Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Southern Italy Greatest All-Time Team

Two Southerners vs Germany at the 2006 World Cup Finals

Please also look at my all-time Italy and my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Italian diaspora
Central Italy.
Northern Italy(excluding Lombardy)Lombardy
Italy after 1982Italy between 1938 and 1982.
Italian Players' surnames ending with an "i"

Southern Italy (Mezzogiorno) consists of the administrative regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Molise, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. The big clubs in the area are Napoli, Cagliari, Palermo, Bari, Messina, Lecce and Catania.  Italian football is dominated by the Northern clubs, but Diego Maradona led Napoli to break monopoly in the 1980's.

All players are selected based upon place of birth.  I cannot go into the ancestry of every Italian player in history to determine if they are Southerners.  I tried to all great Southern Italian footballers not born there to honourable mention.
Iaquinta and Di Natale

GK: Morgan Da Sanctis (Abruzzo)
Morgan Da Sanctis is brilliant keeper, but his international opportunities limited by playing at the same time as Gianluigi Buffon. He only had 6 caps.  He was, however, included in squads for Euro 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012.  From 1999 to 2007, he played for Udinese.  Then, he had another long career with Napoli.  

GK: Salvatore Sirigu (Nuoro, Sardinia)
Salvatore Sirigu began his career with Venezia, and then Palermo. In 2011, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain. Twice voted the Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year, his honours at the club include four consecutive league titles, and all four domestic competitions in both the 2014–15 and 2015–16 seasons. After spending the 2016–17 season on loan to Sevilla and Osasuna, he was signed by Torino in 2017.
GK: Franco Tancredi (Abruzzo)
Tancredi began his career with Giulianova, and later also played with Milan and Rimini, before joining Roma. He made 288 Serie A appearances for Roma between 1979 and 1990, winning the Scudetto in 1983 and four Coppa Italia titles. In 1987, during a game against Milan at the San Siro, he was hit on the head by a firework thrown by a Milan supporter. He stopped breathing for a short time but was eventually resuscitated by paramedics. 

RB: Massimo Oddo (Abruzzo)
Oddo  was a product of AC milan academy, but he made his name with Lazio, where he played from 2002 to 2007.  He eventually returned to Milan in 2007, where he won the Champions' League in 2007. He also played for Napoli, Bayern Munich and Verona. He had 34 caps. He was a member of Italy's championship winning squad during the 2006 FIFA World Cup under Marcello Lippi,

CB: Fabio Cannavaro (Campania)
Fabio Cannavaro was capped 138 times between 1997 and 2010. He was the captain and perhaps, the best Italian player of the 2006 World Cup winning team.  He was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the third defender to win the award. At the club level, he started his career with Napoli and had spells with Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
Fabio Cannavaro
LB/CB: Felice Gasperi (Abruzzo)
Felice Gasperi was only capped 6 times because Italy started a lineup consisted of Juventus players at his time.  He played for Italy during the 1920's, winning a Bronze medal at the 1928 Olympics.  However, his name was not listed among medalists.  He was born join Bologna, where he played his entire career club career.

SW: Ciro Ferrara (Campania)
He was considered one of the best defenders in the world during his prime.  However, his international career was limited by the same period with Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Pietro Vierchowod, Riccardo Ferri, Giuseppe Bergomi, Fabio Cannavaro, and Alessandro Nesta.  For club football, he played nearly a decade for Napoli during Diego Maradona's years before moving to Juvnetus.  At Juventus, he won 6 scudettis and a single Champions' League.

CB: Marco Materazzi (Apulia)
Marco Materazzi was highly controversial defender in his prime.  He was remembered for scoring the equaliser against France at the Final of the 2006 World Cup Finals, and then, the headbutt incident in which  Zidane was sent off.  From 2001 to 2006, he payed 41 times for Italy.  His best club football was played with Inter Milan.  He won 6 straight scudettis with them and a single Champions' League in 2010. He also played for Perugia and Everton.
Marco Materazzi 
LB: Giuseppe Pancaro (Calabria)
Pandora made his name with Cagliari.  After Cagliari were relegated in 1997, he transferred to S.S. Lazio.  He was better known for his six seasons with Lazio. He was a part of Lazio's Serie A winning team in 2000. He also played for Milan, Torino and Fiorentina.  He earned 19 caps for Italy, but never played in a major tournament.

LB: Francesco Coco (Sicily)
Coco was a part of the Azzurri at Japan/Korea 2002. Coco spent the majority of his club career with the Milan clubs; first with A.C. Milan between 1993 and 2002 and later with F.C. Internazionale between 2002 and 2007. He also had several loan spells with Vicenza Calcio, Torino F.C. and FC Barcelona. He won two Scudetti with Milan.

DM: Gennaro Gattuso (Calabria)
Gennaro Gattuso was a highly regarded destroyer in his prime. He spent 13 years with AC Milan, forming a famous partnership with Andreas Pirlo. His strength and brutal style complemented well with Pirlo's creativity. He also played for Rangers, Perugia and Sion. He won two Champions' League with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.  For the Azzurri, he earned 73 caps.  He went to three World Cup Finals, winning the 2006 World Cup Finals, playing along side Pirlo again.
Gennaro Gattuso
CM: Fernando De Napoli (Campania)
Fernando De Napoli was a part of the successful Napoli side that also featured Diego Maradona.  He won the scudetto in 1987 and 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1987, the UEFA Cup in 1989, and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1990. He also won two scudettos with AC Milan. For his country, De Napoli took part in the 1986 World Cup, the Euro 88 and the 1990 World Cup.

CM: Antonio Juliano (Campania)
Juliano played the majority of his club career with Napoli (1962–78), winning the Coppa delle Alpi in 1966, and the Coppa Italia and the Anglo-Italian League Cup in 1976. He finished his playing career after a season with Bologna, retiring in 1979, after helping the club to avoid relegation.  He went to three World Cup Finals: 1966, 1970 and 1974, but only played one match.

RW/LW:  Franco Causio (Apulia)
Franco Causio capped 63 times.  He was a part of the Azzurri at Euro 1980 and then, the World Cup in 1982.  He played 11 years for Juventus between 1970 and 1981.   During a highly successful period with the club, he won the scudetto six times, as well as winning a Coppa Italia, and an UEFA Cup. He also reached the European Cup final with Juventus during the 1972–73 season.

AM: Stefano Fiore (Calabria) 
Fiore started out with Cosenza in 1992, but known for his career with Parma, where he won two the UEFA Cups.   He later played with Lazio, Udinese, Padova, Chievo, Valencia, Fiorentina, Torino, Livorno, etc. He was capped 38 times for Italy between 2000 and 2004 in period when Italy had many great attacker midfielders.  He played at Euro 2000 and 2004.

AM: Gianfranco Zola (Sardinia)
Gianfranco Zola played with Diegoi Maradona at Napoli as a young player. He played for Parma between 1993 and 1996, winning the 1995 UEFA Cup with Tomas Brolin, Fernando Couto, Faustino Asprilla and Stefano Fiore. He moved to Chelsea in 1996 and won the FWA Footballer of the Year.  His transfer to Chelsea started a wave of foreign players heading over to England. For the national team, he only played 35 times for Italy due to overcrowding of attack midfielders during his prime. 
Gianfranco Zola
FW/AM: Fabio Quagliarella (Campania)
Fabio Quagliarella started his career with Torino, but played for various clubs in Italy.  Throughout his career, he has played for eight different Italian clubs, winning three consecutive Serie A titles during his spell with Juventus between 2010 and 2014. He was a part of the European Championship in 2008 and the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.  

FW: Antonio Di Natale (Campania)
Antonio Di Natale played 5 seasons with Empoli before siging with Udinese, where his career took off.  He was the Seria A top scorer for two seasons: 2010 and 2011. At the international level, he only played 42 times for Italy.  He was a key player at the World Cup Finals in 2010. He also went to the European Championship in both 2008 and 2012.

FW: Antonio Cassano (Puglia)
Antonio Cassano was controversial figure known to have clashes with managers, teammates, etc.  He made a big move to Roma as a 19 years old as one of Italy's brightest young players.  Initially, he found successes with the club, but clashes with manager Fabio Capello led to his falling out with the club.  He would play for Real Madrid, Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma with mixed results.  He gained his first caps in 2003, but he was in and out of the players' pool.
Antonio Cassano 
ST: Toto Schillaci (Sicily)
Salvatore Schillaci started with Messina at home before moving to Juventus in 1989.  He was a relatively, unknown player at the beginning of the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy. He started off as a substitute in the first two matches, where he scored decisive goals coming off the bench.  He became a starter by the third match.  He went on to form a great partnership with Roberto Baggio.  He scored 5 goals and finished as the top scorer and won the Gold Ball.
Toto Schillaci
ST: Vincenzo Iaquinta (Calabria) 
At the club lebel, Vincenzo Iaquinta made a name as the offensive partner of Antonio Di Natale while they played for Udinese.  He also played for Juventus between 2007 and 2013.  He played 40 matches for the Italy national football team between 2005 and 2010, scoring 6 goals. He was a part of Italy's World Cup winning team in 2006. He played in 5 out of 7 of Italy's matches in Germany.
ST: Mario Balotelli (Sicily)
Mario Balotelli was born in Sicily of Ghanian parents.  He was adopted by an Italian family of Jewish background.  He is known for his disciplinary problems with different clubs in his career.  He was considered one of Italy's brightest young stars.  He played with Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan, Liverpool and Nice.

ST: Vincenzo Montella (Campania) 
Vincenzo Montella played for Empoli, Genoa, Sampdoria and Roma in Italy, and also had a spell on loan in England with Fulham. His best years were spent with Roma, where he won the Serie A title and the Supercoppa Italiana during the 2000–01 season. He was voted into the Hall of Flame of AS Roma in 2013. For Italy, he went to the European Championship in 2000 and the World Cup Finals in 2002, but saw limited action. 
Vincenzo Montella 

Honorable Mention 
Ciro Immobile (Campania), Fabio Quagliarella (Campania), Giuseppe Galderisi (Campania), Leonardo Costagliola (Puglia), Roberto Galia (Sicily), Claudio Gentile (Sicilian born in Libya), Simone Perrotta (born in England of parents from Calabria), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Campania).

Squad Explanation
-- Gianluigi Donnarumma was born in Campania, but he needed to earn a spot.
-- Mario Balotelli was born in Palermo, Sicily, but he grew up in North with his foster parents. Since I have been using birthplace as tge main criteria, he is eligible for this team.
-- I do believe that Mario Balotelli is overrated, but he got better name recognition than Ciro Immobile (Campania), Fabio Quagliarella (Campania) and Giuseppe Galderisi(Campania) at the time when I wrote the blog.  Since then, his reputation have fallen down. 
-- Three of the bad boys of Italian football are on this team: Marco Materazzi, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.  Cassano did not live up to his talents. Balotelli is following his footsteps.
-- A few players were unlucky to live in a period where there are fierce competition for their positions.  Morgan Da Sanctis, Gianfranco Zola, Stefano Fiore and Ciro Ferrara wuld have a different international career if they were born in a different era. Marco Materazzi contributed to Italy's 2006 World Cup winning team, but his total caps was limited by playing with the same time as some of the greatest centerbacks.
-- Luca Riva was associated with Cagliari, but he was born in Lombardy.
-- Fernando De Napoli's name indicated that he is from the region. He was born in Campania. He is the only member from Diego Maradona's Napoli who got selected to my all-time team.  Napoli put Southern Italian club on the map.
-- Five members of the 2006 World Cup winning squad made this all-time team.  They are Fabio Cannavaro, Massimo Oddo, Marco Materazzi, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Gennaro Gattuso.  No one from the other World Cup winning teams made my squad.  Simone Perrotta's parents are from Calabria too.  I have not checked if anyone born in the South Italy had won a World Cup before 2006.
-- Simone Perrotta was born in England to parents from Cosenza, Calabria. Claudio Gentile is Sicilian, but he was born in Libya.  By my birth rule, he is not eligible for this team. I added both to the honorable mention.  

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-2-1-3
  • At his very best, Cassano could be one of the best in Italy.  Fiore was the alternative.
  •  Sirigu has not done enough to be the starter yet.


  1. Riccardo carapellese was a good striker and Antonio conte was worthy of an honourable mention.

  2. Tancredi e sirigu sono entrambi meglio di de sanctis.