When it comes to soccer, Italy has always been an international powerhouse and a home to some of the biggest club teams in the world.
The "Azzurri" are four-time World Cup champions, winning in 1934, 1938, 1982, and in 2006, and were also the European Champions in 1968. A.C. Milan won the UEFA Champions League seven times, Inter Milan three times, and Juventus twice.
With big name players like Ronaldo, Lothar Matthaus, Diego Maradona, and Kaka, the Serie A was a preferred destination for world class foreign players. It was also home to great homegrown Italian players like Paolo Rossi, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Baggio, and Dino Zoff. For many years, Serie A was the best league in the world, and it provided the Italian national team with a tremendous pool of players who helped the team flourish.
Italian soccer reached the summit in the summer of 2006 when Fabio Grosso converted the game winning penalty kick against France. The entire nation celebrated as Fabio Cannavaro lifted the trophy at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Ever since, Italian soccer has not been the same.
Serie A is now the No. 4 ranked league in Europe and has lost a spot in the Champions League starting next year. The Italian national team has also fallen to 11th in the top 25 rankings and did not make it out of an easy group in the 2010 World Cup.
This downward spiral in Italy is due to several reasons.