17 – Marco Tardelli
Doubtlessly among the most beautiful distinguishing features of football as a sport is the Dionysian celebration that follows a goal, when all garments of composure and professionalism are cast off and the player runs like a bird about to take off. It is then only too apt that Tardelli should be remembered above all for his scream of joyous fury after scoring in the 1982 World Cup final against Germany – an image which remains iconic in the popular imagination not of Italian football, but of all Italian sports.
Tardelli was a mediano, a defensive midfielder of exceptional skill, but his potency and work-rate often led him to take part in offensive manoeuvres. In his versatility, he seems a precursor of the contemporary Daniele De Rossi. His career with Juventus is wonderfully solar, covering several years of consecutive trophies and standing as one of the most stable figures on the team. His role in Enzo Bearzot’s Italy was the same, and he remained an Azzurri starter for more than six years. Instrumental in the World Cup victory in 1982 and emblematic as a figure in one of Italy’s greatest clubs, Tardelli is doubtlessly one of the finest midfielders ever produced by the peninsula.
Top 20 Azzurri players of all time