Il Vecchio Maestro (the old master), Vittorio Pozzo was responsible for putting Italian Football on the map with successive World Cup victories in 1934 and 1938 as well as the 1930 and 1935 Central European International Cup, not to mention the Bronze and Gold Medals won at the 1928 and 1936 Olympics. Pozzo was a man who learned from the past but did not imitate it, he instead added his own brand of style and discipline, infusing it with what he had learned from is experience to create a Golden era in Italian football.
In many ways Italian football today is still strongly linked to the ideals that Pozzo put in place all those years ago, its progression has incorporated ideals that were born out of the successive World Cup wins in the 1930’s. It is well known that Pozzo was an authoritarian and in turn a visionary, he got involved with his players private lives censoring their mail so that personal issues did not effect their football, banned smoking and picked players who had good character in place of maybe more difficult individuals to create a better team ethic. He can also be credited for his good man management as through out the 1930’s he managed to keep the National team outside of the influence of Mussolini. He was pragmatic and had an infectious determination to win at any cost, an element of Italian football that nowadays manifests itself in the tactical foul or the defensive performances that have sacrificed good football for victory.
Pozzo was tactically always looking for advancement and a new way to play, not satisfied with falling into the Danubian school of tactics he gave birth to the Metodo, a derivation from the tactics being played around Europe at the time. Breaking away from the 2–3–5 formation which relied much on short passing, he recognised the importance of half backs changing the formation to a 2–3–2–3 and in doing so making the team much more defensive. The old master had spent much of his early years in England – the then epicentre of football and formulated many of his ideas from here, both tactically and in man management. He was ground breaking in the way he used foreign players with Italian blood in his teams, the oriundi as they were known were frowned upon at first, however, when players such as Raimondo Orsi and Luisito Monti master-minded the victory over Austria’s Wunderteam, controlled by the great Hugo Meisl, nothing else was said and by the time they lifted the World Cup the afore mentioned players were heroes. This trait continues today with Mauro Camoranesi being the most recent example.
Vittorio Pozzo therefore should not just be credited with being a successful manager in the early years of Italian football, nor should he simply be the hero that has brought Italy half of its World Cup trophy haul. Pozzo should also be remembered for this pragmatism, man management, need to win at all costs attitude, tactical development and not having the fear to fuse the old with the new. In short Pozzo may have not created Italian football but it is the lessons of 1934 and 1938 that have helped shape the game of Calcio as it exists today.