Gaetano Scirea, born on the 25th of May 1953 in the small Lombardy town of Cernusco sul Naviglio, is arguably the most decorated and talented Italian footballer in Calcio history.
Scirea began his footballing career with humble Bergamo outfit Atalanta. Scirea made his Serie A debut for the Nerazzurri against Cagliari on the 24th September 1972. He made an immediate impact and many took notice of the young defender.
Scirea would spend two seasons at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia before joining the club that would transform him from a man to a demigod… Juventus.
Scirea made his debut for the Italian national team, under legendary coach Enzo Bearzot, against Greece on the 30th of December 1975, just over two years since making his Serie A debut. Once at Juventus, Scirea settled in quickly and formed a legendary defensive partnership with tough-tackling hardman Claudio Gentile.
The two were complete opposites in almost every department. Gentile was a loud outspoken figure who relied on bullying the opposition’s attackers into submission, while Scirea was the quiet “libero” (sweeper) who preferred to play with grace and tactical ability and lead by example.
Perhaps it was this contrast in the two’s styles that made it such a successful partnership. Scirea and Gentile’s partnership for Juventus as well as the national side resulted in incomparable success.
Scirea would go on to play for La Nazionale for over a decade and spend 14 seasons at Juventus.
With Italy, Scirea formed part of a legendary Azzurri team for the 1982 World Cup that included players like Dino Zoff, Franco Baresi, Giuseppe Bergomi, Antonio Cabrini, Bruno Conti, Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Gabriele Oriali.
Italy started the tournament slowly and were held to draws with newcomers Cameroon, Poland and Peru. Italy qualified for the next round only because they had scored one more goal than Cameroon had.
The Italian media critisied the national team’s performances, while the players were still reeling from the recent Serie A betting scandal. Italy were then grouped with Argentina and Brazil, the task of reaching the semi-finals seemed almost impossible.
Thanks to a solid defensive effort and goals from Tardelli and Cabrini the Italians coasted past Argentina. Then followed the greatest attacking game in World Cup history as Italy managed to trump Brazil 3-2 to set up a semi-final with Poland.
Italy were a wall in defence and brushed Poland aside 2-0 in the semi-finals. Italy went on to beat West Germany 3-1 in the final, with Scirea and Gentile crucial components of Italy’s triumph.
Scirea went on to play in the 1986 World Cup but Italy were knocked out in the second round by France. Scirea announced his international retirement after the tournament having notched up 78 caps and two goals.
With Juventus, Scirea joined the elite in history. He is one of only five players to have won every single international club trophy recognised by FIFA and UEFA. He is also only one of nine players to have won the three major UEFA club football competitions.
Scirea at his time with Juventus won seven Scudetti, two Italian Cups, one UEFA Cup , one UEFA Cup-Winners Cup, one European Cup , one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
Scirea hung up his boots at the end of the 1987-88 season and immediately took up the role of a scout for the Turin giants.
However a year later Gaetano Scirea died in a car accident in Poland after going to scout Juventus’ next opponents in the UEFA Cup, Górnik Zabrze. Scirea’s car collided with another vehicle that was carrying canisters of gasoline, which exploded on impact and killed Scirea and three other passengers instantly.
In 2005, at the suggestion of former national coach Enzo Bearzot, Italy and Juventus both retired the No.6 jersey in recognition of Scirea’s incredible service.
Since Scirea’s death many fair-play and sportsmanship awards have been given his name due to the manner in which he always conducted himself on the field.
Recently the annual Memorial Gaetano Scirea tournament, which incorporates 18 under-14 sides from across Europe, took place. The tournament ended with Inter claiming their fifth title in the competition with a 3-0 victory over Juventus. The tournament honours the memory of Scirea and certainly does his career justice with a great quality of football from the youngsters.
Gaetano Scriea will always be remembered for his humility and conduct. Of all his achievements perhaps the most impressive one is that he never received a red card in his entire 513 game career. His World Cup win in 1982 cemented him as a legend, but his Juventus success made him mythical.
Riposa in pace Gaetano.