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Inzaghi: Tribute to a Legend

Pippo Inzaghi

Rosseneri faithful all over the world will not forget13th May, 2012 for many reasons. It was the night they bid farwell to their Legends. Legends like Gattuso, Nesta, Seedorf, Inzaghi who created history with Milan. The fans flocked in to see their superstars play for the famous red and black one last time. It was the night of the legends but the afternoon was stolen by Inzaghi, as many afternoons, evenings and games have been. Inzaghi bid farewell to the fans in the best possible way. Coming on as a substitute, to a loud cheer, Pippo chested a lovely ball over the top from Seedorf and volleyed it into the net past Fontana. It was a fairytale ending to an extra ordinary career.

The fans had come to see Inzaghi score one last time and score he did. The San Siro crowd went berserk as all hell broke loose when he slotted that ball past the helpless goalkeeper. The whole stadium sang in unison “Pippo Inzaghi segna per noi,” (Pippo Inzaghi scores for us). He celebrated his goal in typical “Pippo” style as he fell on his knees and kissed his Milan badge. It meant the world to him. His last goal as a professional in his last competitive match. It was the night Super Pippo signed out as one of the best goalscorers in history, a symbol of passion, and an ageless football legend who won – and scored – (in) every tournament in the beautiful game.

Inzaghi Last Goal

Inzaghi celebrates after scoring his last ever goal for Milan against Novarra [Photo: goal.com]

The world took notice of Inzaghi back in 1996-1997. After multiple loan spells, Inzaghi made his Serie A début with Parma but he couldn’t cement his place and was soon offloaded to Atlanta in 1996 and that kicked started the illustrious career of Pippo Inzaghi. He had an extra ordinary season with Atlanta finishing Capocannoniere (Serie A’s top scorer) with 24 goals and scored against each and every opposition. He was awarded Serie A Young Footballer of the year.

His performance with Atalanta did not go unnoticed as Serie A giants, Juventus snatched him up for around €10 millon.  He formed a formidable attack with Del Piero and Zidane and helped them win the Super Coppa Italiana and the Serie A (1997-98) in his very first season. They could have won the double but Juventus lost to Real Madrid 1-0 in the Champions League final. Inzaghi scored 18 goals in the Serie A and 6 in the Champions league to end the season on a high.

Inzaghi’s playing time reduced due to the emergence of Trezguet and so after 4 years, 165 games and 89 goals, Juventus sold Inzaghi to their arch rivals AC Milan for a fee of around €15 million.

Two years after his move from Turin, Inzaghi won his first European trophy with Milan as they defeated his old team, Juventus on penalties. A bitter-sweet victory against his former club. 2003-04 turned out to be one of his best season as he landed up scoring 30+ goals including 12 in the Champions league. He was Italy’s top scorer in their EURO 2004 qualification campaign but a nasty knee injury back in December 2003 almost ruined his career. He missed out his chance to represent Italy in EURO 2004 due to injury and he continued to struggle with them, failing to reach a consistent run of games until the 2005/2006 season. On paper his international career seemed over, but one should never write off Inzaghi. An extraordinary comeback from injury earned him a spot in Italy’s squad in 2006, and they went on to win the World Cup where he scored his one and only goal.

After winning the World Cup in 2006, Inzaghi returned to a Milan in crisis. His strike partner and talisman Shevchenko was sold, so was Rui Costa and Calciopoli had left the club’s reputation and finances severely damaged. Milan endured a difficult campaign in the league, but in the Champions League it was business as usual. Although Kaka shouldered the responsibility and carried Milan through the group stages, past Celtic in the round of 16 and Manchester United in the semifinals single-handedly. It was all Inzaghi in the finals. Milan avenged their 2005 final loss and beat Liverpool 2-1 with Inzaghi scoring both the goals and etched his name in the history books.

Inzaghi Champions League

Pippo Inzaghi with the Champions League trophy in 2007 [Photo: chinadaily.com.cn]

On 24th August, 2012, at the age of 39, Pippo finally decided to quit football to become the head coach of AC Milan’s Allievi Nazionali (under 17) team.  He finished his Milan career with 126 goals in 300 matches. He had offers from England and Spain, but he just couldn’t stay away from his beloved club. Such was his love for Milan, he couldn’t wear another team’s jersey after 11 years with Milan.

At a time when Milan are going through one of their worst phases in history, the Rossoneri faithful will hope that Inzaghi could instil every bit of his passion in these young lads. Only time will tell if he can be a successful manager but his passion for the game can help him succeed. They say that passion is infectious, so let’s hope that his passion and hunger rubs off on the young kids he’ll train.

Inzaghi became the first striker to score in all international club competitions, open to European teams, after his double against Boca Juniors during the FIFA Club World Cup final in 2007.

Inzaghi has the record for the most number of hat-tricks in Serie A is the last 25 seasons. With 10 hat-tricks, Inzaghi is ahead of Giuseppe Signori (9), Hernán Crespo (8),Roberto Baggio, Marco van Basten, Gabriel Batistuta, Abel Balbo, Vincenzo Montella (7), and Antonio Di Natale and David Trezeguet (6). Inzaghi has scored one hat-trick for Atalanta, four for Juventus, and five for Milan.

With 70 goals, Inzaghi is the second highest scorer in European club competitions behind Raúl (77). He has the most number of hat-tricks (3) in the Champions league along with Micheal Owen and Lionel Messi.

Ha has captured almost every major trophy in the game – 2 Champions Leagues, 3 Scudetti, 1 Club World Cup, 1 Coppa Italia,1 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship and 1 World Cup.

Pippo Inzaghi Bagged a final award to round off his illustrious career. He was honored with the life time achievement award at Grand Gala Del Calcio AIC 2013 held on 27th January, 2013.

Pippo Inzaghi was born in an offside position

– Sir Alex Ferguson

There’s a reason Pippo was constantly offside, it’s because he times his runs off the last defender’s shoulder. He made countless runs in the box and was judged offside numerous times but that did not stop him. Every time the ball was sent into the box or anywhere near him, you just knew he’d get there first; not because of his speed, but because of his instinct. That was what made him so dangerous. He kept the defenders on their feet and read the game better than anybody.

Goals love him more than he loves them

-Carlo Ancelotti

It’s a bit of an anomaly that a player never spoken in the same breath as the greats such as Pele, Maradona, Zidane, Maldini has been given a lifetime achievement award less than a year into his retirement.

There is a bit of a bitter sweet tinge to his honor, knowing that he deserves it and accepting that we won’t see him celebrate every goal like he’d just won the World Cup. Pippo lived to score and you could see in his celebrations how much he enjoyed putting the ball in the net by any means possible. His goals, celebrations and his undying passion will be missed and Football will definitely be poorer without Inzaghi.

Inzaghi celebration

He burst into fame as a ‘lucky’ striker, but bows out as a legend of the game, an idol amongst Milan fans, and one of the best Italian footballers in history. Hanging up his boots after a 15 year career one can’t help but stand in awe and be immensely proud of what Filippo Inzaghi has managed to achieve. What Pippo won was far beyond the accolades and the medals. It was the hearts of millions and millions of people. He did not possess the dribbling skills of Messi or the speed of Ronaldo but Inzaghi more than made up for it with his footballing intelligence and his passion. Two elements that did not let him down. He couldn’t dribble, nor make a simple long pass but desire, determination, and extremely intelligent movement were his keys to scoring. And boy did he score. He scored some ugly goals, simple tap-ins, flying headers and he scored with his shoulder and stomach too. He can leave without any regrets, and with his head held high. He played for the fans, and never ever let them down.

His dream is to lift the Champions league trophy as a Milan Manager and we do hope that his dream comes true. We will wait for that day and the San Siro will once again sing in unison “Pippo Inzaghi segna per noi”.

After decades of journeying through the Serie A, nobody can doubt that Pippo is finally home.

Grazie Pippo! One of the greatest goal poachers in the history of football.

 

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