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Marcello Lippi: the success of an Italian in China

We speak today of a successful professional known and loved by all Italians: Marcello Lippi. After a career as a player before and coach after, sighting success with Juventus winning the Champions League, 5 Serie A titles and the Intercontinental Cup, as well as the World Cup in 2006 with the national team, he decided to pursue a career in China’s Guangzhou Evergrande.


“I only know three words of Chinese – says Lippi – waiter, thank you, and ashtray. So when I went to a restaurant and said all three in sequence, the waiter thought I knew Chinese and began to speak, convinced that I understood everything. “
Born in Viareggio, he decides to change 64 years of life and continue his work in China, where football is not yet as developed as in Italy and where the language and culture deserves some study and investigation. “Several English clubs asked me to join, the last one was Tottenham and I always said no because of the language, and then I ended up in China …” Marcello Lippi remembers.

Marcello had no particular problems of acclimatization, starting immediately his work in order to build a system that in the football world is still lacking in China, starting to select players and then arrive to a result. The approach to the language remains difficult, but Lippi found how to solve the problem: “We have four interpreters. One is always with me from morning until midnight. Then I have a driver, otherwise I should get my Chinese license. I could learn Chinese, but I need to communicate clearly with my players such as, for example, a Korean. When I talk to him, my interpreter must translate to his Chinese-Korean interpreter, who in turn translates to the player! When the player speaks we do the same thing in reverse. May be it’s not a perfect translation, but the important thing is the meaning. ”

Strength, enthusiasm, skill and work ethic are not lacking in Marcello Lippi, recognized as a true star by the Chinese people: “I stop for photos, they recognize me, greet me in the street – says Lippi – the Chinese realized early that I didn’t go there just for money. They perceived and appreciated my enthusiasm. Also the Minister of Sport recently told me he same thing.

When I arrived I was asked “Can one win the Champions’ League in five years?”. We did it after a year and a half!

Posted in A world of Cultures, Featured, Italian top manager, Working in a global context: differences in daily life