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Looking at the top Serie A clubs’ best players 20 years ago is nostalgic football porn

In the late Nineties Italian football was awash with brilliant footballers

You might remember this format from a previous article.

Take a team, work back a decade or two and proceed from there. Having applied the logic to the Premier League we decided it was time to take a trip back in time to Italy.

Let’s head back to the 1998/99 season, when the cream of world football’s crop could be found tearing it up in Serie A.


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A load of Serie A players line up with Ronaldo

AP:Associated Press
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A load of Serie A players line up with Ronaldo

Juventus: Zinedine Zidane

Zidane spent the summer of ’98 guiding France to a World Cup victory over Brazil before returning to Turin and linking up with a ludicrously talented Juventus squad.

Alessandro Del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi, Didier Deschamps and Edgar Davids were all at the club while Thierry Henry joined from Monaco in January.

It was a case of too many chefs though as Marcello Lippi and then Carlo Ancelotti were only able to guide Juventus to 7th in the league.

You’ve been Keane’d

EPA
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You’ve been Keane’d

Inter Milan: Ronaldo

There wasn’t a Serie A defender in the late Nineties who’d avoided being made look a fool by an R9 flip-flap or stepover.

The Brazilian joined Roberto Baggio and Ivan Zamorano in a dangerous looking Inter attack, boosted by the creative presence of Youri Djorkaeff in midfield.

Like Juventus, Inter thoroughly underwhelmed.

Four managers, including Roy Hodgson, oversaw a season in which Inter finished 8th, while an injury to Ronaldo meant he played just seven games across the next two seasons.

Good luck getting that ball back

AP:Associated Press
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Good luck getting that ball back

AC Milan: Paolo Maldini

This can’t all be about the attackers, although Milan’s trifecta of Oliver Bierhoff, George Weah and Zvonimir Boban had defenders pulling up with suspiciously timed ‘hamstring injuries’.

Maldini was the rock upon which Milan’s Serie A title winning campaign was carved.

His telepathic partnership with Alessandro Costacurta was rumoured to be the inspiration behind Uri Geller’s foray into the physic world.

A walking Calvin Klein advert

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A walking Calvin Klein advert

Fiorentina: Gabriel Batistuta

Purple, collar, Fila and Nintendo. Fiorentina’s kit for the 1998/99 season is one of Italian football’s most iconic images.

There was substance to the beauty, especially when Batistuta scored 21 goals in 28 Serie A appearances.

He was ably assisted by strike partner Edmundo, who would go on to destroy Man United in 2000, and maverick no.10 Rui Costa.

Renaissance paintings don’t get much better

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Renaissance paintings don’t get much better

Roma: Francesco Totti

Totti and Roma. Roma and Totti. Some things are just meant to be.

In 1998 Totti spearheaded a side with Cafu on the flanks and Marco Delvecchio up top.

The combination helped Roma to finish fifth in Serie A, with Totti scoring 12 times and Delvecchio finding the back of the net on 18 occasions.

Another one bites the dust

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Another one bites the dust

Parma: Lilian Thuram

Parma were still in the money in 1998, boasting a squad containing Gigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo, Faustino Asprilla, Juan Sebastian Veron and Fabio Cannavaro.

But the underrated star of the show was Thuram, who’d scored the only two goals of his 142-cap international career in a World Cup semi-final to help France beat Croatia.

Thuram followed up his World Cup win by lifting the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia. The mere mention of his name makes us feel safe.

A very safe place to be

AP:Associated Press
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A very safe place to be

Lazio: Christian Vieri

Lazio broke the world transfer record to sign Vieri in 1998, partnering him with Chilean hitman Marcelo Salas.

That potent combination, in addition to Roberto Mancini, Atillio Lombardo, Dejan Stankovic and Pavel Nedved, made Lazio a joy to watch.

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side were pipped to the Serie A title by Milan but did have an Italian Super Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to show for their efforts.

Bring your son to work day

AP:Associated Press
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Bring your son to work day

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