Where Are They Now? – Italy World Cup Squad 2006

I loved the Italian World Cup 2006 winning team.

They had so many superstars in that squad and in various positions too. They had defensive discipline (well they were Italian after all), they had great passing midfielders and sublime forwards who could unlock the sternest of defences. They also had a squad with such a strong work-ethic that saw every player do their bit for the Azzzurri.

I actually predicted the Italians would go all the way to the final and that won me £200 (I should note my love for Ronaldo was too strong and I predicted Brazil would win the tournament). After the final I bought a Puma Azzurri t-shirt that marked the triumph and then bought a replica gold boot signed by Fabio Cannavaro (which I sold to help fund my now wife’s engagement ring).

Anytime I watch the 2006 final I always get goosebumps, so I thought I’d checkout the stars of 2006 and see what they’re up to now:

Coach: Marcello Lippi 

My first memories for Signore Lippi was as the boss of Juventus in the 90s.

At Juve, he won the lot including Serie A titles and the Champions League. It’s scary how similar that Juventus squad was to the Italian team that would then lift the World Cup.

He needs foot-soldiers that will give 100% in every fixture and would garner so much team spirit. Then he’d add that sprinkle of magic dust that the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Pirlo and Francesco Totti gives your team.

The legendary boss would go on and win Chinese League titles with Guangzhou Evergrande. He seemed to retire from coaching in 2014 but then announced his return in 2016 as the Chinese national team manager.

1. Gianluigi Buffon 

The goalkeeper is without doubt the best of his generation, in my opinion.

Still playing and winning trophies with Juventus, although Buffon has stated he’ll retire at the end of this season unless Juve win the Champions League (A title that missing off his CV).

Was tremendous at Parma and became even better in Turin. Has the respect of his teammates and his opponents. Was a star in the World Cup, playing in every game and keeping five clean-sheets in seven outings.

Unfortunately won’t be at the World Cup this summer due to Italy failing to qualify. The tearful captain said “sorry for all of Italian football” after the Azzurri lost to Sweden in the play-off. He’s has made more appearances for his country than anyone else.

Italian Caps: 175

2. Cristian Zaccardo 

Like many in this squad, Zaccardo has played for quite a few teams in his career. While his CV mainly includes Italian teams like Milan and Parma, Cristian also played abroad, winning a Bundesliga title with Wolfsburg.

Was a regular for Palermo when selected in 2006 and could play as a right-back or in central defence. Had a good engine on him and a decent amount of pace too.

Played three times in the tournament and unfortunately scored an OG in the group game against the U.S.

Zaccardo (aged 36) still plays and is currently at Maltese club Hamrun Spartans, after advertising his services on social media. Not everyday you see a World Cup winner asking for a game on twitter.

Italian Caps: 17     Goals: 1

3. Fabio Grosso

The adventurous full-back was actually a very important member of the Azzurri in Germany 06.

Grosso won a dodgy looking penalty in the final minute in the last 16 match against Australia. It was duly converted and saw the Italians advance. He then scored a last gasp goal in the semi-final against the hosts and then the attacking left-back was the player entrusted by Lippi to put away the last penalty to win the cup, Fabio made no mistake. Lippi would later say that he thought it was fate that Grosso should be the one to do it again with the final kick.

Won Serie A titles with Inter and Juve and would also win a Ligue 1 title with Lyon.

Retired from playing in 2014. Started his coaching career with the Juventus youth set-up before taking the Bari job in 2017, they are currently in fifth place in Serie B.

Italian Caps: 48     Goals: 4

4. Daniele De Rossi 

At just twenty-two years of age, De Rossi was the baby of the group.

He started the opening two games but the feisty youngster was banned for four games after receiving a straight red for a dangerous elbow that left USA striker Brian McBride bloodied. His only appearance after that incident was a substitute in the final itself. He scored in the penalty shoot-out against France.

Daniele has been a one club player, starring for Roma since 2001. He has two Coppa Italia winners medals to his name. In his prime, De Rossi was a fantastic midfielder who could tackle, who had terrific vision and who could also score goals.

He now captains his beloved I Giallorossi and like Buffon retired from the international stage after the last qualifying campaign.

Italian Caps: 117     Goals: 21

5. Fabio Cannavaro (Captain)

The legendary defender was the Azzurri’s captain, so was the first to lift the famous trophy after the final whistle in Berlin.

He might have been small in stature but Fabio was an absolutely fabulous centre-back. A very intelligent player, Cannavaro would effortlessly read the game and sweep up any dangers that happened ahead of him.

Produced some of the finest defensive displays ever seen at a World Cup and he won the tournament’s silver ball and then later on that year he would also be awarded the Ballon d’Or.

The classy defender won plenty of trophies with Parma, Juve and Real Madrid before quitting after a season with Al-Ahli in UAE.

Now manages in China with Guangzhou Evergrande, where he won the Chinese FA’s coach of the year award for 2017.

Italian Caps: 136     Goals: 2

6. Andrea Barzagli

A powerful, commanding defender who wins plenty in the air as well as on the deck. Won his first cap under Lippi in 2004.

Brought to Germany as a back-up and ended up playing in two games in the latter stages and helping the Italians in keeping two clean-sheets.

Andrea has since become a regular in the starting eleven for the Italians since 2012 and has won Serie A league titles with Juventus and also helped Werder Bremen to a Bundesliga triumph in 2009.

The strong, intelligent defender is another that still plays to this day and at the highest level with Juve. He too, retired from international football after the dismal recent World Cup qualifying campaign.

Italian Caps: 73

7. Alessandro Del Piero

Del Piero was one of those gifted individuals who could perform at the biggest of stages. He could be lethal from free-kicks and became a superstar under Marcello Lippi at Juventus in the 90s.

He took part in five of the games at the 2006 World Cup. In the semi-final against Germany he grabbed the vital second goal that knocked the hosts out. After a fast counter attack, Del Piero popped up on the left-hand side. Alberto Gilardino played him in expertly and Alessandro curled the ball beyond the German keeper. The forward would also score his penalty in the final.

Spent the majority of his career with Juve and stayed with the club when they were demoted after the 06′ World Cup. He has the record amount of appearances and goals for the Vecchia Signora. Left Turin in 2013 after almost twenty years at the club. Then had a successful stint in Australia with Sydney FC and then a season in India.

Retired in 2014 and is now a TV pundit in Italy.

Italian Caps: 91     Goals: 21

8. Gennaro Gattuso

I remember seeing the tenacious Rino as a teenager, when he played for Rangers. Although I loved his attitude and desire, I never once expected him to become the star that he ended up becoming!

Gattuso was the spoiler of this team. If someone needed kicked, then Gennaro’s boot was primed to do the kicking. He was an eager midfielder that would chase down opponents and break-up play. Played plenty of minutes during the tournament, making a huge amount of tackles (47) and passes. Yet Rino will best be remembered for his aggressive celebrations, where he’d physically assault Lippi after victories.

After stints at Gers and Salernitana, Gattuso would become a legend at AC Milan. He won two Scudettos and two Champions Leagues with the Rossoneri. 

Is now back at the San Siro as Milan’s manager and enjoying his tenure thus far. He also bossed at Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa before getting his dream job.

Italian Caps: 73     Goals: 1

9. Luca Toni

The powerful number nine was widely tipped to challenge for the tournament’s golden boot but it didn’t quite work-out that way.

He came into the World Cup on the back of scoring 31 times in 38 league games for Fiorentina. Yet he only scored two in Germany, both against Ukraine in a 3-0 quarter-final win. His never say die attitude and aerial ability still caused plenty of opponents problems.

Toni’s prolific form saw him crowned the Serie A top scorer on two occasions (2005-06 & 2014-15). Notably won the league and cup double with Bayern Munich in 2008. Retired in 2016 after two season with Verona. Ended his career having scored more than 250 league goals.

Has since had a short stint in an administrative role with Verona before leaving in 2017. Luca is now being linked with a role at the rebirth of Modena.

Italian Caps: 47     Goals: 16

10. Francesco Totti

Totti was another creative maestro but he also had the leadership and loyal qualities you’d expect from a Roman emperor.

Francesco probably wasn’t as great for Italy as he was for Roma but just having him in the team meant that you had a game changer on the park. Came into the finals after a three month rehab on a ligament injury. He took part in all seven games, providing four assists and a goal against Australia.

Totti was a genius on the field as he could operate as an attacking midfielder or as an all-out striker. His 307 goals is an all-time record for Roma and he was named Italian footballer of the year on four occasions.

Stayed at AS Roma for his whole career and captained them for much of that time. Won the Italian championship in 2001 and retired from playing in 2017. He has stayed on at the club and now serves as a director.

Italian Caps: 58     Goals: 9

11. Alberto Gilardino

Once dubbed the next great thing, Alberto Gilardino just couldn’t seem to settle at one club. In fact he has played for twelve different clubs.

Played in three of the games in 2006, scoring in his side’s 1-1 draw with the United States. Had pace and a work rate that made him an ideal sub and he proved that in the win over the Germans in the Semi.

Was part of the Milan squad that won the Champions League in 2007, won the Italian player of the year award in 2005 and also won the Chinese Super League in 2014 (playing under Lippi).

Another one of the squad that is still playing. He joined Serie B outfit Spezia in October of last year.

Italian Caps: 57     Goals: 19

12. Angelo Peruzzi

Peruzzi was certainly the experienced campaigner for this Italian team. The then thirty-six year old was taken as Buffon’s back-up and Lippi had known him well from their time together at Juve.

Didn’t play at the major tournament but he was a consistent top class keeper; known for positioning qualities and for commanding his area.

Won the lot at Juventus and he also collected three Italian keeper of the year trophies.

After retiring, Peruzzi would hold coaching positions with the Italian FA and Sampdoria. He is now Lazio’s team manager not to be confused with Simone Inzaghi who is the club’s head coach.

Italian Caps: 31 Caps

13. Alessandro Nesta

Another classy defender and one of the best of that generation.

The smart centre-back, who could easily take the ball out of the back-line and play it forward without much fuss, started the group games but unfortunately picked up a groin injury in the match against the Czechs and had to miss the rest of the tournament.

Another leader and serial winner in the pool. Nesta won bucketful of domestic medals with both Lazio and Milan. He would also win the Champions League at AC Milan.

Retired from the national team in 2006 and then from playing in 2014 following stints in Canada and India.

Took charge of NASL side Miami FC (who are co-owned by fellow Italian legend & former teammate Paolo Maldini) and lasted there until the end of last year, citing he was looking for a new challenge.

Italian Caps: 78

14. Marco Amelia

The goalie was yet another back-up behind the phenomenal Buffon and elder statesman Peruzzi.

Was Livorno’s number one in 2006 but failed to make an appearance for the national team at the World Cup.

The talented keeper struggled to hold down a number one spot and spent time at six different sides after 2010, he’d hardly see first-team at any of those sides.

Thirty-five year old Amelia spent a few months towards the end of last season at Vicenza but was released at the end of the campaign and he’s still looking for a new club.

Italian Caps: 9

15. Vincenzo Iaquinta

Iaquinta was a speedy, tenacious striker. He had scored seven goals in Europe during the 2005/06 season, including a Champions League hat-trick for Udinese against Panathinaikos.

Vincenzo made his international debut in a friendly against Iceland in 2005. He’d grab his first goal in the opening game of the World Cup against Ghana. The forward made five appearances in the finals.

After his time at Udinese, the attacker would spend six years at giants Juventus. He had four decent seasons there but injuries always seemed to follow him around, especially towards the end of his time in Turin. He’d also have a loan spell at Cesena in 2012.

He won the Serie A league trophy with Juve but retired in 2013 after failing to make a single appearance in his last year as a professional. In 2015, he was ordered to appear in court over alleged links with the Mafia and for illegally possessing firearms.

Italian Caps: 40     Goals: 6

16. Mauro Camoranesi

The talented winger was as industrious as he was technically gifted. Available to play for Italy as his great-grandfather was born there, thus giving Camoranesi dual nationality.

Was used five times in Germany and started in the final before being replaced by Juve teammate Del Piero. He bizarrely allowed Massimo Oddo to cut off his ponytail on the pitch after the final and many of his teammates danced around it. Mauro finished his Italian career after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Another player who stuck by Juventus during their troubles (helping them back to the Italian top flight) but then felt let down by his departure from the bianconeri and stated that he and others  ‘had to leave by the back door, let’s say.’

Retired from the game in 2014 after stints in Germany and back in Argentina. Unlike others in this squad, Camoranesi seems to enjoy life out of the limelight.

Italian Caps: 55     Goals: 4

17. Simone Barone

Barone is another member of the squad that was a bit of a nomad, playing for eight different Italian clubs.

His strong defensive, versatile performances for Palermo in midfield were enough to convince Lippi to select him for the World Cup winning squad. He appeared in the wins over the Czech Republic and the Ukraine during Italy’s progress.

Retired in 2012 after a year at Livorno. Simone would join Gianluca Zambrotta’s backroom team at Indian side Dehli Dynamos.

Barone is now at Juventus as their under-16’s head coach.

Italian Caps: 16     Goals:1

18. Filippo Inzaghi

Pippo was a legendary striker, who seemed to be gifted at leading the line and scoring vital goals. He had the reputation of being constantly offside, which led to Sir Alex Ferguson saying ‘that lad must have been born offside’ when discussing Inzaghi.

Surprisingly Pippo only made one appearance during the tournament, unsurprisingly he netted in that encounter when he rounded Czech Republic keeper Petr Cech. That goal made Inzaghi Italy’s oldest player to score in a World Cup.

Won Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League titles throughout his career and starred for both Juve and Milan. The prolific marksmen ended his playing career in 2012 and had scored 288 goals by that point.

He would takeover the manager’s job at Milan after a stint in charge as the Primavera boss but he’d only last one year in the hotseat. He’s now at Venezia and has guided them to Serie B, where they are occupying sixth spot in the table.

Italian Caps: 57     Goals:25

19. Gianluca Zambrotta

A great modern day full-back, Zambrotta has played for some of the best teams in the world. He could play on either side and had pace to get beyond players and was also strong in the tackle.

Suffered an injury scare during the build-up but only missed the opening game of the tournament. His key game came in the quarter-final as he scored one, set up another and cleared a chance off his side’s goal-line.

After spending time at Juve, Barcelona and Milan Zambrotta signed off his career at Swiss side Chiasso as a player-coach.

Was made head coach at Chiasso in 2013. Then became the gaffer at Delhi Dynamos in 2016 and is now Fabio Capello’s assistant at Jiangsu Suning.

Italian Caps: 98     Goals: 2

20. Simone Perrotta

Perrotta became a stalwart at Roma, spending nine years with the side. He was a versatile midfielder, who was incredibly hardworking.

The middle-man was used in all seven matches and was in alongside Gattuso to protect the team’s defensive spine. He also set-up Inzaghi’s goal in the group stages.

Saw out his career with La Lupa, helping them to Coppa-Italia triumph in 2007 and 2008!

Was actually born in England and has a statue alongside English World Cup winners Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Armfield in Tameside. In October, Simone started his UEFA B coaching badge.

Italian Caps: 48     Goals: 2

21. Andrea Pirlo

Yet gifted conductor from this era. Had the vision, technique and craft to create and score wonderful goals. Pirlo made the deep-lying playmaker role his own and was a set-piece specialist.

I wasn’t happy when he scored two free-kicks against Scotland, those goals secured his nation’s World Cup qualification. He then scored Italy’s opening goal of the tournament with a whipped in shot from the edge of the box against Ghana. Alongside Totti, Andrea produced the most amount of assists during the tournament. In the final, Lippi stated he wanted his best penalty kick taker to take the opening spot kick and it was Pirlo who stepped forward and scored.

Won plenty of titles (both team and personal) at Milan and then moved to Juventus when many had written him off and he produced more magical performances there!

Pirlo would spend two years at MLS side New York City FC and retired towards the end of last year at the age of thirty-eight.

Italian Caps: 116     Goals: 13

22. Massimo Oddo

Oddo was a determined defensive right-back, who also seemed to relish chances from free-kicks and penalties.

Made only one substitute appearance in the 2006 tournament, playing in the Ukraine encounter. As I stated, he cut off Mauro Camoranesi’s ponytail as part of the celebrations after the final, reports suggest Oddo was a qualified barber.

Retired in 2012, enjoying his most successful spells at Lazio and AC Milan. He won the Scudetto in 2011.

Massimo then had various coaching jobs in youth football before taking over at Pescara in May 2015 and led them to promotion to Serie A. He was sacked in February 2017 and was then offered the Udinese job in November and they’re in eleventh place in the Italian top flight.

Italian Caps: 34     Goals: 2

23. Marco Materazzi

Materazzi was a strong and physical centre-back that wasn’t scared to jump into any tackle that was going.

The Inter Milan man benefitted from Nesta’s injury in the opening match as it was Marco who would replace him in the starting line-up. Let’s fast forward to the final as that was where Materazzi came to the fore. The tough tackling defender gave away the penalty that France scored from. He then scored a nice header from a Pirlo cross to level the score. Marco Materazzi then infamously had a verbal altercation with French star Zinedine Zidane, the Frenchman took exception to comments made about his sister and he head-butted the Italian defender and that saw him receive a red card. To rub salt into the French wounds Marco would score in the penalty shootout and lift the famous trophy!

Spent almost a decade with Inter and won five Serie A titles and a Champions League trophy. Personally, he was named Serie A’s defender of the year in 2007.

Turned up as a player-manager at Chennaiyin FC in 2014 and guided them to the Indian Super League championship in 2015. He left in March 2017.

Italian Caps: 41     Goals: 2

In dedication to Davide Astori (1987 – 2018)

One Response to “Where Are They Now? – Italy World Cup Squad 2006”

  1. […] lot of people get this when they are watching players like Lionel Messi or Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, a stunning goal or a brilliant reflex save can restore your faith in football. There was a moment […]

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