Giorgio Chiellini, the Italian legend who is considered to be one of the versatile defenders, retires after the 3-0 defeat against Argentina in the Finalissima, the battle between the Euro Cup Champions and the Copa America Champions.
It would have been an emotional farewell for the defender if Italy won the trophy. But sometimes, football can be cruel when we need it the most.
Before the match against Argentina, he spoke to the media about how he was feeling about retiring from international football.
He said: “It’s beautiful. ‘When I learned, we will play against Argentina, and I thought it was a present from destiny.”
“The last chance, one final game against Leo Messi, one of the best players in the history of the game. Wembley is a symbolic place where the European and South American champions will meet.”
“Messi is a football icon. It’s not for me to say if he is the greatest of all time or not. It will just be a pleasure to play my last game for the national team against him.
“It has been, without a doubt, better than I could ever have imagined. When you’re a kid, you dream of playing for the national team because that’s the ultimate.
“The thought of being able to play more than 100 games over the course of 18 years, being captain, and lifting an important cup like I did last year at Wembley was the icing on the cake.”
Chiellini, who has already played his last game for Juventus after 17 years at the club, added: “I’m at peace. I feel happy with what I achieved and a little bit of pride for what I achieved in my career.”
Chiellini represented Italy at all youth levels. He won the European Under-19 Championship with Italy in 2003 and was also a member of the Italy team that won the bronze medal at the football tournament of the 2004 Summer Olympics. He participated in the 2006 and 2007 U-21 Championships as Italy’s captain, scoring two goals in both tournaments, although Italy were eliminated in the group stage on both occasions. He was named in the ‘UEFA Team of the tournament’ of the 2007 U-21 Championships held in the Netherlands, where Italy also obtained qualification for the 2008 Summer Olympics. He made 26 appearances for the Under-21 side, scoring six goals.
He made his debut for the Italian national team on 17 November 2004 against Finland under Marcello Lippi at 20. He became a regular squad member in 2007, and he scored his first goal for Italy on 21 November 2007, against the Faroe Islands, in Modena, in a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match.
From there on, he never had to turn back. He was that typical Italian defender and guide who stood like a wall for the Italian team for years.