Dippy about Lippy

They say that patience is a virtue and today I was finally rewarded for my 18 month long pursuit of Marcello Lippi with an exclusive interview for My Guangdong and That’s PRD magazine.

Lippi took the reins at Guangzhou Evergrande in May 2012 and from that day I have chased him. On a number of occasions I thought I had him only to have those hopes dashed. But today fears of another near miss were banished and I got to speak to the World Cup winning manager who is on the brink of making Guangzhou Evergrande the champions of Asia.

I actually got news of the time and place for the interview in the middle of class yesterday when I had for once left my phone on in the hope of good news. I had been promised either Wednesday or Thursday and having heard nothing by 2pm Weds I was getting anxious.

So when the message came through I had a few moments of wild excitement in front of a bemused class. But I have several football fans in the class and it is safe to say they were impressed and almost as excited as I was.

Matt Horn

The timing could have been better as the midday interview followed a night at Oktoberfest, my first without my very good German friend Thomas. These nights can get messy as once the ticket is bought the beer flows for free. Some of you may remember that my previous big interview with Evander Holyfield also followed a BIG night out and Alison was quick to
remind me not to repeat it.

So with the band and the beer in full flow we exited the tent about 10pm which not only helped me with the interview but
also my 8.30 class.

From there I went with friend and colleague Duncan to meet Michelle from the radio station and via metro and taxi we got to the meeting place, the Hengda Hotel owned by Evergrande home to Lippi and his sizeable entourage. The hotel and its grounds are incredible. Serious wealth is on show there.

As ever for such events I was ludicrously early, with about an hour to spare but that saved any anxiety about being late.

We then met Matteo, the young man who is his translator and were taken to the palatial room where the interview was to take place. We set up the recording equipment and the chairs and waited for Lippi to walk in.
In years of watching him I have never noticed a hair out of place and he walked in looking coolly stylish with a linen jacket, jeans, and no socks. In true gentlemanly style he introduced himself to Michelle first, before sitting down beside me and the interview began.

Forty four minutes later it was all over as we covered everything from his move to China, the state of football here, his relationship with Sven, next week’s final against Seoul, the players and fans here, this year’s World Cup and China’s hopes of one day hosting the event. My task now is to write a 2000 words story that I will send to anyone interested.

He was both charming and interesting and the whole experienced reminded me what I love about my job. Sadly the numerous hints I dropped about not having a ticket, dropped about as subtly as a brick through a window, were not picked up so unless I pay a tout hundreds of pounds I will be in the Paddy Field to watch the final on November 9.

One thing I have to do is decide whether he should push Claire Grogan off my phone!

The interview has caused quite a stir on Weibo and Weixin, Chinese Twitter, and the station head has just come in to the office to say it is going to be the lead story across the station all day tomorrow once the translation has been done into Cantonese.

I had better sign off now as I have a lot of work to do before flying to Shanghai tomorrow for a conference on Saturday.
Bye for now

Matt Horn
Journalist and Journalism Lecturer
University of Central Lancashire and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Host of Face Time on GDTV World, My Guangdong on Radio Guangdong