How will Filippo Inzaghi be remembered for his playing days? What will be the first thing that comes to mind? Constantly offside? His non-stop diving? Or maybe it’s going to be him in the AC Milan uniform, scoring goal after goal, winning league titles, Champions League trophies and the FIFA World Cup?
It’s hard to argue with numbers – Inzaghi won three league titles in his career with Juventus and Milan, two Champions league titles with Milan and was part of the Italian squad in the 2006 World Cup that left Germany with a trophy. He played in only one group stage match, scoring a goal, but he’s got a winners’ medal nonetheless.
More numbers? He was the Serie A’s top scorer in 1996-1997 with 24 goals for Atalanta, which got him his ticket to the big clubs – first to Juventus and then to Milan. With 70 goals in European competitions, he’s second to only Raul (77 goals) in goals scored. He has 156 goals in 370 Serie A appearances, putting him at 16th on the all-time list alongside Roberto Mancini and Luigi Riva. He has more hat-tricks in the Serie A (10) than anyone else. His three Champions League hat-tricks put him level with Michael Owen and Lionel Messi, also the most in competition history.
Alex Ferguson once said of Inzaghi – That lad must have been born offside. Inzaghi was never loved too much by opposing fans, opposing players and referees. He made life hard for them. Constantly playing off the shoulder of the last defending player, Inzaghi seemed to be in a constant state of offside. When that didn’t work, he’d simply fall down and wave his hands like he got shot. When it comes to how you want young players to act; who you want them to learn from – Inzaghi’s not the man.
But his goalscoring and that elusive trait that made him a winner, like scoring the two goals in Milan’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final are something you’d love to see in other players and strikers. Fantastic off the ball movement and an understanding of where to be to pick up rebounds or make it easier for the passer to find him. Inzaghi has plenty of that to teach at his new role for AC Milan, the head coach for the u-17 team at the club.
It’s a dream since I was a child to score twice in the final, and the ones I scored yesterday evening were the most important in my life. It was an unforgettable game. It’s something that will stay with me all my life and two goals in the final speaks for itself.
So how will we remember Inzaghi? One of the best goalscorers of his era, who should have had a much more impressive tally if it wasn’t for the injuries that plagued him after joining AC Milan? Or one of the dirtiest footballers alive? A little bit of both, but as times goes by, the good will probably wash out the bad memories. He was never the best striker in Europe or the world, but there were few like him, in what they did and how they did it.