Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has affirmed that Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale are all likely to make his squad for Euro 2012, but ruled out call-ups for experienced attackers Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti.
The national team boss is expected to announce a provisional 30-man squad for this summer's tournament on Sunday, before eventually trimming his roster down to 23 players for the finals. And Prandelli has made it clear that there will not be any unexpected names.
"There will not be any surprises in the squad. Totti and Del Piero? Like I've said before, I'll only consider them in an emergency. I prefer to give younger players such as Roma's Fabio Borini a chance," Prandelli stated to Corriere della Sera.
"Cassano has shown that he loves the national shirt and he did all that he could to recover full fitness as soon as possible. He put pressure on the medics so that he could return to give us a helping hand.
"Balotelli can't afford to make any more mistakes, but I'm confident that he won't. We need to give players with talent an extra chance and there's no doubt that he's a special talent.
"I disagree with anyone who argues that Toto Di Natale doesn't deserve to be in the squad. He has scored almost 100 goals in three years and can be very helpful for us."
Italy are drawn with Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia in Group C at Euro 2012.
Ahn's golden moment
Every footballer goes through ups and downs during their career. Some even undergo the rollercoaster ride in the duration of a single match. For Ahn Jung-Hwan, that particular match proved to be the turning point of his nomadic career, as he scored a memorable golden goal for Korea Republic against Italy at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™.
The Taeguk Warriors went on to reach the last four of the tournament on home soil, the greatest achievement of any Asian side at the world's premier event. And, ironically, the epic win over Gli Azzurri signalled an end to Ahn's playing career in Serie A. Eight years on, FIFA.com takes a closer look at the moment that shook one peninsula and silenced another.
18 June 2002, Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, Korea Republic
Korea Republic 2-1 Italy aet
Scorers: Vieri (ITA) 18', Seol (KOR) 88', Ahn (KOR) 117'
Korea Republic: Lee Woon-Jae; Choi Jin-Cheul, Hong Myung-Bo (Cha Doo-Ri 83), Kim Tae-Young (Hwang Sun-Hong 63); Song Chong-Gug, Yoo Sang-Chul, Kim Nam-Il (Lee Chun-Soo 68), Lee Young-Pyo; Park Ji-Sung, Ahn Jung-Hwan, Seol Ki-Hyeon
Italy: Buffon; Iuliano, Maldini, Panucci, Coco; Zambrotta (Di Livio 72), Zanetti, Tommasi; Del Piero (Gattuso 61), Totti, Vieri
Korea Republic had arrived at the tournament with one simple goal: to win a FIFA World Cup match. By the time they faced the Italians in the Round of 16, Guus Hiddink's side had already overachieved, having beaten Poland and Portugal in the group stage to reach the second round. It seemed the Taeguk Warriors had nothing left to win or lose. However, Hiddink had different ideas and, as he insisted throughout the tournament: "We are still hungry." Still, few could understand why the Dutchman travelled to Suwon to spy on the Round of 16 match between Spain and Republic of Ireland instead of preparing for the encounter with the Italians two days later.
For their part, Italy desperately needed to get back on track following lacklustre performances against Croatia and Mexico in Japan, as well as acclimatising to their new surroundings in Korea. However, confidence was building in the Italian camp. Francesco Totti even told the press: "One goal will be enough to beat the Koreans."
Even before the national anthems were played, the Italians were greeted not only by an intimidating atmosphere, but also a giant card display spelling out 'AGAIN 1966' – a cruel reminder of Korea DPR's stunning victory over Italy in England 36 years earlier.
With first-choice centre-halves Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta ruled out, Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni gave Francesco Coco and Mark Iuliano their first starts at the finals while left-back Christian Panucci moved into the centre to partner Paolo Maldini. The reshuffle, however, seemed to backfire within the first five minutes as Panucci pulled down Seol Ki-Hyeon inside the area. Ahn Jung-Hwan stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, only to see his low shot brilliantly parried away by Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy went on to take the lead, as expected, in the 18th minute, when Christian Vieri rose higher than Korean defenders to direct his header into the top corner of the net following Totti's corner from the left. The Italians then sat back and attempted to lock the door, but the Taeguk Warriors launched a series of attacks, with Ahn twice coming close to equalising as half-time approached.
After the hour-mark, Hiddink took a gamble on attacking football by bringing a trio of forwards, while his counterpart Trapattoni replied by calling Alessandro del Piero and Gianluca Zambrotta back to the bench. With six forwards now united in attempting to break the catenaccio, Korea Republic finally got their reward with only two minutes remaining, as Seol latched on to Panucci's attempted clearance and drilled the ball low into the corner to send the crowd wild.
The Koreans picked up in the extra time where they had left off in the second half, and to make matters worse for the Italians, Totti received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card. And then, with a penalty shoot-out just three minutes away, came the golden goal, Ahn heading a cross from Lee Young-Pyo just inside Buffon's left-hand post.
A clinical forward, Ahn Jung-Hwan was initially famous for his deadly right foot before he gained national stardom thanks to a rare header against the mighty Italians. Ahn scored his third FIFA World Cup goal against Togo at Germany 2006, becoming Korea Republic and Asia's all-time top scorer at world football's showpiece event.
"It's true that winning goals last in your memories. Besides, it was a World Cup goal and something like that is not forgotten easily." Korea Republic forward Ahn Jung-Hwan
"We could and should have won this game, but we just couldn't do it." Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni
What happened next…
Korea Republic went on to beat Spain on penalties to reach the semi-finals, where they went out narrowly 1-0 to Germany. Unfortunately for Ahn, he was released by Perugia in acrimonious circumstances shortly after his heroics against Italy. He went on to continue his career in Japan, France, Germany, Korea Republic, and then recently in China PR, to become one of the most travelled players in South Korea's history. Italy, meanwhile, bounced back from their disappointing campaign at Korea/Japan 2002 to win their fourth FIFA World Cup at the following edition in Germany.
|Full Name : Francesco Totti
Date Of Birth: February 16, 1970
Place of Birth: Viterbo, Italy
National Career: 1995-2006
Caps: 31 (0)
Francesco Totti, (born 27 September 1976 in Rome) is an Italian World Cup-winning footballer. He plays for A.S. Roma in Italy's Serie A, a league where he also stands as the top active scorer, with over one hundred goals. Between 1998 and 2006 he was a regular member of the Italian national team, with whom he won the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Totti's position is that of a striker or an attacking midfielder, though he is best known for playing as the trequartista (or second striker), a compromise between the two positions where the player acts as a link between midfield and attack. He is also Roma's first choice to take free kicks and penalties, having scored a number of goals from dead-ball situations.
Totti is widely recognised as the symbol of Roma, having never left the team despite the possibility of playing in stronger and richer clubs, and being the number one goalscorer and the most capped player in the club's history. On 7 June 2007 Totti was declared the winner of the prestigious European Golden Boot, the award given to the top scorer in all the European leagues.
Totti was born and raised in Rome, in the Porta Metronia city neighborhood. His parents are Enzo and Fiorella Totti. Unlike other children his age who preferred to watch cartoons, Totti was always more interested in watching football matches instead. Totti constantly played football with older boys. His mother refused a big deal for her son from A.C. Milan while waiting for a deal from his favourite club A.S. Roma. His mother intended to never let her son set foot out of the "Eternal City". Totti finally joined the A.S. Roma junior team in 1989.
After three years in the youth team, Totti made his first appearance for AS Roma at the age of 16, when the then coach Vujadin Boškov made him play in the 2-0 away victory against Brescia on 28 March 1993. In the following seasons, although the presence of more expert strikers such as Abel Balbo, Daniel Fonseca and Ruggiero Rizzitelli, the young Totti began to play more games, and thus he succeeded in scoring his first goal on 24 September 1994 in a 1-1 draw against Foggia. With Carlo Mazzone as coach, Totti became a regular in 1995 and scored an amount of 16 goals in three years, the Roman manager kept being a point of reference during the whole Totti's career.
The 1997 was the year of the shift in Totti's career, principally thanks to the arrival of the new coach Zdeněk Zeman, but also because that year he became the Captain of the Capitoline team, and began to be recognised as its real symbol. The bohemian manager used to play with a very offensive 4-3-3 formation, in which Totti was the left winger. In this way Zeman exalted his technical and physical skills, and in the two seasons he remained as AS Roma's manager, Totti scored 30 goals. Though he was not capped for the 1998 World Cup, in 1999 he was awarded the Serie A Young Footballer of the Year. Scudetto 2001 and definitive consecration
The same year AS Roma tried to build a competitive team around Totti, and thus signed up Fabio Capello as coach, and many other great players, such as Vincenzo Montella, Gabriel Batistuta, Walter Samuel and Emerson. During the years of Capello, Totti changed his position, and began to play as trequartista to exploit his great skills in passing and create assists for his teammates. On 17 June 2001 he won his first scudetto with AS Roma, being one of the most important protagonists of the league victory, with 13 goals in the championship and one goal in the 3-0 victory against Fiorentina in Supercoppa Italiana. He was awarded the Italian Footballer of the Year for 2000 and 2001, and in the same year he was in the lists for the Golden Ball, but the award was achieved by Michael Owen.
Totti became a widely recognised idol of the supporters, not only for his great performances on the field, but also for being himself an AS Roma supporter, and for this reason he refused many offers by richer and stronger clubs that wanted to sign him up.
In the following years Totti played as second striker, in a 3-5-2 and in 2003 and 2004 hit a career-high twenty goals, and even if Roma finished runners-up in Serie A twice in three seasons, Totti scored unforgettable goals, such as the 1-0 victory against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium during the 2002-03 Champions League, as the long range lob in the 5-1 victory in the derby against Lazio. Also he achieved two further awards as Italian Footballer of the Year in 2003 and 2004.
At the beginning of the Serie A 2004-05, Fabio Capello quit Roma for Juventus, and due to this giallorossi had a very disappointing season, and the club had to replace four coaches. The only bright side of the season was Roma finishing second in the Italian Cup and thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Despite all the problems, Totti scored fifteen goals, and helped Vincenzo Montella score 21 with numerous assists.
Though Roma were experiencing a bad period, on 3 October 2004 Totti scored his 100th goal for the giallorossi with a 30 meter free-kick against Inter Milan, two months later, on 19 December, he broke AS Roma's goal scoring record when he scored against Parma, it was Totti's 107th goal for the club, a record previously held by Roberto Pruzzo.
As a striker with Spalletti
Roma signed a new coach for the season 2005-06: Luciano Spalletti. He changed the formation into a 4-2-3-1, in which Totti was an atypical striker, because he did not remain forward waiting for crosses or passes, but went back to take the ball, and thus creating spaces for the three attacking midfielders (Mancini, Simone Perrotta and Rodrigo Taddei), that he could trigger with his assists. In this new position Totti began to score more frequently than the past, and the team won eleven consecutive matches, beating previous records (ten consecutive matches by Juventus 1931-'32, Milan 1950-'51 and Bologna 1963-'64). The last match of the streak was a 2-0 victory against rivals S.S. Lazio, and the team moved from fifteenth to fifth by the end of the season, with Totti scoring fifteen goals in 24 matches. Unfortunately, on 19 February the 2006, while playing against Empoli, Totti suffered a fracture of his left fibula, after a bad foul by Richard Vanigli. The injury severed the interconnecting ligaments with the malleolus, and Totti risked missing the 2006 World Cup. Instead he returned from his injury on 11 May 2006 as a substitute in Roma's 3-1 defeat to Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia.
In the 2006-07 season, AS Roma finished second in the league, but succeeded in winning the Italian Cup, beating Inter Milan in the finals. Totti also hit a career high of 31 goals in that season winning the Capocannoniere title (Serie A top scorer), with 26 goals in the league, as well as winning the ESM European Golden Boot award, as the best European goalscorer.
On June 2, 2007, Totti visited Dr. Paolo Mariani, the surgeon who operated on him after he broke his ankle in February of 2006. The doctor examined him and they both decided not to operate on the ankle again to remove the metal plate. Totti was reassured by the doctor that the plate will not cause any problems for next season. There were concerns that the plate could change the positioning of the bone and tendons in the area, but after testing everything was clear.
At the beginning of the season 2007-08, he retired from the national team, expressing his willingness to play his last seasons only with AS Roma. He later won his second Supercoppa Italiana against Inter Milan.
Despite his accomplishments, he was not among the finalists for the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year.
Totti scored in Italy's 4-1 defeat by Spain in the final of the UEFA European Under-18 Championship in July 1995. In the final of the Under-21 competition in 1996, Totti opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw against the Spanish before triumphing on penalties.
Totti made his senior Azzurri debut in the Euro 2000 qualifying victory against Switzerland on 10 October 1998. He played in the finals tournament and scored against Romania and Belgium and played in the final; losing to France. Although he was on the losing side, Totti was named Man of the Match in the final and described by many footballing legends, including Michel Platini (France), as the best player of the tournament.
Disappointment followed at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, with Totti failing to make a significant impact and then being sent off as Italy lost to South Korea in the second round, when he received a second yellow card for diving in the penalty area by referee Byron Moreno.
At Euro 2004, Totti garnered negative media attention when he spat at Christian Poulsen, a midfielder playing for Denmark. Totti was subsequently banned until the semi-finals, but did not play in the tournament again, as Italy failed to qualify for the next round.
On 20 July 2007, Totti announced his retirement from the national team after he had made it clear that his intention was to retire from the national team after the World Cup. He plans to concentrate solely on playing for AS Roma. He also stated that he has been often criticized by the press because he is Roman and that players such as Paolo Maldini and Roberto Baggio were not treated as bad as he was, when they decided to retire. About Roman players in the national team he also added that they are not treated in the same way of players from North Italy and that also Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani may have the same problems.
2006 World Cup
Totti's participation in the 2006 FIFA World Cup was put at risk by the broken ankle he suffered a few months before the tournament. He recovered in time to join the national team, although he was far from his best, and played with metal plates in his ankle that had yet to be removed. During the match with Australia, he scored from the penalty spot in the closing seconds of regulation time to give Italy a 1-0 victory. Italy then went on to face Ukraine, a match in which Totti provided an assist to defender Gianluca Zambrotta. Italy won the match 3-0 and moved on to the semifinals to face Germany. Totti started the game against Germany and played the entire match in which Italy defeated Germany 2-0. He also started in the final against France, but came off after 61 minutes for Daniele De Rossi. Italy went on to win the World Cup. Totti was selected for the 23-man Mastercard All-Star Team.
Totti uses a variety of celebrations for special occasions. His most famous celebration was in the Rome derby of the 1998/1999 season. Totti scored the third and final goal for Roma in the final minutes of the game, and celebrated by flashing a t-shirt which read, "Vi ho purgato ancora". This translates to, "I've purged you guys again". This was in reference to the fact that he scored a goal against Lazio in the previous derby on November 29th, 1998. Another memorable celebration was when he took his shirt off and had a shirt under that said "6 (sei) Unica!" meaning "you are unique", he flashed this to Ilary Blasi, his wife. His most common celebrations are the one where he runs to the side, kissing his ring finger in honor of his wife and, then pointing upwards with his finger, thanking God. When his son, Christian, was born, he began sucking his thumb as a celebration to dedicate his goals to him.
He had a few celebrations that were unique. One time he put the ball under his shirt and he lay on his back as his teammates pulled the ball out. That of course was a skit of childbirth for his newborn son. Another time after he scored in the derby against Lazio he ran to the camera and started filming the crowd.
Totti is married to Ilary Blasi, a former showgirl, who currently works as commentator and host on several RAI TV programs. The couple had their first baby, named Cristian, on 6 November 2005. Their second child, a daughter, Chanel, was born on 13 May 2007.
Totti also runs a football school, named Number Ten, and owns a motorcycle racing team in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing called "Totti Top Sport".
His best friend is his brother, Riccardo. However, Totti always says that his brother was the better player when they were kids, but he was unlucky on his way. Totti had a strong bond with Riccardo so today, Riccardo is Totti's agent.
He also had a bad relationship with his previous coach Fabio Capello. Totti accused Capello of being a traitor for leaving Roma suddenly without a warning, and left the Roman team in a very bad shape which had them almost relegated to the second division in 2004-05 season. This rift started on Capello's last days with Roma: according to Totti, his behaviour to most of the players changed, and he once advised the younger players not to take Totti as their role model player, but to take Brazilian Emerson as an idol for his hard work. Several months later, Capello, Emerson and Frenchman Jonathan Zebina all left AS Roma for rivals Juventus suddenly.
His close friendship with former teammate Antonio Cassano was ended as well when Cassano created a ton of problems for AS Roma before moving off to join Real Madrid where he was later joined by Capello and Emerson. Currently Totti and Cassano are not on talking terms. In a public bust up with Capello, Cassano claimed that he was wrong to leave Roma and he hopes that Roma and Totti will forgive him.
Seria A: 2001
Coppa Italia: 2007
Supper Coppa Italiana: 2001, 2007 (2 Titles)
Italy National Team
UEFA Under-21 European Championship: 1996
UEFA European Championship
FIFA World Cup: 2006
FIFA 100 (125 greatest living players, as selected by Pelé)
2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
EURO 2000 Team of the Tournament
Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2000, 2003 (2 Titles)
Italian Footballer of the Year: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 (4 Titles)
Serie A Young Footballer of the Year: 1999
Serie A top scorer: 2006-07 (26)
European Golden Boot: 2006-2007
A goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, Totti published two self-effacing joke books in order to raise money for a children's charity. They were bestsellers for many months. Some of the jokes were filmed into short clips that were acted out by Totti himself, along with some of his national team mates such as Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, Marco Delvecchio, Alessandro Nesta and Antonio Cassano.
Totti's idol player in his childhood was ex-Roma captain Giuseppe Giannini, whom he considers as his elder brother: he always wished to just shake hands with Giannini, and was one of his biggest fans. Several years after, Totti himself had the opportunity to play alongside Giannini on the pitch in the AS Roma kit.
Totti is famous for his chipping technique, called in Italian il cucchiaio (in English, "spoon" or in his Roman dialect (Romanesco), "er cucchiaio"). He has scored many beautiful goals using this technique. His famous early goals using this technique was in a shoot-out against Netherlands in the Euro 2000 semi-final when he scored against Netherlands keeper Edwin van der Sar, he also scored a second famous goal two years later against Lazio in the derby, which ended 5-1 to A.S. Roma, and against Inter a few years later after dribbling Marco Materazzi. Consequently, his autobiography is entitled "Mo' Je Faccio Er Cucchiaio", which is Roman dialect (Romanesco) for "I'll Chip Him".
He was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as a part of FIFA's centenary celebrations in March 2004.
Totti also collects sports shirts from teams around the world. In 2003 after a Six Nations rugby game between Italy and Ireland, two Irish players Brian O'Driscoll and Denis Hickie were approached by one of Totti's representitives offering two Totti shirts for each of theirs, the players duly accepted the exchange.
The boss again gave a cryptic response to the idea of the pair of World Cup winners turning out for the Azzurri again and would like Mario Balotelli to 'calm down'.
It has been a number of years since the seasoned forwards made their last appearances for the national team, but the injuries to Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano have seemingly opened the door to the possibility of two sensational comebacks.
However, the coach again was tight-lipped when posed the question: "Totti and Del Piero wearing the Azzurri colours? I do not say yes and I do not say no, I say wait.
"Of course, I miss Rossi and Cassano, but I will wait until the last day for them. Balotelli is very strong, but still needs to calm down."
Prandelli had been touted as a potential candidate for the managerial post at Inter following Claudio Ranieri's sacking a few days ago.
In response to the reports, he admitted he does miss aspects of coaching at club level but insisted Italy remains his sole focus going into the summer's showpiece event.
"Inter? I am concentrating on the national team, but if it goes wrong in Poland and Ukraine, who knows," Prandelli told Tuttosport.
"I repeat, I do miss the day-to-day responsibility, I've never hidden it."
Italy open their European Championship campaign against Group C rivals Spain on June 10.