Milan (AFP) – Roberto Mancini said Monday he would be proud to coach Italy but insisted he had not yet had any contact with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
Zenit Saint Petersburg coach Mancini is seen as the favourite to take over the four-time world champions after Carlo Ancelotti reportedly turned down the job offer.
“Am I in pole position to become coach? From St Petersburg it’s difficult to be aware of everything,” Mancini told Italian radio on Monday.
“I personally have never spoken with the federation, but coaching the national team would be prestigious and a source of pride for me because Italy are one of the most important teams in the world.
“If one day I got the chance to sit on the national team’s bench it would be something beautiful, but until now there hasn’t been anything.”
Italy have been without a permanent coach since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after failing to qualify the Azzurri for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after losing to Sweden in a two-legged playoff in November.
Mancini travelled to Rome this week and according to reports in Russia the 53-year-old has told Zenit Saint Petersburg players he will be leaving at the end of the season.
“It won’t be the same World Cup (without Italy),” said Mancini, who believes Italian football needs to be rebuilt from grassroots level to return to the glory days.
“I feel that at this time the national team doesn’t have the champions it always had but it has good players.
“You have to be patient. The youth sections of Italian teams have some players who can do well in the national team in the future.”
Mancini led Manchester City to their first English title in 44 years in 2012, and won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and Italian Cups with Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio.
The former Lazio and Sampdoria forward never became a regular with Italy during his 10-year international career, during which he won 36 caps and scored four goals.
He reached the semi-finals of Euro 1988, and was in the squad that finished third in the 1990 World Cup on home soil.
Italy’s under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio has been filling the position on an interim basis with the FIGC saying Ventura’s successor will be named on May 20.
Among the other names being touted are Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and former Leicester coach Claudio Ranieri, now in charge of French club Nantes.