FLORENCE, Italy, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Marcello Lippi said he was an imbecile for quitting as Italy coach after their 2006 World Cup win.
The 60-year-old returned for a second stint in charge in June after Roberto Donadoni's departure following a disappointing quarter-final exit at Euro 2008.
'I immediately regretted leaving the national side. So many times I said to myself 'what an imbecile I have been',' Lippi told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Austria.
'This time round it is even more fantastic.'
Lippi's first squad in his second spell included several of his 2006 heroes but he warned they 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.
Lippi refused to say why he had surprisingly omitted Sampdoria forward Antonio Cassano and AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini.
The coach's first competitive games will be the World Cup qualifiers in Cyprus on Sept. 6 and at home to Georgia four days later.