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BORN OFFSIDE

In defence of Filippo Inzaghi, the most underrated player in football history

Few players in football are as misunderstood as Filippo Inzaghi

On 9 August 1973 Filippo ‘Pippo’ Inzaghi was born in Piacenza, northern Italy.

Rumour has it that he was born offside.

Bothering linesman would be a theme running throughout Inzaghi’s career, to the point that people often overlook just how good Pippo really was.


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Filippo Inzaghi in his early years at Piacenza

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Filippo Inzaghi in his early years at Piacenza

Glowing reviews

Just to prove that I’m not being paranoid, here’s what two of the greatest minds in the football world had to say about Inzaghi.

“Look, actually he can’t play football at all. He’s just always in the right position.”- Johan Cruyff

That lad must have been born offside.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Upon his first international call up in 1997 his new team-mates were reportedly surprised by Inzaghi’s lack of technical ability.

Standing below six foot and probably the lightest player in the squad it’s not hard to picture Roberto Baggio and co asking if he was lost.

Probably the least intimidating striker in world football

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Probably the least intimidating striker in world football

Slow starter

The first four seasons of Inzaghi’s career were spent learning his craft in the lower tiers of Italian football, with Piacenza, AlbinoLeffe and Hella Verona.

Inzaghi scored 15 goals in 37 league games for hometown club Piacenza, convincing Parma to make him a top-flight footballer.

But he looked lost, surrounded by superstars in Hristo Stoichkov, Gianfranco Zola, Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro, and only scored two league goals all season.

But, like all legends, Inzaghi didn’t take no for an answer.

The squad Pippo tried, and failed, to break into

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The squad Pippo tried, and failed, to break into

And… we’re off

In his sixth season of professional football Inzaghi found his home, playing a starring role with Atalanta.

His one and only season with La Dea saw Inzaghi score 24 goals in 33 games, finishing the season as the top goalscorer in Serie A.

Suddenly the eyes of Italy were on the youngster. Juventus won the race for his signature and a star was born.

For five glorious years he partnered Alessandro Del Piero with Zinedine Zidane playing just behind, only failing to score at least 20 goals a season in his last campaign with The Old Lady.

In his time with Juventus he added a Serie A title, Italian Super Cup and Intertoto Cup to his trophy cabinet. Not bad for someone who ‘can’t play football at all’.

Linesman? Offside??

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Linesman? Offside??

Another potent partnership sees records tumble

The emergence of David Trezeguet meant Inzaghi was no longer a prized commodity in Turin, something AC Milan quickly took advantage of in 2001.

A partnership between Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko powered Milan to a further two Serie A titles, two Champions League trophies, two UEFA Super Cups, a FIFA Club World Cup and a Coppa Italia.

His two goals in the 2007 Champions League final against Liverpool put the demons of Istanbul to bed, while two years later he was setting a record for the most hat-tricks in Serie A.

Istanwhat?

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Istanwhat?

At international level he racked up an impressive 25 goals in 57 appearances, 15 of which came as part of doubles of hat-tricks.

No one scored more goals for Italy at Euro 2000 than Inzaghi, who found the back of the net against Turkey and Romania.

But his crowning moment would come six years later, when he was part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning squad, contributing a goal against Czech Republic with a typical poacher’s finish.

Right place, right time

AFP
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Right place, right time

bUt hE oNLy ScORed TaP-InS!

Ahh, ye of little faith.

If we were to tell you Inzaghi scored the best goal every to grace a friendly you’d probably laugh.

Have a watch of this. Pick. That. Out.

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