Earlier this morning, I re-watched a few inspirational videos of Italy's monumental World Cup championship run in 2006. Some of you might not care so much about their triumph, but those moments had great personal significance for me, as I was beginning my own journey in Italy at the time.
I found the Azzurri's run to the top of world football intriguing in that several factors within the squad clicked into place, which allowed the team to persevere through tough times on the home front (Calciopoli Scandals) and win the tournament for a fourth time:
Andrea Pirlo hit form in spectacular fashion. His vision and distribution were fantastic throughout the tournament. If Pirlo had not been in the side, I do not believe Italy would have won the World Cup.
Fabio Grosso reached the peak of his career during the month of the tournament. Relatively unheard of, Grosso made history for his country by scampering down the left flank and scoring some huge goals.
Fabio Cannavaro lead a backline that was as solid as granite. His defense in Germany was flawless. Moreover, through his tough-as-nails actions on the field, he united the team he captained.
Gianluigi Buffon was considered the world's best keeper at the time and lived up to it. His stunning saves throughout the summer backed up the Azzurri's stellar defensive unit. Particularly, his save on Zidane's bullet header in extra-time of the final was monumental.
Francesco Totti overcame a leg-break in just three months to join the squad in Germany. He played an integral role in linking up the attack and assisted on a fair share of goals. His clinically struck penalty deep into injury-time versus Australia is a career highlight for the Roman, as it kept Italy alive in the tournament.
Marco Materazzi is a jerk, but he also peaked in the summer of 2006. His defense was gritty and his towering header in the final was epic.
Gianluca Zambrotta was a catalyst for Italia's attack on the right flank. Some daring runs down the line, mixed with a few cracking goals proved vital to the team's offense.
These factors, along with others, came together and created a winning formula for the Italians. I feel that if either of these players were not in the squad for one reason or another, Italy most likely would not have won their fourth World Cup.
Re-live the joy with me and check out these three videos of Italy's journey in 2006:
Totti's penalty vs. Australia
Grosso & Del Piero's last gasp semifinal goals vs. Germany