Giovanni Trapattoni with restaurateur Emiliano. photo: Gavin Downey

Giovanni Trapattoni with restaurateur Emiliano. photo: Gavin Downey

The Waterford public had a great celebrity in their midst last Wednesday with the visit of Giovanni Trapattoni.

He dined at one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Emilianos, who put on a fantastic menu and knowing that the new Irish football manager is a native of Milan, they presented a special to reflect the region’s cuisine.

Signor Trapattoni, who had a busy scheduled, enquired as to how many Italian restaurants there were in Waterford and we told him there are three in the city centre, excluding pizza places. Given his satisfaction, he may well come down again and dine here.

He spoke to the Munster Express in a light hearted way, recalling how he enjoyed Euro 2008, describing it as one off the more entertaining international soccer championships.

He particularly enjoyed the Holland-France match and was also impressed with Russia and Turkey. They are more comparable to the Irish team, where teamwork and physical strength are important. Ireland has done well in the past when such characteristics are part of the team.

Gareth Cronin, the young Waterford United boss, also spoke with the famous Italian about the challenges of managing a team.

The maestro of Italian football management spoke fondly of his time with Juventus, where they won the Champions League. He then went onto Bayern Munich, where he won the Bundesliga and brought them to the Champions League semi-final.

More recently he brought the Austrian championship to Salzburg, while prior to that he was at Milan and had a spell managing Italy from 2000 to ’04.

The Trapattoni lunch was attended by many representatives of Waterford United, plus club president Bertie Rogers, where they launched a strategy plan for local business to support the club.

Giovanni was introduced by FAI chief executive, Waterford man John Delaney, who described his long connection with the Blues, including that of his father Joe, who was chairman of Waterford FC when they last won the FAI Cup in 1980.

Bertie Rogers mentioned that soccer was in Waterford over 75 years and it was important that this continues into the future. He spoke of the need for people to support local teams. Giovanni expressed his support for local soccer clubs as the foundations of football. He mentioned that clubs were really important for the people of a town or city.

He also emphasised the sense of a community that a club brings to a place. Supporting soccer clubs like Waterford is backing one’s community and he was delighted to launch the strategic plan and to be able to help out a club with a tradition like Waterford.

The proprietors of Emilianos were delighted to host the event and made it a real Italian-Irish occasion with flags and bunting, as well as excellent food.

They wished to thank the following for their support for the fundraising event launch: Billy Burke Fish Merchants, Hunt Meats in Waterford, Vini de Baiocco, David Dennison Fine Wines, KC Norton, Dublin and Musgraves Cash and Carry, Waterford.