FA chairman Brian Barwick squinted into the glare of a thousand camera flashes with the facial expression of a man trying to work out the square root of 573.
“We wanted a winner with a capital W,” he barked, as photographers threw themselves at the man beside him like supplicants at the feet of the messiah.
“That was the template. This is the man. Fabio Capello.”
England’s new coach blinked at the bombast and looked out at the media pile-on in front of him. “I am very proud and hon-or-ried,” he said.
Although Fabio’s English is not yet up to standard he was able to talk with the England players as, for a special surprise, they had all been taught welcoming phrases by the language teacher from the local Secondary School.
Gary Neville led Fabio to the players who were lined up to meet him.
“Qui sono gli asini che giocano il calico,” said Neville.
Fabio nodded his head wisely.
“Siete un babbuino grande,” smiled Paul Robinson pressing his hand.
“Siete un idiot!” replied Fabio.
“La penna della mia zia è nel giardino,” stated Frank Lampard, next in line.
“Non conosco la vostra zia!” growled Fabio, clearly becoming agitated.
“What’s going on?” hissed Barwick to the journalist from ‘Gazzetta Dello Sport’.
“Neville introduced the team as ‘donkeys that play soccer’, Robinson called him a big baboon and Lampard told him that his aunt’s pen is in the garden,” the journalist whispered back, with delight.
Barwicks face whitened further as he spotted who was next in the welcoming line up.
“‘Allo Wayne,” said Fabio, shaking Rooney’s hand.
“Gradirei prego una pinta di Guiness, ” grinned Rooney, “e un grande kebab.”
“Wassie say, wassie say?” Barwick begged the journalist.
“He asked for a pint of Guiness and a large kebab.”
“Oh my God, surely someone hasn’t tricked him into saying that!”
“No, his Italian’s not that bad; it’s just that he always lets the new managers know what he expects for half time refreshments.”
“Siete il W più grande,” said Fabio to Barwick.
“He said you’re the biggest W,” whispered the journalist.
“I don’t need a translator to tell me that,” muttered Barwick on his way to the door.