San Canzian d'Isonzo has a population of 5,808 and barely registers on the map of Italy. When Fabio Capello was born there on June 18th, 1946, the village was little more than a settlement that existed between Venice and Trieste.
These were momentous times. The Republic of Italy was only 16 days old, Europe was flirting with bankruptcy, and the effects of World War II were reconfiguring the globe. In London, where the Clement Atlee government was ushering in a period of dramatic social change, Walter Winterbottom was appointed the first national director of coaching for the England football team.
In terms of background and personality, Capello and Winterbottom could hardly be more contrasting. All they seem to have in common is that they occupied the same role within the Football Association and were, in their own times, regarded as the men most likely to turn England into world champions.
In some respects, everything that was wrong about the Football Association from 1946 to 1962 could be summed up by Winterbottom. He was, like the organisation that employed him, cocooned in a timewarp; isolationist and fearful of external intervention. He was born in Oldham in 1913 but was less Lancastrian than he was English. Winterbottom was very English.
When England embarrassed themselves atthe 1950 World Cup, losing to the United States in Belo Horizonte, nobody heeded the warning. Not even the 6-3 defeat to Hungary at Wembley initiated the revolution that was required. The reasons for England's failures were many, not least that Winterbottom was less grounded in football than any of his players.
His career of choice was that of schoolteacher. He was always nothing more than a glorified physical-education lecturer with clipped tones. I called him on the day Bobby Moore died in 1993. "Hello, Winterbottom," he answered in a public-school voice. This was not how an England head coach was supposed to sound.
But how is an England head coach supposed to sound? And what is the typical background for such a man?
Capello might have been fashioned in the obscurity of San Canzian d'Isonzo but his 11 predecessors - all white males, all but one English, and all but four from the English provinces - were also conditioned in untypical surroundings.
Alf Ramsey, the most successful of all England head coaches, the winner of the 1966 World Cup, was so dismissive of his own working-class background that he took elocution lessons at a young age. By the time he became famous, his public-school voice belied his East End origins, but he was so uncommunicative that listening to him was often painful.
Don Revie was born amid the social strife of Middlesbrough in 1927 but made his name first as an intelligent player for Manchester City, then as the Machiavellian manager of Leeds United, and latterly as a commercially wise England head coach. He had known poverty in his youth but found, once he left England for the Middle East, that wealth never brought him the contentment he craved.
After the excesses and failures of the Revie era, the FA wanted a safe pair of hands and turned to Ron Greenwood. He was born in the Lancashire town of Worsthorne in 1921 but spent his impressionable days in London during the Depression of the Thirties. Mild-mannered with virtually no ego, he took England to the brink of the 1982 World Cup semi-finals but was too cautious.
Some have said that, had Brian Clough been the head coach, England would have won the World Cup. But Clough had the one thing the FA did not want at that time: a mind of his own with the mouth to match.
Bobby Robson, Greenwood's replacement, grew up between the Wars in Durham and developed a keen sense of family identity. A brilliant player with West Bromwich Albion, a superlative manager with Ipswich Town, he accepted the England job in 1982 and took the team to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup.
Robson was the first England head coach to deal with relentless media abuse but he was such a nice guy that he never held grudges. It was the same with Graham Taylor, whose England teams from 1990-93 underachieved, but it was he who suffered for it; first by the newspaper parodies, second with the loss of his job.
Taylor was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, in 1944 and spoke with an authentic regional accent. Brilliantly successful at club level, most notably with Aston Villa in 1990, he was the first England head coach of the superstar era. Now, England players were more famous than the manager.
Terry Venables, who, like Alf Ramsey, came from Dagenham, was as successful in business as he was in football and was the right man at the right time. He took England to the semi-finals of Euro 96 but left because the FA, always scared of risks, was not sure that elements of his business life were in keeping with the nature of his job as England head coach.
Glenn Hoddle, the only true Londoner of all the England head coaches, having been born in Hayes in 1957, took over after Euro 96 and seemed to have the class of Venables with the coaching skills of a European. Hoddle had been a genius of a player but he had unorthodox views about religion that made him a liability.
Kevin Keegan was also a liability, but for different reasons. By his own admission, he did not have the tactical nous to run a leading international team. Born in Armthorpe in 1951, he had been a superstar with Liverpool and SV Hamburg but, by 2000, when England failed at the European Championships, he seemed to lack international credibility.
Sven-Goran Eriksson had the international credibility but not the background. Born in Torsby, Värmland (population: 4,000) in 1948, he became England's first foreign coach. The xenophobic among us did not approve but Eriksson would have won over even the most racist of individuals had he turned any of his teams from 2001-06 into winners. He did not. The underachievement was like a disease and Eriksson's private life, which became public, did not help.
Eriksson gave six months notice of his intention to resign and his assistant, Steve McClaren, took over immediately after England's failures at the 2006 World Cup. Among McClaren's problems - and there were many - was that he was inextricably linked to the Eriksson era.
McClaren was as provincial as Taylor, as inflexible as Eriksson, as tactically inept as Keegan, and as unlucky as Hoddle. The combination meant that he stood little chance. McClaren, who was born in York in 1961 (just as Capello was beginning his playing career with Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor), left after the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, ushering in the beginning of the Capello era.
Capello is unlike his 11 predecessors. Mozart is his music of choice, travelling to obscure parts of the world (like Tibet and Cambodia) provides him with a release from football, and he has an art collection that could easily form an impressive gallery. But neither his interests nor his background are why the FA have turned to him. England need success and have found a man who knows nothing but success.