2021 – The Summer Of Giorgio Chiellini

You couldn’t separate the Italian defensive duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini this summer at Euro 2020.

Well UEFA managed to do it as the dumped veteran Chiellini out of the team of the tournament in favour of England’s Harry Maguire (Source Uefa.com) . A ridiculous decision if you ask me. Especially when you consider no player at Euro 2020 managed to dribble past the Italian centre-backs.

Throughout his career I don’t think people have shown Giorgio the respect his football has deserved.

He has been at Juventus for the last sixteen seasons. In that time the warrior has won nine Serie A titles, a Serie B triumph and five Coppa Italia trophies. Only twice in those years with the Old Lady did Giorgio fail to make twenty-five or more appearances in a campaign.

With the Azzurri this European Championship win joins the U-19 Euros he won back in 2003. He has amassed 112 caps for the senior national side.

Personally he has won the Serie A defender of the year three times, the team of the year five times and the Uefa team of the year once.

Chiellini is a player that will give his heart and soul for the cause that he’s fighting for, whether it be for Juve or Italy!

He’s an aggressive, tough SOB. Any player that comes up against the Italian will know that they’ve been in a war. He’s not scared to put in a rough challenge, barge an opponent out of the way or as England’s Bukayo Saka found out in the recent final – yank back a nippy winger!

He uses all of his thirty-six years experience to his advantage. That’s why he peaked for Italy this summer, in my opinion. He has been there and seen it all before and knew how the react to all the scenarios that presented themselves.

During the Euros – the central defender won on average 2.6 headers per game, 1 tackle per appearance, 1.8 interceptions and a whopping four clearances per game too!

It wasn’t just the defensive side that he shown, he enjoyed a passing success record that was sitting just above 90% (Stats from Whoscored).

His biggest asset though, for me, was his leadership. Having him beside Bonucci mean that the spine of the team was experienced and they were well versed in what the other was doing. Chiellini would often talk others through games, show a calmness in the difficult situations and always lead by example.

I don’t think it was by chance that the talented Leonardo Spinazzola was given the freedom to attack at will from his left-back position. Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini could trust that veteran Chiellini would be on hand to mop up any potential attacks that could come from that lefthand side.

The Italians feared that they had lost their captain when he hobbled off, during their second group game against the Swiss. He was then rested for the final group encounter before coming back and flourishing in the knockout stages. Again he had the experience to know to stop and not make the injury worse and has looked after himself over the years, which aided in a speedy recovery.

It was refreshing to see a throw back tough tackling central defender flourish during this summer. He was uncompromising in the challenge but always played with a smile on his face.

Giorgio Chiellini would passionately belt out the Italian national anthem and then play with that same undeniable passion. He was a gladiator and a warrior who led his team to glory. He’s always been that way and we really should give his name more respect!

In that vein, here’s quotes about the Euro winning star from greats of the game:

“He knows what he is doing. This is a top defender and a very clever guy.

“I played Juventus with Manchester United a couple of seasons ago, and after the game at Old Trafford, I said something like: ‘These two guys should go to University of Sports and give lectures on how to be a central defender’.

Jose Mourinho – Via Punditarena.com

“Giorgio Chiellini is my heir.”

“Chiellini is a great player and I’m hardly the first to point that out. He is physically strong and still young, so he can achieve great things in the Nazionale.

Fabio Cannavaro – Via Football Italia

“For us, Chiellini is fundamental, also as a point of reference in the dressing room for a young squad. And the moment he steps on the field, you already know that he will give everything.”

Roberto Mancini – Via Goal.com

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