Filippo “Pippo” Inzaghi is a retired Italian professional footballer and a manager. Inzaghi played as a striker for several Italian clubs, and spent the most notable spells of his club career with Juventus and Milan, winning two UEFA Champions League titles (2003, 2007), and three Serie A titles (1998, 2004, 2011). He is one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time, and the fifth in Italy, with 313 goals scored in official matches. He is currently the fourth-highest goal scorer in European club competitions with 70 goals, behind only Raúl, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He is also Milan’s top international goal scorer in the club’s history with 43 goals. He also holds the record for most hat-tricks in Serie A with 10. At international level, Inzaghi earned 57 caps for the Italy national team between 1997 and 2007, scoring 25 goals. He represented his country at three FIFA World Cups, winning the 2006 edition, and he also took part at UEFA Euro 2000, where he won a runners-up medal.
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Between 1993 and 1996, Inzaghi made 14 appearances for the Italy under-21 team, scoring three goals; he was also a member of the Italy under-21 squad that won the 1994 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. Inzaghi earned his first senior cap for Italy in the Tournoi de France, against Brazil on 8 June 1997, under his former under-21 manager Cesare Maldini, and provided an assist to goalscorer Alessandro Del Piero. Italy went on to draw 3–3. He scored his first goal for Italy on 18 November 1998, in a 2–2 friendly draw against Spain; he has since scored 25 goals in 57 appearances. He was called up for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup and the 2006 World Cup. Although Inzaghi went scoreless throughout the 1998 World Cup, as he was mainly deployed as a substitute, he came off the bench to set up a goal for Roberto Baggio in Italy’s final group match against Austria, which ended in a 2–1 win, and allowed Italy to top their group; Italy were knocked out in the quarter finals on penalties to hosts and eventual champions France. At Euro 2000, he was one of Italy’s starting strikers under the new Italy manager Dino Zoff. He scored two goals throughout the tournament; his first came from a penalty, in Italy’s 2–1 opening group win over Turkey, in which he was named man of the match, while his second came in a 2–0 win over Romania in the quarter-finals of the competition; he also set up Stefano Fiore’s goal in a 2–0 win over co-hosts Belgium in his nation’s second group match of the tournament. His performances helped Italy reach the final, where they were defeated by France once again, on a golden goal. Along with Francesco Totti, he was Italy’s top-scorer throughout the tournament. Under Zoff’s replacement, Giovanni Trapattoni, Inzaghi was Italy’s top goalscorer during the qualifying rounds of the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, scoring his first and only international hat-trick in a 4–0 home win over Wales on 6 September 2003, although he missed the latter tournament due to injury. He went scoreless throughout the 2002 World Cup, making two appearances, as Italy were controversially eliminated in the round of 16 to co-hosts South Korea, although he had a goal wrongly disallowed in Italy’s final group match against Mexico, which ended in a 1–1 draw. Inzaghi’s persistent knee and ankle injuries put a halt to his international play for almost two years before his resurgence at club level, which resulted in being called up by Italy coach Marcello Lippi for the 2006 World Cup final tournament. Due to the abundance of other top strikers such as Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti and Luca Toni, Inzaghi made his only appearance – subbing on for Alberto Gilardino — in Italy’s final group stage match against the Czech Republic on 22 June 2006, scoring his only goal in the tournament, rounding Petr Čech in a one-on-one encounter to net in Italy’s second goal, which made him the oldest player to have scored for Italy in a World Cup, after Daniele Massaro. Italy went on to win the tournament, defeating France on penalties in the final. Following Italy’s fourth World Cup victory, Inzaghi made six appearances under new manager Roberto Donadoni in Italy’s UEFA Euro 2008 qualification campaign, scoring three goals, two of which came in a 2–1 away win against the Faroe Islands on 2 June 2007. He was not called up for the final tournament, however, where Italy were eliminated by eventual champions Spain in the quarter-finals on penalties, and he made his last appearance for Italy on 8 September 2007, in a 0–0 draw against France in Milan. Inzaghi is currently the sixth-highest goalscorer in the Italian national team’s history, with 25 goals, alongside Adolfo Baloncieri and Alessandro Altobelli.
Fifa World Cup “France 98”
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During the qualifying campaign for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the Azzurri beat England at Wembley Stadium for the second time, with Zola scoring the only goal. In the final tournament, Italy found themselves in another critical shootout for the third World Cup in a row. The Italian side, where Alessandro Del Piero and Baggio renewed the controversial staffetta (“relay”) between Mazzola and Rivera from 1970, held the eventual World Champions and host team France to a 0–0 draw after extra time in the quarter-finals, but lost 4–3 in the shootout. Di Biagio missed the decisive penalty for Italy as it happened to Roberto Baggio in four years before. With two goals scored in this tournament, Baggio is still the only Italian player to have scored in three different FIFA World Cup editions.
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Inzaghi was an intelligent, extremely fast, and opportunistic player, with excellent reactions and a lanky, slender physique; although not very technically gifted, he was known for his great skill in taking advantage of the carelessness of his opponents, his excellent positional sense in the area, and his eye for goal, making a name for himself as a “goal poacher”, due to his style of play and tendency to operate mainly in the penalty box. These qualities, along with his finishing ability with both his head and feet, made him one of the most prolific strikers of the past decades. Inzaghi was described as a player who lived on the offside line. When he was first called up to the national team, the other Italian players were surprised at his lack of technical accomplishment, but came to accept him because he scored so frequently. Johan Cruyff grudgingly described this contrast—”Look, actually he can’t play football at all. He’s just always in the right position.” Fans nicknamed him “Super Pippo,” the Italian name for Walt Disney’s cartoon character Super Goof. Tactically, Inzaghi was noted for his ability to play off the shoulders of the last defender and to time his attacking runs to beat the offside trap, leading long-time Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to quip, “That lad must have been born offside.” Although in the past, due to his poor defensive work-rate, and lack of notable technical skills, strength in the air, or long range striking ability, he was initially accused by some in the sport for being a limited striker or a “lucky” player, and also drew criticism at times for being selfish, for not participating in the build-up of plays, and for going to ground too easily, he has been praised by several of his former managers and teammates for his prolific goalscoring; Inzaghi and others attribute his success, aside from technical prowess, to personal drive, intelligence, and determination. Due to his opportunistic playing style, Inzaghi was frequently compared to Paolo Rossi throughout his career. Despite his prolific goalscoring, Inzaghi was often considered injury prone throughout his career.
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Inzaghi made his Serie A debut when he transferred to Parma in 1995, but scored only twice in 15 league matches. One of these two goals came against one of his former clubs, Piacenza, literally “making him cry”. He added another two goals in European competitions that season. The following season, he moved on to Atalanta, finishing as the Capocannoniere (Serie A’s top scorer) with 24 goals, and scored against every team in the league. He was awarded Serie A Young Footballer of the Year and served as team captain in the last game of the season. Inzaghi, however, was soon on the move once again to his sixth team in seven seasons, this time to Juventus for a reported 23 billion lire. He formed a formidable attacking partnership along with Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane, a tandem which would last for four seasons, under managers Marcello Lippi, and subsequently Carlo Ancelotti, marking Inzaghi’s longest stint with one team at the time. During his time with the Bianconeri, he scored two Champions League hat-tricks – against Dynamo Kyiv and Hamburger SV – becoming the first player to do so. During his first season with the club, Inzaghi scored two goals as Juventus beat Vicenza 3–0 in the 1997 Supercoppa Italiana. Juventus won the Scudetto during the 1997–98 season, in which Inzaghi scored 18 goals, including a decisive, Scudetto-winning hat-trick against Bologna. He also scored six goals to help Juventus reach the Champions League final, although they were defeated 1–0 by Real Madrid. The 1998–99 season was less successful for Juventus, as they suffered a defeat in the 1998 Supercoppa Italiana to Lazio, and finished the season with a disappointing seventh place in Serie A. Inzaghi still managed 20 goals in all competitions, finishing the season as the club’s top-scorer; Six of his goals came in the Champions League, as Juventus were eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual champions Manchester United. During the second leg of the semi-finals in Turin, Inzaghi scored two goals in the first ten minutes, but Manchester United eventually managed to come back and win the match 3–2. Inzaghi helped Juventus win the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup, scoring five goals in the semi-finals against Rostov, and two in the finals against Rennes, qualifying Juventus for the UEFA Cup that season. Inzaghi scored 15 goals in Serie A as Juventus narrowly missed out on the title to Lazio, suffering a defeat on the final matchday. The following season, Inzaghi managed 11 goals in Serie A as Juventus finished second in the league for the second consecutive season; he also scored five goals in the UEFA Champions League, including a hat-trick in a 4–4 draw against Hamburger SV, although Juventus were eliminated in the first round. With 16 goals in all competitions, he was Juventus’s top goalscorer for the third consecutive season. However, his once excellent partnership with Del Piero had become less effective in recent seasons, due to their lack of understanding, individualism, and their strained relationship both on and off the pitch.
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When he was first called up to the national team, the other Italian players were surprised at his lack of technical accomplishment, but came to accept him because he scored so frequently. Johan Cruyff grudgingly described this contrast—”Look, actually he can’t play football at all. He’s just always in the right position.” Fans nicknamed him “Super Pippo,” the Italian name for Walt Disney’s cartoon character Super Goof. Tactically, Inzaghi was noted for his ability to play off the shoulders of the last defender and to time his attacking runs to beat the offside trap, leading long-time Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to quip, “That lad must have been born offside.”
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With 70 goals, Inzaghi in 2017 was still the fourth-highest scorer in European club competitions, behind only Raúl, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. He became the first player to score two Champions League hat-tricks – both with Juventus — when he netted a treble during a 4–4 group stage draw with Hamburger SV on 13 September 2000; his first was in a 4–1 victory over Dynamo Kyiv during the 1997–98 quarter–finals. Inzaghi scored a record third Champions League hat-trick in a 4–0 win against Deportivo de La Coruña in the 2002–03 season, while playing for Milan. This record would later be tied by Michael Owen, who has scored two hat-tricks for Liverpool and a third for Manchester United.