FABIO CAPELLO handed England the perfect boost before they jetted out to the World Cup last night by pledging to stay on as manager until after the 2012 European Championship.
Capello, 63, had sparked unease in the camp in recent days by refusing to commit beyond this summer’s tournament, with Inter Milan thought to be keen on luring him back to his homeland.
But the Italian laid doubts to rest and lifted spirits by agreeing with the Football Association to remove a clause from his contract that would have allowed him to walk away after the World Cup.
The deal, signed yesterday before Capello and the squad boarded an overnight flight to South Africa, reaffirmed his commitment to England for at least another two years.
The former Real Madrid and AC Milan coach, who took charge in 2008, had been unsettled by the recent resignation of FA chairman Lord Triesman, but was reassured after a conversation with Club England chairman Sir Dave Richards.
“I am very happy about this and would like to thank Sir David Richards and the FA for their continued support and assurances about my future,” he said. “I always wanted to stay until the end of my contract. In South Africa, we are totally focused on the World Cup.”
Capello and his 23-man squad squad reassembled yesterday at a Hertfordshire hotel, where they were kitted out with their official suits, provided by Marks and Spencer, and ate a meal before heading for Heathrow airport.
After the traditional runway photocall they boarded their Virgin Atlantic flight to Johannesburg, from where they will travel to the state-of-the-art complex in Rustenburg that will be their base for the tournament.
The FA said in a statement: “The FA can confirm that Fabio Capello is committed to managing the England team until the 2012 European Championship. An amendment to his employment contract was signed and exchanged today, with break clause options for both the FA and Fabio being removed.”
Richards said: “We are very pleased to have Fabio’s commitment for another two years and it is good that we have been able to resolve this before the team flies to South Africa. Now we can all concentrate on the World Cup and give Fabio and the players our full support.”
Inter president Massimo Moratti targeted Capello after losing Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid, and was said to be prepared to offer him a 50 per cent increase on his current salary, which is more than £5m.