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“If the same spirit we had in Germany returns, we can do something important” – Fabio Cannavaro

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Fabio Cannavaro Closes a Great Azzurri Career

He may be 37 years of age and perhaps past his prime, but with 133 caps for the Azzurri, he is a legend. This will be his last international tournament. Next season, he will play for Al-Ahli in Dubai. He has featured at the following senior level tournaments: World Cup 1998, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002, Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, Euro 2008. He has been the Azzurri captain since the retirement of Paolo Maldini in 2002.

Ball Boy at World Cup 1990

Fabio grew up literally a stone’s throw from the Stadio San Paolo in Naples. He was a ball boy during the games in Naples during the World Cup. Fabio witnessed Diego Maradona and Argentina eliminate the Azzurri in the semi-final round on penalties. He may be the only ball boy in world football history to raise a World Cup.

Encountered Diego Maradona at Napoli

Fabio entered the Napoli youth ranks at the same time that Maradona starred at the club. Here was an interesting anecdote from that period:

“Relentless in his man marking, Canna once found himself given the opportunity to mark his Argentine hero in training. So eager to impress, the Neapolitan took to the challenge like a duck to water. Persistent and ruthless, he wouldn’t let Maradona out of his sight until a member of the coaching staff asked him to ease off the star player.

Nobody idolised Maradona more than Cannavaro, yet not even the Argentine legend could intimidate the short centre back. Leaving the stadium, Maradona once noted that every time he came across this little starlet, he knew he had just witnessed a phenomenon.”

Source: Lessons in Calcio: Fabio Cannavaro.

Here were a few of his thoughts from South Africa:

italy training session If the same spirit we had in Germany returns, we can do something important   Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro hopes for seven more caps with help from his friends

No Superstars on the Azzurri

Non abbiamo una stella come Ronaldo, Messi o Rooney. I fuoriclasse in Italia non ci sono e il tecnico fa scelte diverse. Noi non potremo mai giocare come brasiliani, spagnoli e portoghesi. Come loro non potranno mai difendere come noi. Noi abbiamo in dovere di crederci, fino in fondo“.

“We don’t have a star like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney. There aren’t superstars in Italy and the manager makes different team selections. We will never play like Brazilians, Spanish and Portuguese. Just as they will never be able to defend as we do. We have the will to believe in ourselves from start to finish.”

Il fuoriclasse magari non è solo chi fa una giocata ma chi dà continuità alla propria azione, chi sa creare gruppo e aiutare i compagni. vedo gente come Di Natale, Iaquinta, Gilardino che da anni dimostrano il loro valore a livello internazionale e possono dare contributi fondamentali. E poi mi piace anche Pepe, per come sta crescendo. Se ritorna quello spirito che c’era in Germania penso possiamo fare qualcosa di importante. Sono altri i nostri valori“.

“The superstar isn’t only one who makes a play but who gives continuity to his own action. One who knows how to create a group and help his mates. I see players like Antonio Di Natale, Vincenzo Iaquinta, and Alberto Gilardino who for years demonstrate their value at the international level and can give fundamental contributions. And then I also rate Simone Pepe for how he is developing. If the same spirit that we had in Germany returns, I think we can do something important. Our strengths are other things.”

cannavaro lippi If the same spirit we had in Germany returns, we can do something important   Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro training under the watchful eye of Marcello Lippi in South Africa

The Difference from Germany 2006

Certo di quella difesa che c’era 4 anni fa manca qualcuno. Ma Lippi sta lavorando proprio sulla fase difensiva. Negli ultimi anni si era un po’ perso un certo modo di difendersi e il nostro c.t. sta cercando di riproporlo. Chiellini a sinistra? Non so ancora chi e come giocheremo, sta provando diverse soluzioni. Poi troverà quella giusta. Nel 2006 venivamo da tante partite che eravamo sempre gli stessi, ora stanno crescendo nuove generazioni“.

“Surely, our defense lacks something compared to four years ago. But Marcello Lippi is working right now on the defensive phase. In the last few years, a little was lost in our defensive style and our manager is looking to bring it back. Giorgio Chiellini on the left? I don’t know yet who and how we will play. He (Lippi) is trying different solutions. Then he will find the right one. In 2006, we came from so many games that we were always the same. Now we are building new generations.”

cannavaro dos santos If the same spirit we had in Germany returns, we can do something important   Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro in action against Giovanni Dos Santos of Mexico last week

On His Transfer to Al-Ahli

Vado a Dubai, perché dopo l’anno che ho passato è giusto cambiare per me e la mia famiglia. Tornare a giocare dopo in Italia? No. Ho 37 anni e non ci penso più. L’esperienza all’estero ti arricchisce, l’ho già fatta. Di sicuro mi mancherà la Nazionale. Penso il segno di averlo lasciato comunque. È sempre qualcosa di speciale. Quando scendo in campo e canti l’inno ti senti un Paese alle spalle.”

“I’m going to Dubai because after the last year that I spent (at Juventus), it is right to change for me and my family. To return to play afterward in Italy? No. I’m 37 and that will be it. The foreign experience enriches you (not monetarily but in character) and I’ve already done it. Surely, I’ll miss the national team. I think it has left a mark. It is always something special. When I walk out onto the pitch and sing the anthem, you feel the country on your shoulders.”

Italian Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, June 11, 2010.

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Washington, D.C. He writes the World Football Commentaries blog. He has written for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio (Italian soccer school), Football Media, Keeper Skool and Soccerlens.

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