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Udinese hire Ballon d'Or, World Cup winner as new manager

Udinese hire Ballon d'Or, World Cup winner as new manager
© Reuters
Udinese announce the appointment of former World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner Fabio Cannavaro as their new head coach.

Serie A outfit Udinese have welcomed a former Ballon d'Or holder and World Cup-winning captain as their new head coach.

Le Zebrette parted ways with former boss Gabriele Cioffi in the wake of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Hellas Verona, which made it four games without a win in the top flight.

Udinese's latest defeat - their 12th of the campaign - leaves them hovering dangerously above the relegation zone in 17th place, only above Frosinone on goal difference with just six games left to play this season.

The Zebrette board confirmed Cioffi's departure on Monday morning, alongside that of his coaching team, and the club have hired 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro as his successor.

The 50-year-old returns to the dugout after 14 months out of the game, having most recently taken charge of Benevento for just 17 games during the 2022-23 season, leaving in February of last year.

Cannavaro won just three games in charge of the Serie B side, prior to which he managed in China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and he has joined Udinese on a short-term contract until the end of the season.

Former player Fabio Cannavaro during the awards, November 29, 2021© Reuters

"Cannavaro is a young and prepared coach"

"Udinese Calcio is pleased to welcome the world champion and 2006 Golden Ball winner who will lead the team until the end of the football season. He signed a contract until 30 June 2024," Le Zebrette said in a statement.

"There is no need to recall the exploits on the field of one of the greatest players in the history of Italian football, Cannavaro is a young and prepared coach of international stature who has already had the opportunity to test his abilities also abroad.

"The club has identified in his experience on the field and technique and in his undisputed leadership the suitable figure to lead the team to the goal of salvation."

As well as the appointment of the former Italy centre-back, Udinese have hired his brother Paolo Cannavaro as assistant manager, while Francesco Troise - once of Watford - joins as a technical coach.

In addition to captaining Italy to 2006 World Cup glory during his playing heyday, the new Udinese boss won seven major honours at club level, representing Real Madrid, Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and Parma.

Fabio Cannavaro's first game in charge of Le Zebrette comes away to Champions League-chasing Bologna on Sunday.

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