103 years of Italian soccer
Normally, I’m someone who doesn’t care very much about sports, but put me in front of the TV when the Italian National Soccer Team is playing and you’ll see me laugh, cry and jump off of the sofa! I can’t explain it, but I go nuts. Maybe it’s because, in my opinion, we are the best team in the world.
The Italian National Football (Soccer) team formed in 1910, thanks to the initiative of Luigi Bosisio, president of the Italian Federation of the Game of Soccer. The famous light blue [azzuro] team jersey first appeared in 1911 and led to the nickname, which is still used today, of Azzuri [Light blues] for the National Team.
Ever since the World Cup of Soccer began in 1930 Italy has been the team to beat. We won our first World Cup title against Czechoslovakia in 1934 and our second title in 1938 against France. The start of the Second World War interrupted the World Cup, which wasn’t held again until 1950.
After the long absence of the international competition, Italy returned as a strong team, but had trouble regaining its winning stride. It was only in 1982 under the coaching of Enzo Bearzot and the leadership of the legendary team captain Dino Zoff that Italy beat out West Germany in Spain to win its third World Cup title. One of the most important and exciting moments during that edition of the competition wasn’t the final game; it was the match between Italy and Argentina when Argentian Diego Armando Maradona, an icon and champion of Italian league soccer had to face off against the men who were normally his teammates. It showed how soccer had become more than just a sports game, it had become a matter of honor.
Fast forward to Summer 2006 in Germany. On July 9th Italy won the World Cup again. I think most Italians can remember that day and, of course, the celebrations that took place the day after. Italians aren’t very showy in their patriotism and we don’t normally focus on how similar we are with people from across our country, but swear that on that night we all felt united, no matter what part of the world we were in.
That night all of us were in Germany in spirit, cheering along our Azzurri [Light-blues]. Although the team jersey has changed design and color many times since the National Team was formed in 1910, one thing that will never change is our pride in the Italian team. We’ll be cheering for them at the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and we’ll keep cheering for them even after the lights on the field have dimmed.