Part two- Alessandro Del Piero, Pinturicchio
Quite possibly the most talented of the three, Alessandro Del Piero holds a special place in the hearts of Old Lady and Azzurri fans. Although then a secondary figure in the Italian national side, his goal against Germany as a substitute invokes emotion more than most other goals. For Italy fans, it seemed like a tournament of redemption after the catastrophe four years earlier where the Italians suffered from the referee at what seemed to be every juncture in a shambolic World Cup. That moment where he skilfully placed the ball to the right and over Jens Lehmann was a sweet symphony of joy that reverberated around Italy. The great man had effectively put the crowning cap on his international career with a truly momentous goal that made us forget how peripheral he was in that tournament. Who cared really?
Del Piero was most at home as a supporting striker or seconda punta, although broadly classified as a fantasista or playmaker. While Pirlo fit the bill of a regista in his latter days, and Totti a trequartista, Del Piero was always more forward thinking, more a goal focused man. Therefore, while he must be the most talented of the three, his use of that talent belongs third on that list based on his overall record. In terms of pure personal, individual achievement most would admit that we did not see the absolute maximum from the great man. His legacy, however, transcends whatever unfulfilled personal goals he had. A Juventus man through thick and thin, even in that demotion to Serie B, Del Piero and a few others put team over person. His decision to stick with the team then and ensure their promotion the next season propelled him further into club legend status. Scoring 316 goals at a rate of just over one every two and a half games, Del Piero had the benefit of and the challenge of playing alongside many other Juve greats. At times, his own place was sacrificed most notably to accommodate new signing Zlatan Ibrahimović during a tough period under Fabio Capello. The Italian manager was not convinced by the Italian’s ability to age well. He played all of eight more years. So much for that judgement.
Del Piero belongs to a rare breed of Italian, the ones with the nonchalant flair that seem to do it with such ease. In that sense, the three maestros are one in the same. They exude calm and class. When a type of goal is named after you you begin to grasp the magnitude of your contribution to the game. He became so synonymous with the goal drifting in from the left flank and curling it into the top left hand corner that the area just outside the box on the left hand side is known as the ‘Del Piero zone’. He wasn’t the first to do it and he won’t be the last; however, Del Piero’s legend demands his recognition for that goal.
Free Kicks, Important goals, and His Legacy
One of the best free kick takers of his generation, Del Piero scored 22 direct free kicks in Serie A placing him third behind Sinisa Mihajlovic and Andrea Pirlo himself while landing ahead of Roberto Baggio. The measure of a great footballer is in how he performs on the highest stage and at the most crucial moments. In that he excels. His 44 Champions league goals speak for themselves. His accolades say it all. The timeliness of his goals say it all. He’s won everything there is to win with the exception of the Euros.
The man looms larger than life as his contribution far outweighs the over 300 goals, the manner in which they were scored can make it appear as if the figure were closer to 500. Such was the class of the man. Had he not had such competition from Baggio and Totti his international numbers could have looked more impressive as there was often some sort of sacrifice. Had he not played around such stars at Juventus he would have been tasked with scoring more. As it stands his record is a great one. Mere statistics do not do him complete justice, and his talent would suggest he was capable of racking up even more impressive numbers; but we’re fine with that.