Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola, Johan Cruyff, Kenny Daglish, and Christine Rampone. What do these five of many soccer legends have in common? Well, like other legendary players, after their notable playing careers were over, they became coaches. That’s nothing that is unheard of these days. However, there is a new kid in town that has broken a barrier in coaching.
Her name is Patrizia Panico. She was born in Rome, Italy on February 8, 1975.
From the start of her career, she was known as a deadly striker. After her youth career, she starter her Women’s Serie A career with SS Lazio in 1993 at the age of 18. Recently, her playing days finally came to an end with her last club, Verona, while in her early 40s. During the span of her career from 1993 until retirement, she had scored an incredible 627 goals with notable clubs like Lazio, Torino, and Milan, for example. She also had been a pillar for the Italian National Team team since 1996 scoring 107 goals in her national team career. In honor of her stellar achievements, she was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2015. With that said, she now has plenty of experience to go on to her next phase on her career: coaching a team.
It is nothing unusual for a former player to transition from player to coach. It’s even a plus when coaches have decades of league and international playing experience like a player of Patrizia’s caliber. However, unlike female coaches coaching female teams, Patrizia Panico will be making history. She will become the first female to coach a men’s team. She will be in charge of the under-16 Italian National Team. Her first match as coach will be against the under-16 German Nation Team.
What does Patrizia think about her new challenge ahead? Naturally to her it’s a great achievement, but also that it’s just the beginning. Like ever coaching change, there will be many management challenges to face. As for the gender differences, it never really mattered to her. As a player, it didn’t make a difference if her coaches were male or female. What mattered to her was if they were competent enough to lead the team in a positive, winning, direction. So, she plans to see more female coaches in the same role in the future. In the long run, it’s about success, not gender.
So now, Patrizia Panico, a former striker, now coach, will have to trade in her kit, boots, and warm ups for coaching attire. It will not surprise anyone that she will attack this new challenge like she attacked goalkeepers: no mercy!
“In bocca al lupo, Patrizia!” (that means, “good luck, Patrizia” in Italian) We will all be pulling for you.