Giorgio Chiellini is the defensive giant Italy have been waiting for since Paolo Maldini waved goodbye to international football. Very much the archetypal Italian centre-half, Chiellini is adept at marking opponents out of the game and is a dominant presence in the air.
After coming to prominence as a left-back in a four-year spell with his hometown club of Livorno, Chiellini made his Serie A outing in that same position with Fiorentina in September 2004.
A veteran of Italy's UEFA European Under-19 Championship success in 2003 and a bronze-medal winner in the Athens 2004 Men's Olympic Football Tournament, he played his first game for the full national team against Finland just two months after his Viola debut. His upward curve then continued with a move to Juventus in 2005.
In 2006/07 Juve coach Didier Deschamps asked Chiellini to switch to central defence, a position he made his own the following campaign alongside Nicola Legrottaglie.
Having also shown his class in the Italy shirt, he made three appearances at UEFA EURO 2008, and the recently returned Marcello Lippi now has the luxury of pairing Chiellini off with Cannavaro to form a formidable duo at the heart of the Azzurri defence.