Sunday May 13 2012
End of an era

Today Serie A and Susy Campanale wave goodbye to some of the most representative figures of the last 20 years.

One can’t help but feel this is a watershed moment in Italian football. How fitting that on the same day we should lose stars like Alessandro Del Piero, Pippo Inzaghi, Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Ivan Cordoba, Gianluca Zambrotta and Kakha Kaladze. These are the players many of us grew up watching. Their exit is a reminder of how much time has passed for us all. Il tempo passa...

I fondly recall watching Juventus fight back from 2-0 down to beat Fiorentina 3-2 in 1994 with what remains the greatest goal Del Piero has ever scored. Long ball over the top, he let it go past his shoulder between two defenders and volleyed with the outside of the boot to curl into the top corner. Majestic. “This kid is good,” we all grinned at the television. That was the exact time Juve realised they could afford to let Roberto Baggio go. Maybe Sebastian Giovinco’s wonder strike for Parma last week was the mirror to that moment. Alex leaves on a high and can now teach a new generation in America just how special football can be.

Nesta and Di Vaio are also heading to the MLS, which has become a sort of retirement village for calcio stars who don’t feel ready for a desk job just yet. They will join the likes of Bernardo Corradi and Matteo Ferrari out there in North America. Gattuso’s destination is not yet known, but a return to Glasgow Rangers would indeed be special. He always was a generous soul and to help their rebirth would be typical of Rino. Kaladze hangs up his boots to go into the world of politics, bringing freedom to his native Georgia.

There will be emotional scenes at San Siro and the Juventus Stadium this afternoon. Tears are to be shed throughout the land – even the world – as the stars of our youth say goodbye. I still see the images of when they first appeared on the scene. Nesta before he learned to straighten his hair, Gattuso stomping around clean-shaven like a stroppy toddler, Zambrotta a winger in a Bari jersey and Seedorf with his flailing dreadlocks. The older you get, the faster time seems to move.

Many of them will return to Serie A as Coaches, I am sure of that, but I can’t help feeling they are needed right now. New defenders in particular are hard to come by in Italy and badly require teachers like Nesta.

Arrigo Sacchi and Baggio were put in charge of youth development in the Italian Federation, but imagine an academy of football excellence with classes on defending run by Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro and Paolo Maldini. Gattuso can drive the desire to win at all times, even in a meaningless friendly, into them from an early age. Inzaghi can be professor of being at the right place at the right time, although he might need his own lessons on how to avoid the offside trap. And Del Piero should be their headmaster, an example of how to command respect and admiration from colleagues and opponents alike. Alex leaves Juventus setting that example to the next generation – dignity and class.

Arrivederci, ragazzi

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Have your say...
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO, sei sempre nel nostro cuore♥ La juve senza di te, non posso immaginare...

Thank you Del Piero!!!
on the 13th May, 2012 at 2:28pm
Ciao Super-Pippo, the most important Italian player of the last 50 years.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 2:23pm
I must say it is a sad day for all Juve fans to lose our legend Alex he has done so much for this team it will be a long time till we see another player like him, but also for the league to lose champions like Nesta, Sedorf, Zambrotta, Inzaghi and Gattuso they will be missed. Farewell Alex and hope u do come back to us someday in the future.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 2:19pm
Susy, those players will be sorely missed... for sure. But I wonder whether it was just a mistake to leave out Cordoba from your list...
on the 13th May, 2012 at 1:19pm
Bye Alex
on the 13th May, 2012 at 12:43pm
Sad doesn't begin to describe the emotion that I feel about these Azzurri champions. On such a happy Mothers Day the loss of these sons of the Azzurri of overwhelming and that is all.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 12:38pm
Grazie to my favourite player Sandro Nesta, bravo to milan senators Super Pippo, Professor Seedorf, Rino, Zambro so also V.B thanks for your tireless effort. Ale Del & co calcio will missed you guys. forza milan !
on the 13th May, 2012 at 12:37pm
I was 10 years old in 1994. It's the time in a boy's life when you look for heroes to immitate on the sports field. In life I believe you can only have a select few idols, because at a certain age you get too old for adoration. When this generation leaves and a new one enters the field, the feeling just won't be the same anymore. We've all grown up, grateful to have lived our youth in their era, playing together with these greats in our imagination.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 12:34pm
Today is the first time i am crying for 2 different reasons simultaneously. My left eye is shedding tears of joy (for our 30th scudetto) while my right eye is shedding tears of sadness (because of Capitano's last game). Bye Bye "Alex The Great" , hoping to welcome you back as our Director in future ala Nedved. Also Bye to my Milan opponents (not enemies) Nesta, Pippo, ...
on the 13th May, 2012 at 11:48am
grazie di tutti
v il definitely miss u
Serie A il miss u
nd most notablt Italia il miss u
on the 13th May, 2012 at 11:47am
Luckily, ADP fans will still get to watch him for another few years wherever he goes.. maybe china, or japan, or UAE or even america. Or hopefully all four for one season each!
on the 13th May, 2012 at 11:11am
I have to say it will be a very sad day, going to miss del piero, I also remember that goal against fiorentina. Fell in love with Seria A and will always love the league.

Hope Del piero goes on to be successful and returns to Juve one day.

I am glad that Juve won the league, fitting way for Del Piero to sign although the sentimental in me will always wish he finnished holding the Champions League trophy and Seria A trophey.

Good luck Del Piero and thank you for the memories,
on the 13th May, 2012 at 11:06am
:(( this is 2009 all over again when we saw nedved , maldini and figo leaving us on the same day
And Zambrotta is getting a very underrated farewell , dont forget we are seeing one the best full backs of our generation leaving
on the 13th May, 2012 at 11:00am
Did not predict it would come to this dramatic end. Seeing Gattuso, Nesta, Pippo, Alex et all depart together is spine chilling. It is like we were so engrossed in enjoying their presence that no one prepared for their departure. At Milan it feels like we are back to 1993 when Rijkaard,van Basten, Gullit all left at the end of the season. This is when life sucks. Thanks guys and see you all soon.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:56am
Such is life. And everything starts must have an end. We will miss these players, but never forget them. Forza Italy.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:54am
Nice article. I love Alex. And forza them all..
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:54am
Good one. I totally agree with defenders point. Nesta should teach new generation. I am an Interista. But Nesta is the best centerback we never had.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:33am
These guys will be sadly missed, i grew up watching all these guys on channel 4. Legends, particularly alex. I'm glad i got to witness a true champion, one of the like i don't think we'll see again. Arrivederci capitano, you will be sorely missed.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:29am
Forza Del Piero! Welcome to Eternity of football legends! Ciao & Grazie...
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:20am
A wonderful article, and yes tears will be shed all over the world. More should be said about Del Piero and what impact he has had on the Italian game, so why not check my 750 words of dedication to this legend on my blog.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:16am
Nice farewell words, Susy. And I'm sure you also write this on behalf of your colleagues.

As a fan of Italian football, it's indeed touching for me to see so many stars walk away on the same day, especially Del Piero, a true fantasista, a rare player to be found on these days. It remains to be seen if Giovinco can be a great fantasista like Baggio, Del Piero, Totti, et al. were and are.

With this message, I would like to pay tributes and say thanks to those leaving. We'll miss them.
on the 13th May, 2012 at 10:15am

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