Scirea remembered as Italy seek repeat
The vast majority of the Italy squad who won the 1982 FIFA World Cup will be in Berlin tonight hoping to see their successors follow in their footsteps. And should the Azzurri prevail against France, the class of 82 will dedicate the victory to the memory of their deceased former team-mate Gaetano Scirea, a model professional both on and off the pitch.
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That squad that conquered the world that summer in Spain was: Dino Zoff, Ivano Bordon, Giovanni Galli, Giuseppe Bergomi, Claudio Gentile, Scirea, Pietro Vierchowod, Franco Baresi, Fulvio Collovati, Antonio Cabrini, Gabriele Oriali, Giampiero Marini, Giancarlo Antognoni, Marco Tardelli, Bruno Conti, Giuseppe Dossena, Franco Causio, Franco Selvaggi, Daniele Massaro, Paolo Rossi, Alessandro Altobelli and Francesco Graziani.
Look back at the 1982 FIFA World Cup
All but one of these Italian legends will be at the Olympiastadion tonight, some in official capacities and others simply as fans. Bergomi, for example, will be working as a commentator, whereas Bordon will be on the bench, just as he was almost 24 years ago to the day. The only difference is that then he was Italy's reserve goalkeeper, whereas now he coaches the team's shot-stoppers.
Only the fantastic sweeper from the class of 82 cannot be present tonight. Scirea was killed on 3 September 1989 at the age of 36 in a road accident near Warsaw in Poland. At the time of the accident he was working for Juventus, the club with whom he won everything on offer in European football and who named a stand in the Stadio delle Alpi in his honour.
When asked how they remembered him, the defender's former Nazionale team-mates, many of whom also played for Juventus, were unanimous in their response: "A great guy, who was liked and respected by everyone." In footballing terms, he was one of the finest exponents of the Italian art of defence.
As well as being a peerless defender, Scirea could also be called upon to play as a stylish and charismatic midfielder when circumstances required. It was he who started the move that led to Tardelli scoring Italy's second against West Germany in the 1982 Final. His exemplary career, during which he was never sent off and which has been compared with that of Ruud Krol and Franz Beckenbauer, helped to change the public's perception of the sweeper's role.
Scirea made his international debut in 1975, at the age of 22, in Italy's 3-2 win over Greece. Ironically, he ended his Azzurri career against tonight's opponents France during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. He won 78 caps and scored two goals during a long international career that also included three FIFA World Cup appearances. His club career consisted of 397 Serie A appearances and 24 goals. While playing at Juventus he won seven league titles, two Italian Cups, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA European Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup - an impressive list by anyone's standards.