Italian coach Marcello Lippi said Tuesday in Dortmund that Italy's success in reaching the World Cup final after their 2-0 victory over Germany fulfilled all his dreams as a coach.
"This is the realisation of a dream that has lasted a long time," said Lippi.
Three-time world champions Italy held off hosts Germany, who also boast three World Cup titles, 2-0 with two last minute goals in the extra time from defender Fabio Grosso and substitute forward Alessandro del Piero.
"If there was a team that was going to win this game, it was going to be us," Lippi said.
"We dominated the match and we were tired at the end and risked a bit, but not too much." he said.
Although Italy's goals arrived in the 119th and 120th minutes, Lippi said the Azzurri's victory was thoroughly deserved.
"In my view we controlled the match. We played against 50,000 people - the German supporters were fantastic.
"We played a great game and we played better than Germany for the first 90 minutes.
"We scored two excellent goals - it was good that we avoided penalties because as you know, this is always a lottery.
"They should be proud of what they've done, proud to have respected all the love and enthusiasm that there is in Italy for them," he noted.
Unlike most of his counterparts, the Tuscan-born coach has only ever worked in his country of birth. This does not mean that he lacks experience, however, it includes a full range of coaching positions from the youth sector through the lower leagues right up to Serie A.
Despite never having played for Italy at senior level, Lippi gained a wealth of experience over the years playing in his country's top flight as a central defender for Sampdoria. His rise to the top of the managerial tree also began at the Genoese club where he started as a youth-team coach.
The turning point for Lippi came in the 1993/94 season when he led Napoli to a place in the UEFA Cup. The achievement was all the more remarkable given the financial turmoil of a club still basking in the triumphs inspired by Diego Maradona.
A motivator rather than a strategist, Lippi is not bound by a rigid tactical approach. He earns the respect of his players thanks to this flexibility as well as his own personal charisma and sincerity.
Lippi and Juventus parted company during the early part of the 1998 season. The man they call "Paul Newman", thanks to his striking resemblance to the actor, returned to top-flight management at Inter Milan after only a few months' absence. He endured a frustrating time with the Nerazzurri, however, before resigning after the first league match of the 2000/01 season.
Lippi returned to Juventus during the summer of 2001 and enjoyed considerable domestic success before his appointment as coach of the Italy national team in July 2004.
Italy secured their passage to the FIFA World Cup finals with relative ease and subsequent victories over the Netherlands and Germany in friendly matches raised expectations considerably, leaving Italian fans looking forward to Germany 2006 with real optimism.
Italy have often underperformed when handed the mantle of favourites. The responsibility for reversing this trend lies with Lippi who must try to emulate his success at club level with the national team.