2010 FIFA World Cup: Cannavaro Should Already Have Retired From Italy

Frank TiganiCorrespondent IJune 23, 2010

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 20:  Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro leaves the field dejected after failing to beat New Zealand during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group F match between Italy and New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium on June 20, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When he finally does retire from football, to most, Fabio Cannavaro will be remembered for his colossal displays in Germany during the 2006 World Cup where as captain he led Italy to victory in Berlin.

However, many will also remember how dramatically the form of the former FIFA World Player of the Year would fall in the years following that momentous World Cup in Germany.

In the wake of Italy's 2006 triumph, Cannavaro moved to Real Madrid to escape Serie B  which Juventus was relegated to as punishment from their involvement in Calciopoli.

However, Cannavaro's three years spent at Real Madrid were not a success by any stretch despite landing the 2006-07 La Liga title. 

The truth of the matter is, Fabio Cannavaro has not been the same player that propelled Italy to claim its fourth World Cup title ever. In fact, he has not even been a shadow of the same player.

Rather, Fabio has been woeful in the four years since Germany. Sure, he has had some good games here and there both in his time at Real Madrid and Juventus, but overall, Cannavaro has been distinctly average or even worse.

Having returned to Juventus last season following his Real Madrid failure, Cannavaro still was unable to perform at the level that we as fans had become so accustomed to seeing from him over the years.

Instead, he was at times a liability to Juventus and if it were not for the fact that he was supported by the best centre back in Italy at the moment, Giorgio Chiellini, he would have been made to look much worse.

In reflection of Cannavaro's rather unflattering form in the last four seasons since Germany, to put it mildy, it is without doubt that Lippi has not chosen Cannavaro based on his form. 

It is easy to understand how Lippi maintains his loyalty to a player who clearly is well past his prime. After all, Cannavaro led Lippi's Azzurri to World Cup glory. That victory in Germany was not only Cannavaro's grandest achievement as a player, but it was also Lippi's grandest achievement as a player or a coach and Lippi has Cannavaro to thank for this.

Given the circumstances, it would have been best for all concerned if Cannavaro retired from international football. Because Cannavaro is no longer an asset to the Azzurri, as has been ever so evident in Italy’s first two matches in South Africa.

In both games Italy have conceded one goal and both these goals were because of mistakes by Cannavaro. In the first game against Paraguay, he was out-jumped by Alcaraz who put Paraguay ahead, forcing Italy to come from behind.

Against New Zealand, Cannavaro literally gave the ball on a platter to New Zealand’s Shane Smeltz for him to fire the kiwis ahead. Again in this game, Italy were forced to come from behind for the second game in a row and again because of another mistake by the Italy captain.

If Cannavaro had retired from the Azzurri, then perhaps Salvatore Bocchetti and Leonardo Bonucci would have more than five caps between them and thus both would be better prepared to perform for Italy at this year’s World Cup.

To Italian fans, Fabio Cannavaro will always be remembered for delivering Italy’s fourth world cup title in a time of much distress in Italy’s calcio.

However, many will remember how Cannavaro just played too long. Many will remember his insipid displays at the Santiago Bernabeu and his distinctly average performances for the Old Lady in his last season in Serie A.

Barring a miraculous change of form, by playing for Italy in this year’s World Cup, Cannavaro has risked being remembered for his failures rather than his achievements. This is very unfortunate and this is why it would have been a better option if he had quit while he was ahead.