Dino Zoff is a former Italian professional football goalkeeper and is the oldest winner ever of the World Cup, which he earned as captain of the Italian national team in the 1982 tournament in Spain, at the age of 40 years, 4 months and 13 days, also winning the award for best goalkeeper of the tournament, and being elected to the team of the tournament, for his performances, keeping two clean-sheets, an honour he also received after winning the 1968 European Championship on home soil; he is the only Italian player to have won both the World Cup and the European Championship. Zoff also achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia titles, and an UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions’ Cup finals in the 1972–73 and 1982–83 seasons, as well as finishing second in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup final. Zoff was a goalkeeper of outstanding ability, and he has a place in the history of the sport among the very best in this role, being named the 3rd greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks. He holds the record for the longest playing time without allowing goals in international tournaments (1142 minutes) set between 1972 and 1974. With 112 caps, he is the sixth most capped player for the Azzurri. In 2004 Pelé named him as one of the 125 greatest living footballers. In the same year, Zoff placed fifth in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and was elected as Italy’s golden player of the past 50 years. He also placed second in the 1973 Ballon d’or, as he narrowly missed out on a treble with Juventus. In 1999, Zoff placed 47th in World Soccer Magazine’s 100 Greatest Players of the Twentieth Century. After retiring as a footballer, Zoff went on pursue a managerial career, coaching the Italian national team, with which he reached the Euro 2000 Final, and several other Italian clubs, including his former club Juventus, with which he won an UEFA Cup and a Coppa Italia double during the 1989–90 season, trophies he had also won as a player. In September 2014, Zoff published his Italian autobiography Dura Solo un Attimo la Gloria (“Glory only Lasts a Moment”).
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Prior to representing the senior Italian side, Zoff had won a gold medal with the Italy under-23 side at the 1963 Mediterranean Games. On 20 April 1968, Zoff made his senior debut for Italy, playing in a 2–0 win against Bulgaria in the quarter finals of the 1968 European Championships, in Naples. Zoff ended up being promoted to starting goalkeeper over his career rival Enrico Albertosi during the tournament, and Italy proceeded to win the European Championship on home soil, with Zoff taking home a winners’ medal after only his fourth international appearance, keeping two clean sheets, and winning the award for the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Zoff was left out of the Italian starting eleven in the 1970 World Cup, however, and was Albertosi’s deputy throughout the tournament, as Italy went on to reach the final of the World Cup, and was defeated 4–1 by Brazil. He returned to the starting line-up, however, ahead of Albertosi, in Italy’s disappointing 1974 World Cup campaign, during which they would be eliminated in the first round. From 1972 onwards, Zoff became Italy’s undisputed number 1, and he participated in the 1978 World Cup with Italy, during which he managed a fourth-place finish, keeping 3 clean-sheets. Italy were eliminated in the semi-final, in a 2–1 loss to the Netherlands. After the match, Zoff was criticised for making a fairly uncommon error, as he was beaten by a strike from distance by Arie Haan. Zoff was also Italy’s starting goalkeeper once again at the 1980 European Championships on home soil, however, helping his side to reach the semi-finals, finishing the tournament in fourth place once again. During the 1980 European Championship, Zoff kept three clean sheets, only conceding one goal in the bronze medal match, which Italy would lose on penalties; Zoff was elected as the goalkeeper of the tournament once again, an honour he had previously managed after winning the tournament in 1968. Throughout these two tournaments, Zoff established a record for most consecutive minutes unbeaten in a European Championship, which was later beaten by Iker Casillas in 2012. Zoff had also established the record for most minutes unbeaten European Championship qualifying, which was also beaten, by compatriot Buffon in 2011. He still holds the record, however, for most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal at the European Championships including qualifying, having kept eight consecutive cleans heets between 1975 and 1980, while going unbeaten for 784 minutes. Alongside Casillas, Buffon, and Thomas Myhre, he is the goalkeeper with the fewest goals conceded in a single edition of the European Championships, having conceded only one goal in the 1968 European Championships; of these players, only Zoff and Casillas won the title while achieving this feat. Zoff’s greatest accomplishment, however, came in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where he captained Italy to victory in the tournament at the age of 40, making him the oldest ever winner of the World Cup; throughout the tournament, he kept two clean sheets, and produced a crucial goal-line save in the final minutes of the last second-round group match against favourites Brazil on 5 July, which enabled the Italians to earn a 3–2 victory and advance to the semi-finals of the competition. On 11 July, at the age of 40 years and 133 days, he became the oldest player ever to feature in a World Cup final; following Italy’s 3–1 victory over West Germany at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid, he followed in the footsteps of compatriot Gianpiero Combi (1934) as only the second goalkeeper to captain a World Cup-winning side (later Iker Casillas repeated this feat for Spain in the 2010 World Cup). Due to his performances, he was voted as the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament. Zoff also holds the record for the longest stretch (1142 minutes) without allowing any goals in international football, set between 1972 and 1974. That clean sheet stretch was ended by Haitian player Manno Sanon’s beautiful goal during the 1974 World Cup. Zoff made his final appearance for Italy on 29 May 1983, in a 2–0 away loss to Sweden, in an Euro 1984 qualifying match. At the time of his retirement, Zoff’s 112 caps were the most ever by a member of the Italian national team. He currently sits in sixth place in this category, as well as second among goalkeepers, with Gianluigi Buffon having surpassed the latter record.
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One of the most popular pictures of World Cup history is definitely the picture with Dino Zoff, Franco Causio, Enzo Bearzot (Italy team coach during the World Cup 82) and Sandro Pertini (former Italian President back to 1982) playing cards on their way back to Italy after the World Cup 1982 triumph. While they were playing “scopone” (a typical Italian card’s game) they stand the World Cup right to the table where they are playing. This picture is an authentic piece of history of Italian football.
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Zoff was a traditional, effective, and experienced goalkeeper, who usually favoured efficiency and caution over flamboyance when making saves, although he was also capable of producing spectacular dives and decisive saves when necessary due to his athleticism. He was particularly regarded for his outstanding positioning and handling of the ball, in particular when coming out to collect crosses, as well as his concentration, consistency, calm mindset, and composure under pressure; he also possessed good reactions and excellent shot-stopping abilities. Zoff was also noted for his attention to detail during matches, as well as his ability to read the game, anticipate his opponents, communicate with his defenders, and organise his back-line, which also enabled him to start attacking plays quickly from the back after claiming the ball. Despite his serious and reserved character, Zoff also drew praise for his leadership skills, correct behaviour, and competitive spirit, which led him to serve as captain of his national side. Known for his work-rate in training, dedication, and discipline as a footballer, Zoff also stood out for his stamina, longevity, and determination, which enabled him to avoid injuries and have an extensive and highly successful career; due to his constant desire to improve himself, he was able to maintain a consistent level of performance throughout his entire career, even with age towards the end of his career, into his late 30s and early 40s. Considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, in 1999 he was elected in a poll by the IFFHS as the third best goalkeeper of the 20th Century – after Lev Yashin (1st) and Gordon Banks (2nd) – as well as Italy’s best keeper of the century, and the second best European keeper of the century – behind only Yashin.
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Upon retirement, Zoff held the records for the oldest Serie A player, at the age of 41, and the most Serie A appearances (570 matches) for more than 20 years, until the 2005–06 season, when the records were broken by S.S. Lazio goalkeeper Marco Ballotta, and A.C. Milan defender Paolo Maldini respectively. Behind only former A.C. Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi, who overtook him during the 1993–94 season, Zoff has conceded the fewest goals in a single Serie A season; behind only Gianluigi Buffon and Sebastiano Rossi, he has also gone the most time unbeaten in Serie A without conceding a goal, producing a 903-minute unbeaten streak during the 1972–73 season, a record that stood until Rossi overtook him in the 1993–94 season;Buffon broke the record during the 2015–16 season. He also held the Serie A record for most consecutive clean sheets alongside Rossi (9), until Gianluigi Buffon overtook them both with his 10th consecutive clean sheet in 2016. With 570 Serie A appearances, Zoff is also the sixth highest appearance holder in Serie A of all time, and he is the fourth oldest player in Serie A to have ever played a match. He holds the record for most consecutive matches played in Serie A (332), a streak which went unbroken from 21 May 1972 (in a 0–0 home draw with Napoli against Bologna), until his final league appearance with Juventus in 1983. At 41 years and 86 days, Zoff is also the oldest player to have appeared in a European Cup or UEFA Champions League Final.