Fabio Grosso: ITALY vs. Germany (FIFA World Cup 2006)
Italy went into the 2006 FIFA World Cup under a cloud, with the Calciopoli scandal which saw Juventus relegated to Serie B and stripped of two league titles coming to light just months before the tournament in Germany was due to take place. Their opponents for the semi-final in Dortmund were the hosts, whose stock had risen throughout the tournament as more supporters believed that Jürgen Klinsmann’s side were on the verge of becoming the seventh squad to win the World Cup in their own country.
The match itself was an end to end affair, ninety minutes of high adrenaline football as two powerhouses of world and European football looked to reach the World Cup final to face either France or Portugal. Although both sides created good opportunities, the game remained goalless and head into extra time where the teams still couldn’t be separated and the match looked to be heading to a penalty shoot-out.
Perhaps wary of the Germans’ excellent record from twelve yards the Italians continued to push to the very end of the extra period, and won a corner following Andrea Pirlo’s shot from distance. The corner, taken by Alessandro Del Piero, was cleared by Arne Friedrich only to land at the feet of Pirlo, who then did what the midfielder does and slotted the ball perfectly through the German defence without even looking and onto the left foot of full back Fabio Grosso.
Grosso, wearing the Azzurri’s number 3 shirt made famous by the legendary Paolo Maldini, hit the ball first time with the inside of his left foot and watched on as it curled perfectly around Michael Ballack and Philipp Lahm and into the far corner of the goal, out of the reach of Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. As soon as the ball hit the net the Palermo defender was off, his celebration reminiscent of fellow countryman Marco Tardelli’s, after scoring in the 1982 World Cup final.
The Italians would go on to win their first World Cup since Tardelli, along with Paolo Rossi and Alessandro Altobelli, found the net in Madrid, defeating France in the final after a penalty shoot-out.
And the scorer of the winning penalty that night in Berlin? One Fabio Grosso.