Gianni Rivera’s goal: 1970 semi-final versus West Germany
The Golden Boy’s goal in the ‘Game of the Century’, may have not been his best in the blue shirt but surely it was his most crucial. Coming on in the second half for Sandro Mazzola, as part of Coach Ferruccio Valcareggi’s infamous Staffetta, the Milan striker showed why the Coach distrusted him. Half asleep on the near post, he allowed Gerd Muller’s soft header to beat him, as Germany equalised 3-3. However, less than a minute later everything was forgotten as ‘Abatino’ cleanly and accurately side-footed home the winner.
Marco Tardelli’s scream and goal: 1982 Final versus West Germany
If there is one seminal image in Azzurri World Cup history it has to be the one with Tardelli caught 'mid-urlo' after scoring Italy’s second goal in the 1982 final. Turning away, from the goalmouth, his head shaking back and forth, his eyes staring maniacally ahead, arms outstretched, he screams with the utter joy of it all. And although Tardelli’s reaction reflected just how much it meant to him, his teammates and Azzurri fans world-wide, the goal itself was just as wonderful. Perched on the edge of the D and collecting the ball following a slick six-man move, the Juventus midfielder smacked it into the bottom left corner with his outstretched left foot as he fell, before going off on that fabulous run.
Alessandro Altobelli’s goal: 1982 Final versus West Germany
With a 2-0 score-line there was always the chance that Germany could come back. Yet once the dashing Bruno Conti had driven into the area and centred for Altobelli it was soon to be all over. The Inter forward, on as a sub for Francesco Graziani, dragged the ball to the left, beat the ‘keeper and with 10 minutes to go screamed his left footer into the net.
Paolo Rossi’s hat-trick: 1982 semi-final versus Brazil
In what has been termed one of the greatest games of all time, Paolo Rossi scored a wonderful hat-trick to send the Azzurri into the Final. His first came after just five minutes when Antonio Cabrini crossed from the left to find Pablito steaming into the area to head home. Twenty minutes later he pounced again before completing his hat-trick 15 minutes from time. Brazil had equalised twice but had no response after his third. “It one of the most important goals I have ever scored, freeing me psychologically and it also increased my motivation,” he said after a game that secured his eminence amongst Calcio’s immortals.
Roberto Baggio’s goal: 1990 group stage versus Czechoslovakia
Italy were leading 1-0 when Roberto picked the ball up in his own half. Moving up field he exchanged a superb one-two with Il Principe, Gianni Giannini, before putting on the after burners. Over the next seven seconds he touched the ball nine times, destroyed three defenders and jumped a leg-breaking tackle to reach the goalmouth. Once there he fooled the ’keeper placing the ball to his right instead of the expected far corner, scoring a wonderful individual goal that was later described as ‘a piece of art’.
Salvatore Schillaci’s goal: 1990 group stage versus Austria
Whenever the 1990 tournament is mentioned an image of a pair of bulging eyes and flailing arms comes to mind. These of course belonged to the unlikely hero that was Toto Schillaci. Before this opening game the Juve striker only had one cap to his name. However, after running on to Gianluca Vialli’s cross to thunder a header past Austria’s goalkeeper Klaus Lindenberger in the opening encounter, the highly likeable little Sicilian became a household name. After getting Italy off to a flying start he eventually went onto to become the Golden Boot winner with five more goals to his name.
Robert Baggio’s performances at USA ‘94
You could probably make 10 moments of Baggio magic alone but in the 1994 World Cup a series of brilliant performances saw him drag a moderate Azzurri side into the final. Kicking off with his last minute crucial equaliser against Nigeria, 10 minutes later in extra-time he scored the subsequent winner with a fabulous penalty. In the quarter-finals it was his late winner in the 2-1 victory over Spain. Then his two cracking goals against Bulgaria took Italy into the Final against Brazil. Say no more.
Fabio Grosso’s goal: 2006 semi-final versus Germany
With the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes the game moved into extra-time and remained scoreless until the Palermo left-back netted the opener in the 119th minute. Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had no chance as Grosso’s first time shot from the right was curled home from Andrea Pirlo’s ball. The Italian fans went wild, the Germans were stunned, then seconds later they were knocked out, as Alessandro Del Piero finished the game with an a delicate chip into the corner to send Italy storming into the Final.
Fabio Grosso’s penalty: 2006 Final versus France
At 1-1 and extra-time only producing Zinedine Zidane’s red card, both sides lined up for penalties. It soon became 4-3 to Italy and if Grosso missed the final kick France would have a chance of drawing level and taking penalties into sudden death. However, Fabio was made of iron and nervelessly took an extra bit of time to place the ball just right. On the sidelines Coach Marcelo Lippi took off his glasses, wiped them and turned away. Six seconds later the whistle went, Grosso took his run up and slammed the ball into the top right-hand corner. Cue bedlam as the whole squad ran towards him to celebrate. “Campione del Mondo. Abbiamo Vinto.”
Fabio Cannavaro’s performances at Germany ‘06
The Azzurri Captain stood out magnificently throughout the finals and won the Silver Ball award for his performances. Popping up everywhere to clear balls, win aerial duels, set attacks in motion and generally be the perfect captain - he led by example and was a complete rock. Over the seven games the Azzurri only conceded twice, one a penalty, the other an own goal. Such was his performance in the final that he earned the highly appropriate nickname ‘The Berlin Wall’, as he and six other Azzurri were voted into the Team of the Tournament.