I believe that everyone here in Italy knows football, the most followed and practiced sport in the world. The reason for its fame is perhaps given by its simplicity: to play a ball and anything that looks like a goal is enough.
Playing football as kids, each of us was at least once the protagonist of matches that in our eyes were worth more than a Champions League final: a penalty saved, the decisive goal scored at the last moment or the winning assist made us dream. a future as a professional. Here, in fact, are the professionals. Footballers, the real ones, are not handymen like us when we meet at the pitch with friends, but everyone has their own role and has tasks to perform.
THE GOOD FOOTBALLERS IN FRONT OF BOTH DOORS
Or at least, so it should be in theory. Because there are players who do not care about their position and, regardless of the fact that being defenders their goal is to defend their goal, they often steal the job from the attackers by scoring avalanches of goals. So today I’m going to tell you about five defenders from the 1960s to the present day who have proven they can handle both goals.
75 goals in 634 appearances, always with Inter
Giacinto Facchetti is the defender who tied his entire career to the Inter shirt, starting a new type of player: the attacking full-back. Despite his beginnings in the Trevigliese as a striker, the Nerazzurri coach Herrera decided to move him back in defense, but he did not manage to make him lose his scoring streak.
Giacinto in fact boasts 75 goals scored in 634 appearances, the first defender to reach 10 goals in a single season, which made him one of the fundamental players of the so-called “Great Inter” capable of winning two European Cups consecutively in the 1963- seasons. 1964 and 1964-1965.
Even in the national team, Facchetti showed all his qualities: 94 games played with the Azzurri shirt and 3 goals, winning, as captain, the 1968 European Championship.
The “Cape” was a flag of our football, as well as a model to follow for all those full-backs that nowadays we see pushing on the flanks, dedicating themselves in particular to the attacking phase (with the small difference that at the time of Facchetti a full-back like that was almost unthinkable, while nowadays it’s the norm).
Two Golden Balls and many titles with Bayern Munich and the German national team
Beckenbauer, nicknamed “the Kaiser”, was one of the strongest and most representative footballers in the history of German football. Born in 1945, he played throughout his career in the now-defunct freeride role, making the fortunes of Bayern Munich, the team with which he became a true legend. Crucial both in defense and in attack, he scored more than 60 goals for the Bavarians, over the course of 17 seasons in which he won practically everything: five German championships, four German Cups, and three European Cups, as well as an Intercontinental Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
As evidence of how dominant he was, he has been awarded the prestigious Ballon d’Or twice, the only defender to date in being able to obtain the most important individual award in the world of football more than once.
Of course, it was also a flag of the German national team, which at the time was still divided into East and West Germany. It was with the latter’s shirt that the Kaiser won the World Championship (plus a title as a coach) and the European Championship, scoring a total of 14 goals in 103 appearances.
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Playing in a free position, he did not have a fixed defensive marking, and therefore he was often decisive in doubling or in covering the teammates who had been skipped by the direct opponent. This also allowed him a high unpredictability in attack, as he was free to go up to support the offensive phase when he saw fit. His good speed of him favored him in catching the opposing defenses off guard with insertions in the penalty area, often being face to face with the goalkeeper.
More prolific than a center forward
Ladies and gentlemen, what about? Here we are in the presence of a sacred monster of this game. Ronald Koeman was born in the Netherlands in 1963 and comes from a family of footballers: both his father and his older brother (and his grandson later as well) pursue football careers.
Over the span of 17 seasons, from the beginning of the Eighties until 1997, he will score 253 goals with the best Eredivise teams such as Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord, as well as 6 seasons with the Barcelona shirt. With the Blaugrana, among other things, he will win the first Champions Cup for the team of Messi and associates in ’92, beating our Sampdoria 1-0 in the final with his own free-kick goal.
THE RECORDS AND THE CAREER AS A COACH
Throughout his professional career, Koeman has scored more than many center-forwards, even important ones, in football history, and beating his record for a defender still remains on the edge of the impossible.
After retiring, he decided to pursue a career as a manager, with really good results: in addition to becoming the second Dutchman to win the Eredivise both as a footballer and as a coach, his Palmares include a Portuguese Super Cup with Benfica and a King’s Cup with Valencia. Since last season he has been coaching the Southampton of our Graziano Pellè.
The incredible free kick to France
Robert Carlos, born in 1973, is one of the most famous Brazilian footballers of all time. Full-back like our aforementioned Facchetti, he made history with his forays on the wing and his intoxicating dribbling. After his career starts at home with Palmeiras, he will land in Europe at Massimo Moratti’s Inter court in the 1995-1996 season. However, he will only stay one year in Italy due to friction with the then Nerazzurri coach Roy Hodgson, being sold to Real Madrid.
With the Blancos shirt, Carlos will live 11 years full of personal and team successes. Thanks also to his 69 goals, he will win all kinds of national and European competitions: from the four La Liga titles to the three Spanish Super Cups, to the three Champions League successes. In 2007 he leaves Spain to join Fenerbahçe, with whom he will win two Turkish Super Cups and then, after returning home to Corinthians, will announce his retirement from football at the age of 39, after playing a season with the Russian team. of Anzhi.
THE “THREE FINGER” SHOT
Roberto Carlos’ secret weapon is his free kicks. Over the years, in fact, he has established himself more and more as a real specialist in set-pieces, thanks also to the particular technique of the “three-finger” shot, with which, combined with extraordinary power, he scored more and more times spectacular goals.
His masterpiece is undoubtedly the goal scored with the Brazilian national team against France in a summer-friendly: sidereal distance, run-up taken from midfield, and a trajectory that not even the best physics experts would be able to explain. A network that made history.
The headshots that made us win the World Cup
To conclude these five we find Marco Materazzi, former defender of Inter and our national team. Marco was born in Lecce in 1973 and, like Koeman, he too is a son of art, since his father Giuseppe was a footballer of the team in Marco’s hometown at the time. He starts playing football in the Lazio youth teams and will later tour for various teams of the Italian minor leagues (plus an interlude in 1998 in England with Everton).
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The year of his consecration, both as a defender and as a loose cannon in attack is 2000: returning to Perugia for the second time, Marco scores 12 league goals. The excellent year of Lecce is noticed by the Nerazzurri managers and he will move to Inter the following summer. He lives his golden years in Milan, with 15 trophies won in 10 years, also participating in the treble (Inter in the 2009-2010 season won both the championship and the national cup, as well as the Champions League). After some differences with coach Leonardo, he will terminate his contract, declaring his retirement from football. However, last year he signed a manager-player contract with the newly formed Indian side Chennaiyin.
Materazzi has become the symbol of the tall and rough central defender, specializing in the header. In fact, of the more than 50 goals scored in his career, most of him derive from set-pieces, given that his height and strength, together with his skill in the aerial game, made him very dangerous. Even the two goals scored with the national team at the 2006 World Cup are headers, essential for the victory of the world championship (in particular the one against France in the final, which allowed us to draw on 1-1 after Materazzi himself had caused the rigor of the temporary French advantage). He also proved to be good with his feet: he was both a good penalty taker and a decent free-kick player.
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