Del Piero, a creative genius

Alessandro Del Piero's role was not that of the key striker, but a supportive one. Italian managers utilised this technically gifted and creative genius as a deep-lying forward. A feared dead ball specialist, Del Piero is often considered as one of the greatest players of his generation.

Del Piero's most impressive moment at the World Cup came as part of the Italian triumph in 2006.   -  Kamal Narang

Italian football star Alessandro Del Piero's World Cup record in three consecutive appearances — 1998, 2002 and 2006 — might not be as glittering as peers who were out-and-out strikers, but that was never his primary job.

Gallery of Greats: Sportstar series on World Cup heroes

His role was not that of the key striker, but a supportive one. Italian managers utilised this technically gifted and creative genius as a deep-lying forward. A feared dead ball specialist, Del Piero is often considered as one of the greatest players of his generation.

 

During his long stint with Juventus from 1998 to 2012, he became the second highest goal scorer in Serie A history. He also made it to Pele's FIFA 100 list (which had 125 names!) as one of the greatest players of all time. Pele picked the list as a part of FIFA's centenary celebrations.

Del Piero's most impressive moment at the World Cup came as part of the Italian triumph in 2006.

Coming in as a late substitute against Germany in the semifinal, he made his mark in extra-time. A Del Piero corner made its way to Andrea Pirlo, whose assist to Fabio Grosso in the 119th minute led to one of the goals of the tournament.  Del Piero put the result beyond doubt moments later with a first-time right-footed finish past rival custodian Jens Lehmann.   He was also one of the scorers for Italy in the penalty shootout against France in the final, giving the Azzurri their fourth World Cup title.

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