FIFA World Cup hall of fame: Dino Zoff, tower of longevity Italy leaned on

Dino Zoff experienced almost everything a footballer can think of, including holding aloft the most coveted trophy as Italy captain in 1982.

Published: 03rd June 2018 01:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2018 12:30 PM   |  A+A-

Dino Zoff

Express News Service

Glory Lasts Just a Moment. As a way of looking at life, this school of thought has characterised a stream of consciousness, over centuries. Broadly, propagators of this theory believe fulfilment should not be restricted to materialistic desires; in pursuance of the intangible that causes happiness lies the meaning of existence.

If there is something most far removed from the philosophy of sports, this must be it. Sports trains every novice to aim for the top. It injects in them the spirit to strive for the best. This is a world where glory matters most. That’s what they play and work for. So when the moment comes, it is to be embraced, celebrated and framed. Careers often experience a galvanizing effect after reaching the pinnacle.

How very ironical it is that ‘Glory Lasts Just a Moment’ is the autobiography of a sportsman, who is also one of the most successful in his chosen field. And when a World Cup and European Championship winning goalkeeper says that, you listen. In a marathon career from 1961 to 1983, Dino Zoff experienced almost everything a footballer can think of, including holding aloft the most coveted trophy as Italy captain in 1982.

One of the notable flag-bearers of the dynasty of great Italian goalkeepers, Zoff's principle of caution at the cost of flamboyance helped him survive at the top for so long. Eschewing impulse for prudence, he was the embodiment of the discipline that for years formed the bedrock of an illustrious and globally respected school of football. Other than being a regular for the Azzurri from 1972, he was also a star of the Juventus team that won six Serie A titles along with an UEFA Cup. His records for not conceding for most number of minutes at the European Championship and Serie A stood for over 20 years.

Zoff's biggest moment came in Spain, towards the end of his career. His battle-hardened yet not so highly-rated team emerged favourites after winning an epic quarterfinal against Brazil, arguably the best team to have not won the World Cup. Riding that momentum and Paolo Rossi's scoring spree, Italy cruised past Poland and West Germany, as Zoff at 40 years and four months, became the oldest to win the World Cup.

The man born in a farming family, who had studied to be a mechanic earlier in life, returned as coach almost immediately after hanging his boots. His club coaching career was moderately successful, but he came within minutes of winning the 2000 European Championship, which Italy lost to France despite leading till the dying moments of the final.

Surprisingly, Zoff as coach preferred a more attacking variation of the traditional Italian style based on defence. Detached from mainstream football of late, he made headlines recently by saying that without Italy, "It wouldn't feel like the World Cup." Ironical again, that unlike glory, disappointment lasts longer.

India Matters


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