The All-Time Italy Football 11
Italy is the most successful football nation in Europe.
They have won four World Cups, with two consecutive coming in the 1930s.
Italy is also known for the style of play known as Catenaccio, in which defense is the main emphasis of play.
The "Azzuri" also boast some of the best defenders to ever play the game.
Their all-time team consists of four generations of football greats.
Goalkeeper: Dino Zoff
Dino Zoff was the captain of the legendary 1982 World Cup winners.
He was also the oldest player to ever win the World Cup, at 40 years, 4 months and 13 days.
He was named the third-greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century, behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks.
But Zoff's most impressive feat is his record for the longest playing time without allowing goals in international tournaments (1142 minutes) set between 1972 and 1974.
Right Back: Giuseppe Bergomi
Bergomi was so good that he was on the 1982 squad at only 18 years of age.
Also known as "Lo zio" or "the uncle," Bergomi holds the record for the most appearances with Italian giants Internazionale, as he spent all of his 20 years of football there.
His impressive mustache is his most recognizable feature, and it earned him his famous nickname.
Right Center Back: Franco Baresi
Franco Baresi is probably the greatest Italian player of all time.
He was voted the Italian Player of the 20th Century by FIGC. He was the anchor of the Italian defense for more than 10 years.
Baresi was also a one-club man.
Big mistake by Inter, letting go of a world-class defender. His No. 6 jersey would be retired by AC Milan.
Sweeper: Gaetano Scirea
Scirea was probably the most important defender on the 1982 Italy squad.
As the sweeper, it was his job to take care of any attackers that may have gotten past the first line of defense.
His ability to read the game was what made him so good at the position.
The most impressive part is that he never earned a red card in his career, something that is very rare for a defender.
Left Center Back: Paolo Maldini
In 1963, Paolo Maldini's father, Cesare Maldini, lifted the European Cup trophy for AC Milan.
When Paolo joined Milan in 1984, a lot was expected from him because of all the success Paolo's father had.
Paolo would, however, exceed the success his father had. He would win three more Serie A titles and four more European cups.
Paolo has plenty more accomplishments in his career, and he is the only player other than Baresi to have his jersey number retired by Milan.
Left Back: Giacinto Facchetti
Giacinto Facchetti was a pioneer of his position.
During his time, full-backs usually stayed on defense and waited for attackers.
Facchetti, however, decided to experiment with the attacking role, and would become of the first truly great attacking full-backs—and arguably the best at his position.
Facchetti also played his defense with skill, rather than ruthlessness like many defenders.
He received a red card only once in his career, for sarcastically applauding a referee.
His No. 3 shirt was posthumously retired by Inter Milan, his club of 18 years.
Left Center Midfield: Sandro Mazzola
Sandro Mazzola was part of the legendary Inter team of the 1960s, along with Facchetti.
He was a complete midfield player, with superb vision and passing skills and great attacking abilities.
He was even able to play as a forward.
Like Paolo Maldini, he had football in his blood.
His father, Valentino Mazzola, an Italian legend, played for Torino.
Unfortunately, he died in the Superga air disaster on May 4, 1949, when Sandro was only six.
Center Midfield: Gianni Rivera
I really wanted to put Andrea Pirlo instead of Rivera, because I am a big fan of his. But I wouldn't feel right about it.
Rivera is not only the best passer in Italian football history, but could be the best passer ever.
He was a crucial member of the 1968 European Championship Italy squad.
Rivera became the second Italian to win the Ballon d'Or in 1969.
He is currently the President of the educational youth sector by the FIGC for the Italian national football team.
Right Center Midfield: Bruno Conti
Bruno Conti was actually a winger, but I assume someone of his skill could play at any position.
He was an incredibly fast player with great dribbling technique, and he's one of the best crossers of all time.
He played an instrumental role in Italy's 1982 squad as one of the best players of the tournament.
He helped set up the final goal by breaking down the right side from the half-way line and crossing to Alessandro Altobelli to score from the top of the box after 81 minutes.
Left Forward: Giuseppe Meazza
The most important player of Italy's first two world championships was Giuseppe Meazza.
He was ranked the fourth-best player in the history of the World Cup.
Meazza was a complete forward in every way: goal-scoring instinct, dribbling ability, passing skills and an exceptional heading ability—even though he was only 5'6" tall.
He played for all three Italian giants: Inter, AC Milan and Juventus.
When he played for Inter, he scored 241 goals in 348 matches.
Today, the San Siro Stadium, shared by rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan, is officially called Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Right Forward: Roberto Baggio
"The Divine Ponytail" Roberto Baggio is one of the most skilled players there ever was.
Baggio was so good that, when he left Fiorentina for Juventus in 1990, there were riots on the streets of Florence where fifty people were injured.
He would win the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993.
Baggio was also one of the best World Cup players ever. He is the only Italian to score in three different cups.
His most famous goal came in 1990 against Czechoslovakia, when Baggio scored the goal of the tournament and ran past three defenders, getting one of them off balance before slotting the ball past a helpless Czech keeper.
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