Italy coach Marcello Lippi has admitted that he regretted quitting the job after the 2006 World Cup.

Lippi returned to his old position last month after replacing Roberto Donadoni, who left following Italy’s quarter-final defeat to Spain at Euro 2008.

“I immediately regretted leaving the national side. So many times I said to myself ‘what an imbecile I have been’,” Lippi said ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Austria.

“This time round it is even more fantastic.”

Lippi also admitted that players from the 2006 World Cup triumph would not be automatic choices.

“The world champions are not here because of who they are, even if I’ll have feelings for them all my life. Those in the national squad are here because they deserve it,” he said.