While Italy’s absence from the 2018 World Cup remains a shocking anomaly, the national team has won four World Cups, with two-second place finishes, a third and fourth place. From Gianluigi Buffon to Paolo Maldini, here are some of the most capped players to play for the Azzurri.
Gianluigi Buffon, 176
With 176 appearances, Gianluigi Buffon is Italy’s most capped player of all-time. He recorded a record five clean sheets during Italy’s road to the World Cup trophy in 2006. He’s also only one of four players to have made five World Cup squads. Buffon’s longevity is uncanny — he has over 500 appearances in the Juventus kit as well, in which he helped win the team 9 Serie A titles and 5 Coppa Italia titles.
Fabio Cannavaro, 136
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 cements his legacy in Italian football.
Paolo Maldini, 126
One of the best defenders of all-time, Paolo Maldini made 126 appearances with the national side. And while he’s the third most capped Italian of all-time with over 2,000 minutes played, he never won a World Cup, finishing second in 1994 on a side he captained. With 5 Champions League trophies and 7 league titles in 14 historic years with AC Milan, he’s still considered one of the Italian greats.
Daniel De Rossi, 117
With 117 caps, defensive midfielder Daniel De Rossi is Italy’s fourth most capped player of all-time. He played in three World Cups, most notably the winning side of 2006, and also represented the side in two Euro campaigns and two Confederations Cup tournaments. He is also Italy’s top scoring midfielder post World War II with 21 goals to his name.
Andrea Pirlo, 116
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 2 Champions League, 6 Italian League titles, 2 Italian Cups, and more.
Dino Zoff, 112
The 1982 World Cup victory over West Germany made Dino Zoff the oldest player ever to win the World Cup at 40 years old. Considered one of the best goal-keepers of all time, he also helped Italy win the UEFA European Football Championship in 1968.
Giorgio Chiellini, 99
The Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini helped turn Italy’s side into a fortress. With nearly 100 caps, he helped the side gain a Bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. The Juventus back also played an important role in leading club-side Juventus to seven consecutive Scudetto and four Coppa Italia. He was also a victim of a Luis Suarez bite at the 2014 World Cup.
Gianluca Zambrotta, 98
The pacy left-back played 98 games for Italy, including the team’s 2006 World Cup victory over France. He participated in three World Cups, three European tournaments, and both the Confederations Cup and Summer Olympics.
Giacinto Facchetti, 94
The Italian left-back Giacinto Facchetti played in three World Cups, winning as runner-up in 1970. He also captained the side that won the 1968 European Championship. His performances at club level were equally praiseworthy — he finished his career at Inter Milan with four Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, and a Coppa Italia.
Alessandro Del Piero, 91
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.
Bonucci Leonardo, 83
With 83 caps, Bonucci Leonardo played in two World Cups, two European Championships, and a Confederations Cup. His honors include the bronze medal at the 2013 Confederations Cup and a runner-up in the 2012 European Championship.