Italy defender Gianluca Zambrotta has hit back at claims the Squadra Azzurra is full of golden oldies. Italy will head to South Africa in the coming weeks hoping to defend the FIFA World Cup™ trophy they won in Germany four years ago.
However Marcello Lippi has come under some criticism for filling his squad with players well into their thirties. But AC Milan defender Zambrotta brushed off the claims.
"We don't have an old team," said Zambrotta, who was speaking from the squad's altitude training camp in Sestrieres. "There are nine of us in the squad that won the World Cup four years ago, that's a good ratio. The current squad is a mix of youth who are enthusiastic to show what they can do and experienced players who want to do just as well, and win the World Cup in the process."
Personally, I don't feel old and I'm really looking forward to the tournament. I still have plenty of juice in my legs and a lot to contribute to this team, just like a lot of my teammates in their thirties.
Zambrotta, 33, added: "Personally, I don't feel old and I'm really looking forward to the tournament. I still have plenty of juice in my legs and a lot to contribute to this team, just like a lot of my teammates in their thirties. In any case, there's always going to be some scepticism about the selection, we're used to it and we know how to handle it."
After their camp Italy will take on Mexico in a friendly game in Brussels on 3 June and Switzerland in Geneva two days later. The Azzurri are scheduled to arrive in South Africa on 9 June ahead of their Group F opener with Paraguay in Cape Town on 14 June. They then face New Zealand in Nelspruit on 20 June before rounding off their group campaign against Slovakia in Johannesburg on 24 June.
For former Barcelona and Juventus defender Zambrotta, they have only one objective in South Africa. "Winning again won't be miraculous, but a beautiful achievement," he said. "In 2006 we knew it was going to be very difficult but we won. And today we're here determined to go all the way."