering in the bottom half of the table. Sacchi also temporarily returned to Parma in 2001, replacing Alberto Malesani, but shortly resigned after unacceptable results, and was replaced by Renzo Ulivieri.

Arrigo Sacchi as a director

Later, Arrigo Sacchi returned to Madrid, this time at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium as director of football at Real Madrid for the 2004–05 season.

In August 2011, following Italy’s poor showing at South Africa 2010, Sacchi was appointed to overhaul Italy’s International youth teams. Based at Coverciano, the National Italian Football Centre in Florence, Sacchi inherited a development system which locked young players into specific positions and admitted that defensive mastery was prioritised above all else.

More worryingly he found a fractured player pathway: “each national group had a different style and system”. Resultantly, the 68 year-old made significant changes to the coaching staff, retaining only one member of the group he inherited, and worked to develop a more unified approach with greater consistency in message and overall vision: “when you coach a national team you are not an U16s coach, you are a coach of Italy”.

Sacchi changed the approach of all of Italy’s age group teams to make sure there was a unified way of developing and playing the game within the national setup.

Arrigo Sacchi innovations and influence

Arrigo Sacchi was Nicknamed "The Prophet of Fusignano". He favoured a fluid, yet very organised attacking 4–4–2 formation, rejecting the traditional libero position in an era where Italian football was mainly focussed on strong defensive play, and Helenio Herrera's Catenaccio tactics had still a durable influence. 

Defensively, Arrigo Sacchi's teams take on a zonal marking system, which had already been introduced by his predecessor Nils Liedholm, and were known for their defensive power, conceding few goals; indeed, the defensive group of four including Maldini, Baresi, Costacurta, and Tassotti, which Arrigo Sacchi deployed both at A.C. Milan and with the Italy national team, is considered as one of the best defences of all-time.

Arrigo Sacchi trusted in the Dutch idea of Total Football, claiming that young players should be trained in all aspects of football rather than into specialist positions, helping the team both with and without the ball. 

Arrigo Sacchi was also a strong advocate of team ethic and treating all players as equals, once saying, "The only way you can build a side is by getting players who speak the same language and can play a team game. You cannot achieve anything on your own, and if you do, it does not last long. I often quote what Michelangelo said: 'The spirit guides the hand.'" 

Arrigo Sacchi introduced "shadow play" to perfect his team's unity, in which his players would simulate a game in training without really playing football. As a manager, Arrigo Sacchi also attracted controversy, as he was well-known for implementing a firm and difficult training rule upon his players, and his teams were often known for their work principle and discipline.

Sacchi is also remembered for his frankness, wilfulness and his thorough, obsessive attention to detail when preparing tactical solutions and finalizing plays, which his players were then expected to remember and implement consistently during games.

Arrigo Sacchi is also recognized as an innovator, promoting high pressing from his teams, the offside trap, and a great defensive line with no more than 25 metres between defence and attack. This style of pressing has been emulated effectively by José Mourinho in Porto, Pep Guardiola in Barcelona, Jürgen Klopp in Borussia Dortmund and Jupp Heynckes in Bayern Munich. 

Also, the next manager of A.C. Milan, Fabio Capello, retained Arrigo Sacchi's tactics and went on to lift four Scudetti in five seasons and the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League. Spanish manager Rafael Benítez – who won the UEFA Cup and La Liga with Valencia, the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup with Liverpool, the FIFA Club World Cup with Internazionale and the UEFA Europa League with Chelsea – says that Arrigo Sacchi is his role model and "the coach who has revolutionised football in the past 50 years".

Arrigo Sacchi designed practices to exam players. The main idea was to numerically disadvantage one team, repeating the exercise to give the players the chance to solve the problem of playing outnumbered.

One of the key elements Arrigo Sacchi cites for the success of his A.C. Milan team was the “unbelievable intelligence” of midfielder, Carlo Ancellotti. Despite his lack of pace, Sacchi said that the current Real Madrid manager was the key to everything the team did.

Carlo Ancelotti wrote about Sacchi’s coaching methodology in his book and said: “as many times as possible we would work in game-realistic situations”.

There was common friendliness between the pair, with Carlo Ancelotti saying he owes much of his football learning to the time he played under Sacchi, stating he used many of the lessons and methods when preparing the Madrid giants.

Arrigo Sacchi programme in Italy

One of the

top facts about Arrigo Sacchi

is that he has some programs to promote the Italian football during these days.


Scouting programme:

 Each weekend between 30-40 scouts work on behalf of the federation recognizing, observing and choosing talent for the development teams. The identification of players is very much based around the kind of football player that will fit the Italian total football style.


Contrasting some of the player-release problems in England there are very few problems with the release of Italian players to play for their country. Each squad meets for a two or three-day preparation camp every month.


Developing Italian manager:

 Twice a year Italian club managers are invited to Coverciano for a presentation where the approaches and attitude of the Italian federation are shared. Moreover, managers from other national federations are welcomed to view training and to know more about the programme on two days each season.


Issues and challenges:

 When Arrigo Sacchi first arrived at Coverciano he found much proof of the old Italian football stereotype. He said, “Italian clubs can play 90 minutes without one mistake in defence”.


Arrigo Sacchi also believes that the diverse styles implemented by teams in the Serie A poses a problem for the national arrangement with the national team having to unite the players in a different style in a very short time.

There is a feeling that several Serie A teams still play with a very defensive Italian style, which in many aspects is against the more European style the new-Italy team wish to play.

Arrigo Sacchi Awards

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi isthat in 2005, the University of Urbino gave him an honorary degree in Sports Science and Techniques. 

In September 2007, the Municipality of Fusignano held an exhibition on Arrigo Sacchi at the San Rocco Civic Museum to celebrate his well-known fellow citizen through an amazing exhibition of unpublished memories, titles, videos of the most important games, photos of the early stages in the dusty fields of Fusignano and Bassa Romagna and snapshots of the great achievements of the teams he managed or directed.

Arrigo Sacchi books

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi is that he has authored and co-authored two books. These books are as follow:

1- Arrigo Sacchi, Total football. My life told to Guido Conti, Milan, Mondadori, 2015.

2- Arrigo Sacchi, Luigi Garlando, The cup of the immortals. Milan 1989: the legend of the strongest team of all time told by those who invented it, Milan, Baldini & Castoldi, 2019.

Arrigo Sacchi Personal Life

Arrigo Sacchi is one of those people who does not like to talk about his personal life in public. 

One of the top facts about Arrigo Sacchi is that in 1972, he married Giovanna Sacchi and they have two daughters. The names of Arrigo Sacchi's daughters are Simona and Federica. 

In 2008, the court of Bologna found that Arrigo Sacchi has a third daughter, who was born covertly in 2003. There is no record of his two legitimate daughters’ date of birth and they, like Arrigo, kept their life and social media accounts private.

Arrigo Sacchi zodiac sign

As mentioned before, Arrigo Sacchi was born on 1 April 1, 1946 in Italy. One of the top fact about Arrigo Sacchi is that according to Astrologers, his zodiac sign is Aries.

Arrigo Sacchi honours


  • Serie C1 in 1985–86

A.C. Milan

  • Serie A in 1987–88

  • Supercoppa Italiana in 1988

  • European Cup in 1988–89, 1989–90

  • European Super Cup in 1989, 1990

  • Intercontinental Cup in 1989, 1990

  • Coppa Italia Runners-up in 1989–90

Italy National Team

  • FIFA World Cup Runners-up in 1994


  • Seminatore d'Oro in 1988, 1989

  • World Soccer Awards Manager of the Year in 1989

  • 3rd place (France Football) in 2019

  • 6th place (World Soccer) in 2013

  • 6th place (ESPN): 2013

  • European Coach of the Year—Sepp Herberger Award in 1989

  • European Coach of the Season in 1989–90

  • Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011

Greatest Manager of All Time – one of 5 managers ranked top 10 by France Football, World Soccer and ESPN



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