Fabio Cannavaro, the captain of the Azzurri’s 2006 World Cup winning team in Berlin, turns 44 today.
Cannavaro was born in Naples on 13th September 1973. He spent his youth at the Napoli academy and made his Serie A debut with the club on 7th March 1993 as Juventus beat Napoli 4-3. Well known as a quick and consistent defender, he played for six clubs throughout his career.
He had a long, successful spell at Parma between 1995 and 2002, as he formed a formidable centre-back pairing with French international Thuram. With Parma, Cannavaro won a UEFA Cup, 2 Coppa Italia title and a Supercoppa Italiana.
Cannavaro then moved to Inter and played there for two seasons before signing for Juventus. After two years in Turin, Cannavaro moved to Real Madrid. He arrived in Spain in 2006 as a World Cup winner. During that season, he also received the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player award. In Spain, Cannavaro won two La Liga titles and a Spanish Super Cup.
He then made his comeback for Juventus in 2009/2010, before finishing his career with Al-Ahly (United Arab Emirates). After his retirement, Cannavaro began his coaching career at Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande as Marcello Lippi’s successor. He stayed at the club from November 2014 until the end of June 2015. He currently coaches Tianjin Quanjian and even gained promotion to the first tier during his first season with the club.
Cannavaro represented Italy in Cesare Maldini’s Under-21 National team and won two consecutive European Championships in 1994 and 1996. He then made his debut for the senior team in Palermo in a friendly against Northern Ireland on 22nd January 1997. He wore the Azzurri shirt for 13 years, making a total of 136 appearances. He currently ranks second for most appearances behind Buffon. Cannavaro scored two goals during his 136 caps, both of them in friendlies: Tunisia 0-4 Italy (30th May 2004) and Italy 3-1 Portugal (6 February 2008).
The image of Cannavaro lifting the World Cup at Berlin’s Olympiastadion after the successful shootout against France in the 2006 World Cup final will remain in the memory of every Azzurri fan forever. This was surely the peak of a career in which Cannavaro took part in four World Cups, two European Championships and a Confederations Cup.
He is currently part of the newly founded Azzurri Stars team formed of former Azzurri players and other stars of Italian football who had their first match in Brazzaville, Congo, against a local representative side on 2nd September 2015.