While a 7’6 Chinese NBA center is probably calling it quits from his NBA career, a 5’9 centre BACK, a gladiator, a world champion, who spent a twilight season making tons of money in Dubai, has also announced stepping away from his career. Fabio Cannavaro, the Italy captain during their 2006 World Cup winning campaign, winner of four league titles with Juventus (taken away from them) and Real Madrid, who began his career in 1992 with Napoli, has been advised by doctors that his knee injury will deny him from returning to the game.
Maybe it should have happened after the 2010 World Cup. Cannavaro had a terrible season with Juventus, followed by the shocking exit after three matches in South Africa. The Italian defense, like pretty much every other part of the team, wasn’t looking very impressive. Cannavaro, 36 at the time, went for a bit more money and one more year of football.
Maybe the best central defender in the world during the previous decade, Cannavaro finished his career with 136 caps for Italy, more than any other Azzurri player in history. Usually partnered with Alessandro Nesta during their best years, Cannavaro was the opposite of the elegant Nesta, usually regarded as the better defender. Nesta – Taller, sleek looking and always defending with apparent effortlessness. Cannavaro – Thuggish looking, small and relentless bulldog. Dirty even. Bottom line – With Nesta injured, Cannavaro led the way during Italy’s 2006 World Cup, as the Italians conceded only 2 goals on their way to their fourth World Cup trophy.
History won’t remember Cannavaro as the most skillful player or something like that. He’ll be remembered as a take no prisoners kind of defender and player. A leader, a pit bull, an impassible wall during his best years. The best defender in the world during the height of his career.