Walter Zenga is a retired Italian footballer and current football manager. He was a long-time goalkeeper for Internazionale and the Italian national team. He also holds Romanian citizenship. During his playing career, Zenga was part of the Italian squad that finished fourth at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, United States and was starting goalkeeper for the Azzurri team that finished third in the 1990 FIFA World Cup tournament held in Italy, keeping a World Cup record unbeaten streak. A three-time winner of the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper Award, Zenga is regarded by pundits as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, and in 2013 was voted the eighth best goalkeeper of the past quarter-century by IFFHS. In 2000, he also placed 20th in the World Keeper of the Century Elections by the same organization. After retiring as a player, Zenga briefly became an actor in an Italian soap opera and also a pundit on Italian TV. He has since became a well travelled head coach and has managed clubs in USA, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and England.
January 9th 1994
Reggiana vs Internazionale
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This shirt was worn by Walter Zenga during the Serie A game between Reggiana and Internazionale which took place in Reggio Emilia, “Stadio Mirabello”, on january 9th 1994. Internazionale defeated Reggiana 1-0 and at the end of the game Zenga swapped his shirt with a Reggiana’s player whom we got it from. Zenga joined Inter Milan in 1982, after starting his professional career in 1978 in the lower divisions of Italian football (his first team was Salernitana in Serie C1, and he also played for Savona and Sambenedettese). Initially (in the 1982–83 season) he was the substitute of Ivano Bordon, who was one of the top Italian goalkeepers of his era, as he had been Dino Zoff’s reserve in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. However, Zenga played Inter’s matches in the Coppa Italia, impressing enough that the club decided not to buy another goalkeeper after Bordon’s decision to move to Sampdoria during the summer of 1983. Zenga became Inter’s starting goalkeeper in the 1983–84 season, where he conceded only 23 goals, better than any other goalkeeper in that season. Zenga experienced the peak of his career in the late 80’s and beginning of the 90’s. For three consecutive years (1989–1991) he was nominated by IFFHS the best goalkeeper in the world, ahead of goalkeepers like Michel Preud’homme, Rinat Dasaev and Andoni Zubizarreta. Zenga was at his best between the posts, as his great explosiveness and sharp reflexes enabled him to make great and spectacular saves. Not known for being a great penalty saver (frequently dropping down to the ground in the middle of the goal), in his career he did however save penalty kicks from Roberto Baggio, Michel Platini and Paul Merson. Zenga continued to play for Inter until 1994, winning the UEFA Cup in 1991 and 1994, his last season with the club.
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Zenga was capped 58 times for the Italy national football team at senior level between 1987 and 1992. In these, he conceded only 21 goals (0.36 per game) and kept 41 clean sheets (70.69%), both averages being a record for the Italian national team. He previously featured in the Italian squad at the 1984 Olympics, where the team managed a fourth-place finish, and also featured as one of the Italy under-21 side’s overage players 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, as the team’s starting goalkeeper. He was also included in Enzo Bearzot’s 22-man Italy squad for the 1986 World Cup. Initially selected as the team’s third goalkeeper behind Fiorentina’s Giovanni Galli and Roma’s Franco Tancredi, his name was taken in consideration by Bearzot before the match against the Michel Platini-led France due to the poor performances of Galli (who, in the end, also played against France). Zenga became the Italian national side’s starting goalkeeper under manager Azeglio Vicini, ahead of his perceived career rival, Stefano Tacconi. During the 1988 UEFA European Championships, Zenga played all four of Italy’s matches (a 1–1 draw against West Germany, a 1–0 victory over Spain, and a 2–0 win over Denmark in the group stage matches, and a 0–2 loss against the Soviet Union in the semi-final). Here again Zenga was at the centre of controversy: in the first match against West Germany he conceded a free kick inside the penalty area due to having made too many steps while carrying the ball in his hands (an infringement rarely penalised). Andreas Brehme, who would become Zenga’s teammate at Inter only a few months later, scored from the resulting free kick to tie the game for West Germany. Italy reached the semi-finals of the competition. Zenga remained first choice goalkeeper when Italy hosted the World Cup in 1990, and helped the team to a third-place finish, during which he set a record of five consecutive clean sheets, and a total of 518 minutes without conceding a goal, a record still standing. The record was fortunate, in Italy’s second game Czechoslovakia scored a goal which would have put them 1-0 up only to have it wrongly disallowed for offside. His unbeaten streak was ended by Claudio Caniggia’s header in the semi-finals against defending champions Argentina, after Zenga had made an error when coming out to collect a cross; following a 1–1 draw after extra-time, Argentina advanced to the final 4–3 on penalties, while Zenga failed to stop a single spot kick in the shoot-out. In the third-place match against England, Zenga conceded his second goal of the tournament when he was beaten by a David Platt header, although Italy managed to capture the bronze medal with a 2–1 victory. After Italy had failed to qualify for the 1992 European Championship, Arrigo Sacchi was appointed as Italy’s new manager, and he eventually excluded Zenga from his side, in favour of goalkeepers who were more suited to his zonal marking defensive system, such as Gianluca Pagliuca, and Luca Marchegiani.
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In 1994, Zenga transferred to Sampdoria where he played for two seasons. In the season 1995-1996 the team was once again condemned to midfield mediocrity, despite the services of super striker Enrico Chiesa, who netted 22 goals in just 27 appearances. Sven-Göran Eriksson continued with an attacking style of play, leading to Sampdoria scoring 59 goals in 34 matches, only bettered by champions Milan and Lazio. The backside was the many conceded goals it led to, with even relegated Torino having a better defensive record than the Genua team. Playmaker duo Clarence Seedorf and Christian Karembeu had great seasons, both compensating for the losses of Jugović, Lombardo and David Platt in the summer. The duo caught the attention of Real Madrid, and moved to Spain, with Karembeu staying put until the end of the 1996-97 season.
Match Worn Gloves
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An aggressive and athletic goalkeeper, Zenga was nicknamed Deltaplano (“Hang glider”) due to his shot-stopping abilities, explosive reactions, bravery, and in particular for his speed and agility, which enabled him to produce spectacular saves. Despite his reputation, the media was often critical of Zenga’s penalty-saving record throughout his career, although he stopped penalties against notable specialists, such as Roberto Baggio, Paul Merson, and Michel Platini; he was also criticised by pundits for his unsteady performances when coming out to claim crosses, and performed best between the posts. In addition to his goalkeeping ability, Zenga was also known for his temper and flamboyant celebrations as a footballer. His other nickname, L’Uomo Ragno (“Spider-Man”), is not related to his goalkeeping skills, but rather to a curious circumstance: in 1992, while answering questions about his exclusion from the Italian national team, Zenga softly sang a song by the Italian band 883, called Hanno ucciso l’Uomo Ragno (“Someone killed Spider-Man”), which led pundits and supporters to call him like the Marvel Comics character. Zenga was capped 58 times for the Italy national football team. After featuring in the country’s squads at the 1984 Olympics and the 1986 FIFA World Cup, Zenga became the starter during the 1988 UEFA European Championships. Zenga remained first choice goalkeeper when Italy hosted the World Cup in 1990, and led the team to a third-place finish during which he set a record of five consecutive clean sheets, and a total of 518 minutes without conceding a goal, a record still standing.