By Salvatore Landolina
Legendary Inter figure Sandro Mazzola has given his backing to Roy Hodgson, after the West Brom boss was given permission to speak to the FA over becoming the new England manager, citing the 64-year-old as an "excellent choice".
Mazzola, who spent 17 distinguished years as a player at San Siro, was Director of Sport at Inter and was involved in Hodgson's appointment to the Giuseppe Meazza hot seat in 1995. They worked alongside each other during the latter’s reign, with the Englishman leading Inter to a Uefa Cup final during his two-year spell in charge.
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England have been without a manager since Fabio Capello's resignation in February, and Hodgson's ascension to number one choice for the FA has divided opinion, especially when Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp appeared to be the man labelled as favourite to inspire the national side.
However Mazzola, now a respected commentator and analyst on Italian channel RAI believes Hodgson is the right man to lead England at Euro 2012.
"I believe Hodgson is an excellent choice for England. He is a great coach and someone who knows how to get the best out of players, especially at an international level," Mazzola told Goal.com
"He has plenty of international experience having coached national teams during his career.
"He is a coach who chooses his players carefully and knows how to assemble competitive squads, he was also an advisor to Uefa and so he knows the international football circuit very well, it's a role I believe will suit him and England.
Naysayers have suggested that Hodgson's troubled spell at Liverpool in 2010 means that he isn't cut out to deal with top-level players and that management at mid-table clubs is his niche, but Mazzola firmly disputes such claims, believing Hodgson to be better suited to management at international than club level.
"Hodgson is a very clever coach, he is intelligent and I firmly believe he is better suited to managing a big national side like England rather than a club team" continued Mazzola.
"In my opinion he has always proved to be better at international management."
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After England's dismal showing at the 2010 World Cup under Capello, supporters are looking a much improved performance in this summer’s tournament than his much-vaunted predecessor. However, Mazzola believes that whether Hodgson can prove more adept at leading the side at a major tournament than the Italian, will, in the end, come down to the players themselves.
"That is very hard to say" opined Mazzola.
"It depends on many factors, the players he has at his disposal at the time of picking his squad. It also depends on the players' mentality and form when they arrive at Euro 2012."