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Top Facts about Gaetano Scirea, the Best Italian Sweeper

Thu 25 November 2021 | 7:00

Even in Italy, a country well-known for producing the most complete defenders in the history of world football, Gaetano Scirea is a unique player. In this article we will take a look at top facts about Gaetano Scirea.

Gaetano Scirea was born on 25 May 1953 and passed away on 3 September 1989 in a car accident. He was an Italian professional football player who is regarded as one of the best defenders of all-time.

The

Juventus

defender and Italy libero is one of only five football players who have won every single club title dreamt up by FIFA and UEFA, as well as the FIFA World Cup.

Top Facts about Gaetano Scirea, the Best Italian Sweeper

One of the top facts about Gaetano Scirea is that he is one of the only six football players in European football history to have won all international titles for football clubs recognized by UEFA and FIFA.

Also, Gaetano Scirea is also one of the only nine football players in the history of European football that lifted all three major UEFA football competitions, an achievement he managed while playing for Juventus, the Italian team with which he spent the majority of his professional career, aside from two seasons with Atalanta.

At international level, Gaetano Scirea played for the Italy national team for more than ten years, during which he was a certain member of Italy's defensive line-up, keeping 

Franco Baresi

 out of the Italy national team for four years, until he finally retired in 1986.

Gaetano Scirea became champion of the world in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. They defeated Brazil 3–2 in a conclusive second round match and Germany 3–1 in the final match. He also represented Italy in two more FIFA World Cups, finishing in fourth-place in 1978 World Cup, and UEFA Euro 1980, in which Italy once again managed a fourth-place finish.

Gaetano Scirea was a seven-time Serie A winner, two-time Italian cup champion, a European Cup winner with Juventus in 1984 and much more. He was known for his stylish defending, tactical cleverness and, most of all, his sportsmanship. The Italian player extraordinarily never received a red card in his professional career.

Minus his early years at Atalanta, Gaetano Scirea basically played his whole footballing professional career with Juventus, lasting 14 seasons until his retirement in 1988. He played nearly 400 Serie A games and won a lot of titles during his time.

Gaetano Scirea at a glance

  • Date of birth:

     25 May, 1953

  • Place of birth:

      Cernusco sul Naviglio, Italy

  • Citizenship:

     Italy

  • Date of death:

     3 September, 1989 (At the age of 36)

  • Foot:

     right

  • Position:

     Defender- Sweeper

  • Height:

     1,78 m

  • International team:

     Italy

  • International games/Goals:

     78/2

Gaetano Scirea club career

Gaetano Scirea was born at Cernusco sul Naviglio, in the province of Milan, but in fact he was of Sicilian origin.

Gaetano Scirea made his first Serie A appearance for Atalanta against Cagliari on 24 September 1972. He played for Atalanta for two seasons, before he transferred to Juventus, with whom Scirea would stay until the end of his playing professional career.

One of the

top facts about Gaetano Scirea

is that he spent 14 years with La Vecchia Signora, and during that time he scaled the pinnacle of national and international glory with Juventus, playing alongside the definitely more rugged, but still absolutely brilliant and the hard-hitting Claudio Gentile. He also played alongside

Antonio Cabrini

as well as goalkeeper

Dino Zoff

.

In general, Gaetano Scirea made 397 appearances in Serie A, netting 24 goals. He managed the remarkable achievement of winning every UEFA Club and domestic tournament during his time at the team including seven Serie A trophies, two Coppa Italias, one UEFA Cup, one Cup Winners' Cup, one European Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup.

Finally Gaetano Scirea retired from club football career at the end of the 1987–88 season. He took up the role of scout at Juventus, later working as a coach, which did not last for a long time.

Gaetano Scirea international career

Regarding international career, a top fact about Gaetano Scirea is that he debuted with the Italy national team on 30 December 1975 at the age of 22, in the match against Greece. He instantly became an exceptional pillar of the team managed by Enzo Bearzot, and played in three FIFA World Cups, and one European Championship on home soil in 1980, where Azzurri finished in fourth place after they reached the semi-final of the tournament, and Gaetano Scirea was named part of the team of the tournament.

Gaetano Scirea, alongside club mates Antonio Cabrini and Claudio Gentile, centre back Giuseppe Bergomi and goalkeeper Dino Zoff, made the defensive backbone of possibly the strongest Italian team of the post-war period as the Italy national team dominated international and club football during the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Gaetano Scirea shined in the FIFA 1978 World Cup where Azzurri finished in fourth place.

It was his first International competition with Italy where he managed to play every minute in all seven of their games.

Gaetano Scirea’s next FIFA World Cup, in 1982, is where he perhaps made his most important contribution to the Italy national team. He and other players finished that World Cup undefeated and ended up beating Germany in the final match to win world football’s most significant cup.

At the 1982 FIFA World Cup, after a mediocre start in the first round group stage, Italy beat Argentina 2-1 and then Brazil 3-2 in the second round group. Then Italy overcame Poland 2–0 in the semi-final. Finally, a 3–1 win against West Germany in the final match earned Gaetano Scirea a long-lasting place in FIFA World Cup history.

Gaetano Scirea played the full 90 minutes in all seven games and even contributed an assist in the final match against Germany.

By 1986 FIFA World Cup, nevertheless, the Italy was in transition, and were defeated by France in the second round. This was to be Gaetano Scirea's last international match for Italy.

Gaetano Scirea played in 78 matches for Italy national team which put him among the top 20 most capped Italy football players.

One of the top facts about Gaetano Scirea is that he was also able to captain the Azzurri on the International games, and that is perhaps the main honour one football player could ever obtain. After his retirement, he made way for other Italian greats like

Franco Baresi

and Ciro Ferrara.

Gaetano Scirea style of play

One of the top facts about Gaetano Scirea is that he was a clever and skilful defender that was able to lead his teams from the back. He was also able to captain his beloved team during his professional career. It is considered an honour for any player in the history of Juventus to captain the team.

Typically positioned behind the defence in a sweeper role that has unhappily become non-existent in the modern era, Gaetano Scirea was the ultimate reader of the match.

Franz Beckenbauer

,

Daniel Passarella

and Franco Baresi are the only other central defenders who even come close in terms of prominence.

Elegance, stylishness, serenity, brainpower, pace, the almost Zen-like Juventus man had all of these in spades.

Both on and off the pitch, Gaetano Scirea was a quiet, thoughtful leader who arranged the back line for his team and his national team with a huge, yet almost silent, authority during a record breaking career.

As a defender, Gaetano Scirea always relied on subtleness rather than his strength, but he was similarly skilled at venturing forward and had the passing aptitude and drive of a pure midfielder, as well as an eye for goal that saw him find the back of the net 24 times during his 377-game club career with the Juventus. One of the top facts about Gaetano Scirea is that it is really astonishing to know that in all that time, he never received a red card, not a bad disciplinary record for someone who operated as the centre-back in the team.

After Gaetano Scirea’s retirement from the international level in 1986, France Football magazine called him as "better than Pele, Cruyff and Di Stefano". Gaetano Scirea is still considered as one of the best defenders in the world and one of only five football players in European football history to have won all international titles recognized by UEFA and FIFA.

Moreover, Gaetano Scirea was a modern and very gifted defender, talented with excellent technical skills and tactical aptitude, who was known for his speed, grace on the ball, and innate capacity to read the game. 

In contrast to the brutal tactics often used by other defenders, including his paired partner, Claudio Gentile, Gaetano Scirea was well-known for his class, fair play and sportsmanship. Scirea was also known for his leadership, serving as captain of both Juventus and the Italian national team.

A former midfielder, he played the sweeper, or libero, role for most of his professional career, and contributed to the change of the position, due to his vision, coolness on the ball and passing skill.

Therefore, in addition to helping his team defensively, Gaetano Scirea would separate himself from the defensive line and contribute to the attacking potential of his team, often being involved in the build-up of goals, and sometimes even scoring himself. In the latter part of his career, as he lost his speed, Gaetano Scirea played a more defensive role as a centre-back.

Gaetano Scirea also had leadership abilities to go along with his strong defending aptitudes. Moreover, his cleverness and class not only earned him respect from his teammates and rivals but it also rightfully earned him respect off the pitch.

Gaetano Scirea will always be remembered as a true legend in Italian football history.

Gaetano Scirea personal life

A top fact about Gaetano Scirea is that he was married to Mariella Cavanna. Together they had a son, Riccardo. His wife has become a politician after her husband passed away in a terrible crash in Poland.

Gaetano Scirea tragic death

Juventus captain and role model was unhappily taken from football fans far too early. Gaetano Scirea was involved in a fatal car accident in Poland in 1989 at just 36 years old. His heart-breaking death will always be remembered by Juventini, nevertheless, so will his unbelievable play and leadership during his time there.

The story of his death was that in summer 1989, Gaetano Scirea went to Poland as an observer to watch Górnik Zabrze, against which Juventus was to play in the UEFA Cup. Unfortunately the heavy rain that day caused a crash on the roads that cost Gaetano Scirea's life. On Sunday 3 September 1989 a car which was carrying him collided head-on with a truck near Babsk. The car carried four containers of gasoline in the trunk, which was a normal practice in Poland at that time due to everyday gas shortages. They exploded upon accident, killing Gaetano Scirea along with two fellow passengers.

Gaetano Scirea Legacy

One of the

top facts about Gaetano Scirea

and his legacy is that in 2005, former Italian national team manager Enzo Bearzot suggested the retirement of the jersey number 6 of Italy national team and Juventus in recognition of Gaetano Scirea's career. 

The south stand in Juventus' home ground Juventus Stadium, as well as the south stand in the former Stadio delle Alpi, is known as the Curva Scirea and it is occupied by the Juventus Ultra fans.

Gaetano Scirea award

Because of his own defensive skill and sportsmanship, Gaetano Scirea's name has been involved in different youth competitions and fair-play prizes as a role model for sportsmanship and sporting intelligence, including the Premio Nazionale Carriera Esemplare "Gaetano Scirea" (“Gaetano Scirea” Exemplary Career National Award), which is awarded to a legendary Serie A football players for their career achievements, ability, and personality.

The award is dedicated to those playing football who are over the age of 30 in Italy's Serie A. It was established in 1992 and the prize is awarded each year for their playing skill and sportsmanship by the Unione Stampa Sportiva Italiana (Italian Sports Press Association) or USSI.

All Italian journalists are asked to vote one recipient from a shortlist of selected candidates.

The first winner of the prize was Giuseppe Baresi and in 2020 it was awarded to

Andrea Belotti

, Torino football player.

The only non-Italian footballer who won the award was Javier Adelmar Zanetti, the legendary player of Inter Milan.  Although he was born in Buenos Aires, he was from Italian origins to working-class parents.

Gaetano Scirea wife after his death

In 2019, Mariella Scirea had an interview talking about his husband. Thirty years after her husband's death she said, "I still feel him close to myself. Cesare Romiti told me of his altruism in representing his teammates at Juventus."

She emphasized that the most beautiful sentence was written to him by Marco Tardelli, an inseparable friend, "We could live a life with our wives but your love was unique". 

Thirty years after the tragic death of her husband in a car accident, on September 3, 1989, Mariella Cavanna Scirea remembers the wonderful story with her Gaetano, which is not over yet and is magically renewed every day. 

She talks happily, as if her man was next to her. Today she is 70 years old, his son Riccardo stands out to his father, his youthful spirit unchanged.

In response to the question about how she met her husband, Mariella said, “It was '74, Gaetano just arrived at Juventus. I worked, studied and lived in a place whose owner was a friend of the Juventus youth coach. One evening he invited the team to dinner and he was there too. It was love at first sight for both of us. I still feel the feeling of butterflies in my stomach and dizziness. After a year we got married”

When Mariella was asked about personality of Gaetano Scirea, she said, “I was struck by his gaze full of simplicity and shyness. I am very extroverted and growing up with me, Gaetano improve and opened up a bit. He had great irony and I was supporting him as if we were a couple of comedians. We made fun of each other, always accomplices, very united. He was crazy about the surprises I gave him. For him they were sap. Once, while he was away in Verona, I called him from Desenzano. Love, I'm here with Riccardo. The boy was three and a half years old. I attended the game and went back”.

A song about Gaetano Scirea

One of the

top facts about Gaetano Scirea

is that a song was released for tribute to him. It is called “My name is Gaetano” made by the composer Giuseppe Fulcheri and released on the radio (streaming and digital download platform). Half of the profits will go to the Piedmontese Foundation for Cancer Research and donated to the Candiolo Institute.

Quotes about Gaetano Scirea

Former Juventus CEO and current Inter CEO Beppe Marotta once said: “Scirea was a captain on and off the field, he had all values that served him well to become a leader in the eyes of his teammates. He also transmitted those values to his son, Riccardo.”

The sweeper role was not only an appreciated player and leader on the pitch but also carried his professional approach with him off it, sharing it with many people around him. Inter Milan legend Giuseppe Bergomi, who played against Gaetano Scirea for many years but also lined up alongside him with the Azzurri, described him as: “loyal, intelligent and a man of values. An opponent unlike any other.”

Although they undoubtedly had their clashes against one another in the Derby d’Italia, they also won many fights together side by side when they played for Italy national team.

It is obvious Gaetano Scirea was a role model both on and off the pitch not only to fellow Italians but also to supporters worldwide.

When Fabio Grosso joined Juventus in 2009, he spoke of his honour in being given the number 6 shirt at the team, the number worn by Gaetano Scirea. He said, "To wear the No. 6 of Juventus will be a great honour and a privilege. Carrying the number that represented Scirea, a legend of football and a man who to this day still represents an example for all players, helps make me feel part of a long and glorious history."

Juventus’ young star

Matthijs De Ligt

, who moved to the team from Ajax in 2019, made reference to the Bianconeri legend, claiming that, as a youngster, he fell in love with the way Italian players defended, before going on to name many of his heroes growing up, including the likes of

Paolo Maldini

, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro, and Gaetano Scirea.

Gaetano Scirea honors

Juventus

  • Serie A, 7 times in 1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86

  • Coppa Italia in 1978–79, 1982–83

  • European Cup: in1984–85

  • UEFA Cup: in1976–77

  • UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1983–84

  • UEFA Super Cup in 1984

  • Intercontinental Cup in 1985

Italy

  • FIFA World Cup in 1982

  • FIFA World Cup (Fourth place) in 1978

  • UEFA European Football Championship (Fourth place) in 1980

Individual

  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 1980

  • Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2011

  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time in 2017

 

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