Italy's FIFA World Cup™ winning captain Fabio Cannavaro has declared his intention to still be available to Italy when they make the defence of their world crown in South Africa in 2010. The Real Madrid defender will be 36 when the tournament kicks off in Africa for the first time ever, but he told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he will still have plenty left to offer returning FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi.
"If the coach wants me, I will be there to retain the World Cup in South Africa. I will always make myself available. Always," he said. "I will have to work more, as at 35 years of age (he turns 35 on September 13) everything becomes more complicated. But playing for Italy is a pleasure and an honour. It's unique."
Cannavaro, who is recuperating from his pre-UEFA EURO 2008 knee injury, doesn't expect Lippi to radically change the Italy line-up, though is aware that a number of Gianluigi Casiraghi's under-21 team will start to establish themselves in the senior squad. Defender Giorgio Chiellini has led the way, the Juventus defender filling in for Cannavaro in Austria and Switzerland and is likely to be Cannavaro's partner in central defence when he returns to action.
"It's true that my generation are starting to lose little things and that it is time to think about the future," he said. "Giuseppe, who I see in Spain (for Villarreal), is excellent and there is (Alberto) Aquilani. They only need a bit of experience. In defence Chiellini was excellent (at EURO 2008) and there is (Andrea) Barzagli and (Alessandro) Gamberini. There's lots of youngsters, but if one is truly excellent you will only tell in the big games."
The Naples-born Cannavaro also feels that there could be return for a pair of heroes from the Germany 2006 campaign, if they want it. AC Milan's Alessandro Nesta and Roma's Francesco Totti both retired from international football following the triumph in Berlin, but since the departure of Donadoni both are thought to be considering a return to international action.
He said: "I don't think it would be bad. It happened in France with (Zinedine) Zidane and (Lillian) Thuram (before the 2006 FIFA World Cup). The door is always open and the rules are the same for everyone."