What’s a footballer to do after hanging up his boots? For the 2006 Italian World Cup Champions, the gigs vary from management, coaching, and in some rare cases, still playing. Let’s take a look at where Italy’s World Cup winners stand today.
Perhaps no one embodies the spirit of football more than Gianluigi Buffon, who made over 500 appearances for Juventus. So it was shocking that after 17 seasons in Turin he hung up his boots for both club and the national team. But his retirement was brief. Paris Saint Germain reached out to the goalie in the summer of 2018 to reel him back in. After leaving Paris after just one season, the legend signed a one year contract in a shock return to Turin. He’s since made his 647th overall Serie A appearance, tying Paolo Maldini, and is looking to finish his career with the elusive Champions League trophy.
Francesco Totti was 30 years old when he won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. The average player may have been retired by then, but the Golden Boy of Roma was just getting started. Totti officially retired after the 2016/17 season after an unbelievable 25 years, 786 games, and 250 goals with Roma. It may come as no surprise that Totti is already back with Roma, this time serving as club director. He was always a one-club man.
Known for his creative vision and playmaking abilities, Andrea Pirlo helped Italy achieve its 4th World Cup in 2006. Over 13 years with the national side, the midfield maestro earned 116 caps and scored 13 goals. His tenure at Inter, Milan, and Juventus amounted to two Champions League, six Italian League titles, two Italian Cups, and more. In 2015, he left Serie A to play for New York City FC where he retired in 2017. Whether it’s in management or tending to his vineyard, it’s yet to be determined what Pirlo does next!
The pacy left-back Gianluca Zambrotta was one of the masterminds behind Italy’s World Cup victory. He also played 217 games for Juventus, winning two Serie A titles before joining Barcelona after the Calciopoli scandal. He returned to the Serie A to play for AC Milan in 2008. Since his official retirement in 2014, Zambrotta has gone from a player-manager role at Swiss club Chiasso to coaching positions in both the Indian and Chinese football leagues. He also became the owner of a gym in his hometown of Como, Italy.
Although the clinical defenseman Fabio Cannavaro never won a Serie A title, he played an important role in Italy’s five clean sheets on the way to a 2006 World Cup and subsequent Ballon d’Or. With 136 caps and 4 World Cups over 13 years with the Azzurri, Cannavaro cemented his legacy in Italian football. Ever since his retirement in 2014, he’s gone on to coach in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and China where he currently coaches Guangzhou Evergrande.
The left-back Fabio Grosso played alongside Zambrotta in Italy’s fortress of a defense in the 2006 World Cup run. After stints with Internazionale, Lyon, and Juventus where he retired in 2012, Grosso took charge of the Juventus youth system. In 2017, he took the coaching job at Bari before most recently picking up coaching duties for Seria B side Hellas Verona.
The defensive midfielder played an instrumental role in Italy’s road to the World Cup in 2006. After playing for AC Milan for more than a decade, he switched to Swiss football club Sion where he eventually became player-manager in 2013. He’s since coached Palermo, OFI Crete, and Pisa whom he led to Serie B promotion. He’s since risen the rank back at AC Milan, starting in its youth system to becoming the head coach of the first team in 2017.
The tall Italian striker was a menace up top for the national side as well as his club team Bayern Munich. After retiring in 2016 at Italian club Verona, he temporarily played sporting director at the club before moving on to find a new management position.
Alessandro Del Piero
The attacker played up front for Juventus for 19 seasons, even sticking with the team through the forced relegation of the Calciopoli scandal. He earned 91 caps and 27 goals with the Italian side, none more precious than his third and final World Cup in 2006 which the Azzurri won. He’s dabbled in various media initiatives since his retirement from football in 2014, including a pundit a spokesperson for the video game Pro Evolution Soccer.
Center back Marco Materazzi will go down in World Cup folklore as the recipient of an epic Zinedine Zidane headbutt in the 2006 final. Materazzi played another five years for Inter Milan post World Cup before venturing to India to act as player-manager for Chennaiyin in the India Super League.
Daniele De Rossi
The youngest player on the Italy 2006 roster at the age of 22, Daniele De Rossi is now 36 years old and officially retired. A one-club man like Totti (minus the one season for Boca Juniors in Argentina), the defensive midfielder made nearly 600 appearances with the Roma side, winning the Coppa Italia twice and Supercoppa Italiana once. He’s now attending AS Roma matches as a fan, in disguise.