It started in Baden-Baden and ended up in tears. England’s 2010 World Cup odyssey had its roots in the off-the-field circus in a German spa town during the 2006 tournament. Reacting to public and media disdain for the antics of superstar players and their shopaholic partners, the Football Association began looking for a disciplinarian ‘winner’ to banish the aura of under-achievement left by the laissez-faire regimes of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren.
The search led to Fabio Capello. With a no-nonsense style, hailed as a throwback to a time before cash and the cult of celebrity transformed the national game, the Italian guided England through a near-perfect World Cup qualifying campaign. The FA, it seemed, had found their man of destiny, who could exploit the talent and curb the excesses of the “rich young boys”, as Capello termed them, that wore the Three Lions.
Then, with the finals looming, cracks appeared in this brave new world. Capello stripped John Terry of the captaincy for his alleged affair with a teammate’s ex-partner. Replacement captain Rio Ferdinand withdrew, injured. And as England started falteringly in South Africa, strained relations between “Don Fabio” and certain players compounded the sense of a squad ill at ease in their isolated, Wag-free retreat.
Award-winning sportswriter Oliver Holt was an outsider on the inside throughout England ‘s quest for global supremacy, witnessing at close proximity the roller-coaster of recrimination and redemption. End of the Rainbow, brimming with authoritative analysis, is the definitive story of the drama and intrigue behind Capello’s war.