Today, Sept. 3, marks the 20th anniversary of a sad day in football history. Gaetano Scirea was killed in a car accident while on a scouting mission in Poland for his beloved Juventus. He was, and still is, regarded as the benchmark for all Italian defenders. Adamo Digby recalls the man known as "Il Capitano."
Gaetano Scirea was without doubt one of the great players in world football. He is one of only five players in European football history—joining Antonio Cabrini, Sergio Brio, Stefano Tacconi, and Danny Blind—to have won all national and international trophies for football clubs recognized by UEFA and FIFA.
He played for the Azzurri for more than a decade, an irreplaceable part of the defense, becoming World Champion in 1982.
Scirea was a graceful defender of great skill and tactical ability. In contrast to the ruthless tactics often employed by other defenders, Scirea was renowned for his class, fair play, and sportsmanship.
He was never sent off or suspended during his career, an amazing achievement, which says a lot about his temperament and his level of skill.
During the '80s Juve was full of stars. Although there were players such as Bettega, Zoff, Tardelli, Platini, Brady, Boniek, Gentile, and Furino, to name a few, one stood above them all—captain Gaetano Scirea.
He was a clean fighter, capable of transmitting confidence and strength at the same time. On the evening of the Heysel Stadium tragedy in Brussels in May 1985, it was Scirea who spoke on the microphone to try to calm the thousands of fans traumatised by what was happening.
The absolute class of Scirea is the yardstick by which all Italian defenders are judged. He was calm and Baresi-esque before Franco had earned his first cap.
By dedicating the Filadelfia stand—where the hardcore fans gather—to Scirea, Juventus did what was right and proper. This is not named in his honour lightly.
Any fan doubting the greatness of "il capitano" has just to think of the endless list of legends who've worn the Juventus shirt.
Then think that above all these, the curva is named for our Scirea. This alone tells you all you need to know about the man known simply as, the captain.
Juventus' latest signing, Fabio Grosso, spoke yesterday of his honour in being given the No. 6 shirt at the club, the number worn by Scirea.
"To wear the No. 6 of Juventus will be a great honour and a privilege. Carrying the number that represented Scirea, a legend of football and a man who to this day still represents an example for all players, helps make me feel part of a long and glorious history."
Scirea's widow spoke of the poignancy of another Italian World Cup winning defender wearing the number, and praised Grosso saying he "knows what significance it holds for all the fans."
Gaetano Scirea. Sadly missed, especially today.