When Italy were preparing for their 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany, all attention was on what Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Cannavaro could do to help restore the reputation of Italian football after the Calciopoli scandal. . Quite simply, no one expected a low-key Palermo left-back to be their most important player.
However, that is what happened. Prior to the 2006 World Cup, Palermo’s Fabio Grosso finished fifth in Serie A and was a relatively unknown quantity outside of Italy – by the end of the tournament Grosso had scored one of the most iconic goals in the 2006 World Cup and scored the decisive penalty in the final shootout to ensure his name went down in Italian history.
Addressed exclusively to FourFourTwo in the latest issue available to order, Grosso recounts his lasting memories of the tournament, playing alongside revered defenders such as Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta and Gianluca Zambrotta.
“For me, the big moments started in the Round of 16, when I won the late penalty that sealed a 1-0 win over Australia,” Gross explained. “I thought it would be impossible to repeat a moment like that, but then came the semi-final against Germany.
“It was described as the game for us: we were in Dortmund, in their home country, and we felt responsible for all the Italians living in Germany, who gave us so much love. of extra time, the game was still 0-0 when the ball reached me thanks to a brilliant pass from Andrea Pirlo.
“When you play with amazing players like him, you realize they can do things other people can’t. He wasn’t looking at me, but I was hoping he spotted me. He could do it – he would see you without looking at you. Thank God he did. When I scored, I just ran.
Of course, Grosso’s celebrations have earned him comparisons to Marco Tardelli’s in the 1982 World Cup final, where he simply ran around aimlessly, shouting the whole time. However, the left-back claims that didn’t cross his mind, especially given the magnitude of the goal and the time of the game.
“It was the 119th minute and I went through so many emotions,” admits Grosso. “All the years spent preparing for this moment passed before my eyes – the goal opened a window to my past.
“When I watch it now I still feel the same overwhelming feelings – it’s hard to put it into words. It was just fantastic to win that game – it was amazing to help our nation achieve such a feat sporty, reaching the final World Cup.”
Scoring that goal secured Italy a World Cup final game against France in Berlin. With the game tied 1-1 after 120 minutes of football, a penalty shootout awaited.
“I was ready to take Italy’s fifth place,” Grosso said. “These are crazy times in which you think you can do anything. We were up against a France team with several players who had won the World Cup in 1998, while many of us were playing in the lower Italian leagues .
“At that point, however, the difference was no longer there. I was happy to take that fifth penalty, but I didn’t expect Lippi to ask me. He told me afterwards that because I had been decisive against Australia and Germany, he felt that I could be decisive against France too.
“Luckily I converted the winning penalty and everything went well.”
Now Grosso manages in Serie B with Frosinone, a city southeast of Rome. Although WhatsApp was not invented when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, the winning Italian team has a group on the messaging platform to continue their memories of that night in Berlin.
And, with several members of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad currently in the same division as Grosso, the 44-year-old enjoys meeting his former teammates across the country.
“Serie B is a tough division. It’s also a league that contains many of my Azzurri teammates – this campaign Serie B started with Pippo Inzaghi coaching Reggina and Gianluigi Buffon playing for Parma.
“Later Fabio Cannavaro became the boss of Benevento and Daniele De Rossi was appointed to SPAL. We all like to catch up, and the 2006 team still have a WhatsApp group. Our relationship is great – we shared the greater emotions.
“Even if we don’t talk to each other for a while, when we do, it feels like time hasn’t passed. We are bound by something so big – it’s like an invisible thread. In 2006, we went through some unforgettable experiences together.These memories will never fade.