124. Gaetano Scirea
Gaetano Scirea made his Serie A debut for Atalanta in the beginning of the 1972/73 season, but was transferred to Juventus only a couple of years later. He made his name there as one of the best and most respected defenders in the world game through more than a decade. He was a gentleman on and off the field and never got sent off or suspended in his long career, much thanks to his ability to read the game. He won every possible honour with Juve including all three European Cups and seven “Scudettos” (Italian Serie A titles). Scirea also played at the same high level for Italy in three World Cups. The first in 1978 where he and Italy beat eventual winners Argentina in the first round, but had to settle for fourth place having lost to Brazil in the bronze match.
Gaetano experienced a wonderful summer in 1982. Spain hosted the World Cup and Italy won having struggled a lot early on drawing all three first round games to Poland, Peru and Cameroon. There then followed four straight wins over defending champions Argentina, the favourites Brazil, Poland and then West Germany in the final. Scirea set up Tardelli’s goal in the final and his presence in defence was invaluable.
Italy failed to reach their level of 1982 when the World Cup was held in Mexico four years later now with Scirea as captain. France and Juventus colleague Platini knocked them out in the second round. This tournament also marked the end of his international career.
Gaetano Scirea died in a tragic car accident in Poland in 1989 while scouting for Juventus, and at Stadio Delle Alpi they have named the end after him where all Juventus’ most fanatical supporters are. A model professional, Scirea was well-liked by everyone involved in soccer, even Juve’s worst enemies, as he always was abiding the rules and appeared with class on the field. Even today, more than a decade after his death, you can see banners and hear fans sing songs with his name at Stadio Delle Alpi.