Ok, it’s time to feel old.
On this day 13 YEARS AGO Italy beat France 5-3 in a penalty shootout to win their fourth FIFA World Cup.
And, yes, that means that on this day 13 YEARS AGO Zinedine Zidane created the first-ever football meme after headbutting Marco Materazzi into the upside down.
So while you (and I) wallow in the acquiescence of time, contemplate mortality, talk about the ‘good old days’ etc. why not find out what all of the 2006 FIFA World Cup winners are up to now?
Spoiler: one is a convicted criminal.
Gianluigi Buffon is still going strong at the age of 41, and looks set to finish his career at Juventus after re-signing for the club this summer.
His quest to win the UEFA Champions League goes on, but no matter what happens during the 2019/20 campaign, he’ll be remembered as the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
One of the many, many, many players to leave Juventus in the aftermath of Calciopoli, Gianluca Zambrotta was at the peak of his powers at the 2006 World Cup, but these powers then steadily declined during spells at Barcelona & AC Milan.
Following his retirement in 2012, the Azzurri legend would transition into management – but not that successfully. Spells at FC Chiasso and Delhi Dynamos were followed up by an assistant coach gig with Fabio Capello at Jiangsu Suning in China between June 2017 and March 2018.
Outside of football, Zambrotta owns a fitness complex in Como called the Eracle Sports Centre, so he’s probably still as fit as ever.
The best player in the world and captain of the World Cup winners in 2006, it’s fair to say that the year was the best of Fabio Cannavaro’s footballing career.
Like Zambrotta, Cannavaro abandoned ship when Juventus were relegated to Serie B, and like Zambrotta, his powers quickly waned thereafter.
The Italy legend would call time on his career in 2010 after a brief stint at Al-Ahli Dubai, and then become a manager who exclusively manages teams that can pay him a stupendous amount of money.
Guangzhou Evergrande, Al Nassr, Tianjin Quanjin; y
More than the FIFA World Cup winners’ medal. More than the World Cup final goal. More than the historic treble at Inter. More than anything that he’ll ever do from now until the end of time, Marco Materazzi will be remembered for one thing:
Being head-butted so hard by Zidane that his chest nearly fell out of his arse.
Following his recovery from the headbutt heard around the world, Materazzi retired and became the manager of Chennaiyin, who he won the Indian Super League with in 2015.
The surprise package of the 2006 FIFA World Cup showed why his impressive performances were such a surprise after scoring the winning penalty in the final, during his stints at Inter, Lyon (no I don’t remember this either) and Juventus.
After hanging up his boots, Grosso took up a youth coaching role at Juventus, before becoming the head coach at Bari and then Hellas Verona. His time with the latter was pretty disastrous, as he was acrimoniously sacked by the club following a 3-2 defeat to Livorno.
Unlike Cannavaro and Zambrotta, Mauro Camoranesi stood by the Old Lady of Turin in the post-Calciopoli era.
Camoranesi became a Juve legend in this period, racking up nearly 300 appearances at the club.
The World Cup winner would then spend three years at Stuttgart and Lanus respectively, and then did what most ex-pros do post-retirement: he became a pundit.
Gennaro Gattuso is a scary man.
He screams a lot. He shouts a lot. A knife once broke on his bone during an operation because, well, he’s a wee ripper.
So it makes sense that a man this scary would become a manager following his retirement. What also makes sense though is that striking the fear of God into players doesn’t necessarily breed success.
Here’s report card of his managerial career:
FC Sion: D
OFI Crete: F
Pisa: C –
AC Milan: C
Andrea Pirlo was like [insert tedious wine metaphor that you’ve read every single time Pirlo is mentioned in an article].
The Regista was one of the very few players that, after the 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph, just got better and better.
While Cannavaro, Zambrotta et al’s talents waned, Pirlo thrived, enjoying a career renaissance following his free transfer to Juventus in 2011.
In the final few years of his professional career, Pirlo finally came to be recognised as one of the greatest players of his generation, leading Juve to four consecutive Serie A titles and a UEFA Champions League final.
Oh, and he also completely mugged off Joe Hart at Euro 2012. Essentially ended his career.
Following his retirement, Pirlo can be found drinking wine in a vineyard listening to smooth jazz and shooting the breeze about Caravaggio…probably.
Yeah, no one is 100% sure how Simone Perrotta managed to find his way into Italy’s starting XI for a FIFA World Cup final. No one ever will be.
Despite his distinctly average footballing ability, Perrotta – who was born in England (‘OH MY GOD AN ENGLISHMAN WON THE WORLD CUP?! FOOTBALL IS COMING HOME!’…shut up) – is now immortalised by a statue in Tameside.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph was the crowning achievement of Francesco Totti’s career.
And what an astonishing career it was.
AS Roma’s all-time record appearance maker.
AS Roma’s all-time record goalscorer.
Totti gave everything he could to the club he loved, but sadly, judging by his comments after he left his directorial role at the club, the club were unwilling to do the same:
“Did someone stab me in the back at Trigoria? Yes. I will never name names, but there are people in there who don’t want me there. These people are hurting Roma, not doing what is best for the club.”
Coming off the back of a 31-goal Serie A campaign with Fiorentina, Luca Toni’s measly two-goal haul at the World Cup was slightly disappointing; but seeing as he won the whole thing, it’s doubtful that he cares.
Toni would follow up his World Cup win with a billion goals at a myriad of clubs, even winning the Capocannoniere at the age of a billion while at Hellas Verona.
Now armed with a coaching licence following his retirement, Luca Toni will likely be teaching people to score billions of goals in the very near future.
Daniele De Rossi
Like Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi enjoyed an incredible career at AS Roma before it all went tits up this summer.
The former Italian international is now without a club and is said to be considering retirement.
Where is Vincenzo Iaquinta? Has a pretty simple and wildly surprising:
Iaquinta has been sentenced to two years in prison for ‘illegally holding firearms’ for the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in the north of Italy.
He’s set to be played by Al Pacino in an upcoming movie.*
Alessandro Del Piero
Alessandro Del Piero might be the nicest guy in Italian football history.
And he definitely, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, is the greatest footballer in Juventus’ history.
The number ten stayed with Juventus through thick (the million league titles) and thin (Calciopoli) to become the club’s all-time record goalscorer and appearance maker.
Del Piero would round his career off with a few forgettable stints in India and Australia before becoming a pundit.