15 – Bruno Conti
‘The real Brazilian on that pitch,’ they later said, ‘was playing in a blue shirt.’ Several names deserve tribute for their performances in the 1982 World Cup. Bruno Conti is worthy of mention if not as the most iconic, then surely as the most technically gifted. A prince among wingers, Conti possessed dribbling skills well beyond their age and which included moves (his back-heel flip, for instance) which remain as spectacular today as they were back then. Among the notable articles of his technical heritage, Conti brought qualities to the role which had previously been the prerogative of fantasisti like Gianni Rivera, from an offensive incipit of uncommon depth to characteristic holding skills and sense of positioning.
Conti spent almost the entirety of his career with Roma, where he remains one of the most incisive emblems of his age alongside Paulo Roberto Falcao and Roberto Pruzzo. His performances (alongside those of others, of course) were fundamental to conquering the Scudetto in 1983 and Roma’s only Champions League final to date in 1984 (lost to Liverpool on penalties). That being said, his most enduring legacy remains the 1982 World Cup, in which Conti stood as one of the finest performers and indisputably the producer of the most beautiful football in the Italian squad. Brazil’s defenders were torn to pieces by his runs, stops and feints and his game was cardinal to both the second and third goal in the final against Germany. More blessed with the skills of a creative forward than those of a traditional lateral player, it is difficult to find Italian wings before him flying higher than he did. Until some fantasista is exiled to playing on the flanks, it is unlikely we will find one after him either.
Top 20 Azzurri players of all time