On a summer night in Germany when two footballing powerhouses locked horns in 2006, a child who always dreamt of wearing the famous “Azzurri Blue” became the man to serve his nation.
Fabio Grosso, born on 28th November,1977 stepped up to take the last spot kick that would make Italy the world champions of football. Cool as a cucumber, Grosso slotted the kick past Fabian Barthez as Italy were crowned world champions.
Known to produce the best defenders of all time, Grosso came under the limelight when he joined the Sicilian club in the January transfer window of 2004. The player tasted instant success as Palermo were crowned champions of Serie B. Grosso thus had his oppurtunity to play in Italy’s elite division.
In his debut season in Serie A, Grosso put up a decent show as Palermo finished 6th to earn a spot in the Europa league. The next year, they again put up an impressive show to finished a solid 8th. With Grosso’s impressive show in his two seasons, the national team came calling.
Under Marcelo Lippi’s guidance, Italy had a formidable squad and Grosso made the left back spot his own. In the round of 16 of 2006 world cup as both Italy and Australia were caught in between an even situation, Grosso made an advancing run down the left flank when he was allegedly fouled by Lucas Neill in the box. Penalty to Italy and buried in the corner by Francesco Totti took Italy in the semis.
But as far as career defining moments are concerned the Roman born defender wasn’t done yet. Facing arch rivals Germany, Grosso did have a love affair with tight situations. While Germany wanted to end their hoodoo against the Italians, the Azzurris looked to maintain their 100% record against Germany in international tournaments.
Grosso again had his moment as he scored the first goal in the 119th minute of extra time. He went into the box and belted in a curling shot past Jens Lehmans. Regarded as one of the most important goals in Italy’s history, the man himself could not believe it as cries of “Nin ci Criedo!” came out from the mouth of a jubiliant Fabio. Italy finally buried the game when Alessandro Del Piero scored again to send Italy into the finals of the world cup.
Five days later, again he had the limelight on him. Italy won the world cup 5-3 on penalties after a score of 1-1 in regulation time as Grosso put home the last penalty.
The renowned defender won major honours on club level as well wining the Serie A with both Inter Milan and Juventus until he hanged his boots at the start of the 2013-14 season. Grosso took up a coaching role with the Juventus youth system.
Photo by Abdullah AL-Naser