Paris:The coaches of the 16 finalists at Euro 2008 cover a broad range from the colourful to the elderly to the ones who are raw in the job. Here are brief descriptions of each one:
Luis Aragones (Spain): For many 70-year-old Luis Aragones should have been pensioned off after the 2006 World Cup finals but the 'Wise man of Hortaleza' has manged to survive rather longer than he allowed Spanish football icon Raul, who despite a serious return to form this season was left out of the squad. Aragones' omission of him looked even more questionable when the Real Madrid striker was named Spanish footballer of the year. Aragones dislike of yellow and close to the bone remarks about black players especially Thierry Henry have placed in serious question his nickname. Perhaps 'The teflon man of Hortaleza' would be more appropriate.
Karel Bruckner (Czech Republic): Karel Bruckner looks like someone who never left the Woodstock music festival in the 1960's with his unfashionably long grey hair. However, the 68-year-old is professorial in his outlook to tactics and being a keen chess player he views football similarly. Survived the disappointment of bowing out of the 2006 World Cup in the first round and is the first Czech coach to qualify the side for three successive major finals since the old Czechoslovakia in 1954-62. Bows out after these finals.
Fatih Terim (Turkey): While Aragones might be loose with his tongue Fatih Terim, 66, is even fierier as he illustrated in disgraceful fashion when Switzerland knocked Turkey out in a 2006 World Cup finals play-off qualifier. He actively urged on his players to attack their Swiss counterparts for which he was punished. However, 'The Emperor' is a legend in his country and deemed untouchable.
Lars Lagerback (Sweden): Lars Lagerback may not qualify automatically for a pension given he is 59 but in terms of longevity he is not far off it. Co-coach with Tommy Soderberg since 1998, he has been in sole charge since the 2002 World Cup finals. Undemonstrative and certainly not in the same temperament bracket as Aragones and Terim, he nevertheless brings a calm if unspectacular authority to his job.
Jakob Kuhn (Switzerland): Jakob 'Kobi' Kuhn is in the same mould as Lagerback. Not for him the grand emotional gestures and intemperate language of others, simply calm and sanguine responsibility which given the paucity of his resources is understandable. A respected international footballer himself he has made a relatively decent wine out of not a great vintage.
Roberto Donadoni (Italy): Roberto Donadoni may only be 44 but he looks a decade older than that with his grey hair and rather well worn look. Who wouldn't in being coach of Italy, and the former graceful AC Milan and Italy wing has certainly not enjoyed a trouble-free ride since he took over from the smooth World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi. Now armed with the majority of the 2006 squad he has to try and add the European title but with a new contract taking him to 2010 it gives him some form of security.
Joachim Loew (Germany): Rather like Bruckner, Joachim Loew looks more like rock musician or someone who has a permanent love for the Beatles with his long straight hair. However, the 48-year-old, while he is taking probably the favourites to Euro 2008, doesn't quite have the onerous responsibility as Donadoni in that he was assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann at the 2006 World Cup finals and was complimented by the latter in declaring that 'Loew was always more than an assistant to me'.
Slaven Bilic (Croatia): At 39 Slaven Bilic is the baby of the coaches but has already shown a deft coaching ability in refreshing his squad after they went out in the first round of the 2006 World Cup finals. The rock and roll-playing coach, who favours jeans and sneakers to sober suits, has been linked with jobs in the English Premiership but recently signed a contract extension with the Croats.
Larger than life:
Fatih Terim (Greece): Fatih Terim may be 'The Emperor' but Otto Rehhagel is 'King Otto' to the Greeks having brought them unparalleled success since he took over delivering the 2004 European title against all the odds and requalifying them for this edition having missed out on the 2006 World Cup finals. However, you cross him at your peril for in true regal style he brooks no argument from the players and it is thanks to his highly disciplinarian style that they have flourished.
Luiz Felipe Scolari (Portugal): When Terim's Turkey meets Luiz Felipe Scolari's Portugal in their opening Group match on June 7 expect fireworks and that will not be confined to the pitch. For 'Big Phil' - who bears a striking resemblance to Hollywood star Gene Hackman - is if anything more combative than Terim. Fine strategist and motivator that he is he also can overstep the mark as he showed when he struck Serbian Dragutinovic during a qualifier which earned him a two-month suspension. Should the Turkey-Portugal clash descend into the farce of the 2006 World Cup second round match between the Portuguese and the Dutch then either coach could land a knockout punch.
Raymond Domenech (France): Raymond Domenech's first match as a professional player saw him break someone's leg. Since becoming French coach he has certainly not broken the ice with the press or with several stars such as Ludovic Giuly or David Trezeguet. Indeed sitting on his dais sphinx-like in facial expression the nuggets he has thrown to the press have been more like chicken ones than golden. Results so far back him up without suggesting he is a master coach, rather, that luck has been on his side and many are hoping that runs out sooner rather than later.
Marco van Basten (Holland): Marco van Basten will step down at the end of the tournament to take over at his beloved Ajax to see whether he can revive their fortunes. He has not really done that to The Netherlands national side and once again it has largely been down to internal discord where Marc van Bommel, at one point Ruud van Nistelrooy and recently Clarence Seedorf have refused to play for him. It is not so much van Basten's fault as a seemingly recurring theme in the Dutch side which has persistently cost them dear. The Dutch great will hope that with Seedorf not going that the atmosphere will be less fractious and he can deliver them their second Euro title 20 years after his stunning goal helped give them their first.
Guus Hiddink (Russia): Guus Hiddink also has experience of the Dutch poison having been accused of running a racially divided team at the 1996 Euro finals by Edgar Davids before patching it up with the combative midfielder in time for the 1998 World Cup finals. Hiddink, though, has gone on to build a reputation for being one of the best coaches in the world with persistently good results with South Korea, Australia and now Russia. However, his weakness seems to be a predilectoin for cautioun at times typified when the Aussies were one man to the good against Italy in the second round of the 2006 World Cup but ended up losing to a controversial penalty.
Leo Beenhakker (Poland): Leo Beenhakker has been round the block, like the above pair having been in charge of the Dutch national side, and entered many an international house in his 65 years and the Poles are his latest port of call. Canny coach who makes the most of what he has got as he showed with Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup. There could well be another destination for him after these finals as one of the better coaches who are football's equivalent of guns for hire and travel continents to coach teams.
Josef Hickersberger (Austria): Josef Hickersberger hasn't had a lot to laugh about during his second tenure as national coach - indeed he didn't have a lot to giggle about when in his first spell Austria were beaten by the Faroes Islands - and it clearly shows in his demeanour. However, he does possess a dry humour and he will clearly need it for the team that is going to take the pitch for these finals is a long way from the one he graced in the 1978 World Cup finals and saw them beat defending champions West Germany.
Victor Piturca (Romania): Victor Piturca is also in his second spell in charge of the national side and gives off the image of being the epitome of dourness. Plainspeaking, he gives it to the players with both barrells - something that cost him his job in the first term. However, he has given his side renewed self confidence and is much respected by them both for his advice to them on and off the pitch. For someone so glum looking it is no surprise that he was addicted to playing cards when he was a player, only that he more often than not ended up the loser for he has the archetypal poker face.