Likewise their rivals Brazil and Germany, the Italian national team is also one of the most successful national team in the game of football. Due to their consistency in FIFA world cup and Olympics and their major achievements, they have had much rivals. Till date, there are some national teams that don't like crossing paths with Italy in FIFA world cup tournament because of how tough they are. They have actually produced world class players that have won several individual awards including Ballon D'Or which is considered by many to be the most prestigious individual trophy in football. Most players in the world always aspire to play in Italian clubs due to the high level of experience and exposure of their players and managers. Below are three of the greatest Italian players of all time.
1. Fabio Cannavaro
Without mincing words and meandering of thoughts, the best Italian player remains Fabio Cannavaro. He is an Italian professional football coach and former player who played as centre-back.
He led Italy to victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. In total, he has represented Italy at four World Cups, two UEFA European Championships, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. He is currently Italy's second all-time appearance holder, behind Gianluigi Buffon, as well as Italy's most capped defender.
Some of his major accolades include the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, making him the only defender in history to have won the award. He also won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the only defender to win the award in a decade.
2. Luigi Riva
Another great Italian player who ranks as one of the best is Luigi Riva. He is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a centre-forward.
He is considered to be one of the best players of his generation, as well as one of the greatest strikers of all time. At the international level, he won the 1968 UEFA European Championship and was runner-up at the 1970 FIFA World Cup with the Italian national team. He also took part at the 1974 FIFA World Cup. With 35 goals in 42 appearances between 1965 and 1974, he is Italy's all-time leading goalscorer. He was runner up for the 1969 Ballon d'Or and came third place in 1970 Ballon D'Or award.
Some of his milestones include the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 1968, World Soccer's 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time in 1999, Golden Foot Football Legends in 2005. He was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and was also inducted into the Walk of Fame of Italian sport in 2015.
3. Gianluigi Buffon
The Italian professional goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is also one of the greatest player in the history of Italian football. He currently plays as a goalkeeper for the Serie B club Parma. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. He is one of the few recorded players to have made over 1,100 professional career appearances.
He also represented Italy at four European Championships, at the 1996 Olympics, and at two FIFA Confederations Cups, winning a bronze medal in the 2013 edition of the tournament. Following his performances during the 2006 World Cup, where he kept a record five clean sheets, he won the Yashin Award and was elected to the Team of the Tournament, an honour he also received from UEFA after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 and the final of the 2012 European Championship.
With 176 international caps, he is the most capped player in the history of the Italy national team, the seventh-most capped footballer of all time and the third-most capped European international player ever. He also holds the record for most appearances for Italy as captain after he inherited the armband in 2010.