Italian national Soccer

Italian national soccer team 2012There are a number of daily national newspapers completely devoted to sport. The three main ones are Gazetta Dello Sport, Corriere Dello Sport, and Tutto Sport. Every day without fail they report on the previous day's sports events and nothing else. Everything is covered, from motorsport to cycling, from volleyball to fencing.

But way out in front in column inches is 'calcio' - football, soccer - call it what you will.

One for the album - Italy's national football team, UEFA Cup 2012.

It's the national sport and there is enormous interest and pride in it and particularly in the Italian national soccer team, the 'Nazionale', more commonly called the 'Azzurri'. They are the Azzurri because of the dark blue shirts - 'Azzurri' meaning 'blue' - which are their traditional colours.

The FIFA World Cup
The Italian national soccer team and the beginnings of the World Cup.

The stunning FIFA World Cup.

Of course, Italian pride in their football team is not misplaced as they have been hugely successful.

Although the Italian Football Association was formed in 1898, the national team did not play their first game until 1910 when they started their celebrated career by beating France 6 - 2.

Since then, they've won the 'Federation Internationale de Football Association' - better known as FIFA - World Cup four times which makes them the second most frequent World Champions, with just one win less than Brazil. Furthermore, Italy can proudly claim to be the first European winners of the competition.

Giuseppe Meazza, one of the greatest ever playes on the Italian national soccer teamAt its beginning, the FIFA World Cup was not the huge deal that it is now and Italy, along with many other countries, did not enter the inaugural competition in 1930, which was won by Uraguay. But after that - there was no stopping them.

The 1934 Italian national soccer team - best ever?

Giuseppe Meazza, taken in 1935.

In 1934, coached by Vittorio Pozzo, the Italian national soccer team won their first ever World Cup. That team included some of the greatest players of that era : Monti, Ruffino, Rosetta, Ferrari. But the real Colossus of the squad was Giuseppe Meazza.

Football historians still consider Meazza the greatest ever Italian player. The magnificent stadium which is home to Milan and Inter, known to football fans worldwide as the San Siro, is in fact called the Giuseppe Meazza San Siro.


With more or less the same squad, Italy went on to retain the World Cup in 1938. Sadly, the second World War then put an end to the competition until 1950, and that great team would not be seen again.

The Italian national soccer team, the swinging '60s and the sensational '70s!

Although they would not be winners of the World Cup again until 1982, Italy remained a team to be feared. By the mid-1960s they had re-grouped and were widely seen as favourites for the 1966 tournament. But in one of the greatest shocks of international soccer, the team were knocked out by North Korea.

To compensate for the 'blip', Italy went on to win one of the World Cup's 'little brothers', the European Championships, in 1968.

Including fantastic players like Fachetti, Riva, and Rivera, the Italian national side were again World Cup favourites in Mexico in 1970. In one of the greatest ever games at international level, they beat West Germany 4 - 3 in the semi final before losing to a fabulous Brazil team in the final.

Fabio Cannavaro, Captain of Italy in the 2006 World Cup Cesare Prandelli, the Italian national team's coach Mario Balotelli, one of the Italian national soccer team stars. Go to the home page of Explore Italian Culture

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