A big moment in Italian football history will come up as Italy face the Czech Republic in the World Cup qualifiers, with Gianluigi Buffon appearing for the 136th time for the Azzurri, tying with Fabio Cannavarro on top of the list for the most capped players in Italy’s history.
There’s no doubt Buffon will end up as number one very soon, even if his place in the starting lineup doesn’t coincide with his inconsistent form for Juventus in the Serie A, while Daniele De Rossi and Andre Pirlo are also still active parts moving up the chart.
9 – Alessandro Del Piero – 91
The man they called a ‘loser’ until the 2006 World Cup and his goal in the semifinal against Germany. Del Piero began his international career in 1995, with his career lasting until 2008 for the national team. He played in four Euro tournaments, making the final in 2000, and in three World Cups, winning it in 2006. He scored 27 goals for the national team, fourth on the all-time list.
8 – Daniele De Rossi, 92 (Still Going)
The 30-year old midfielder is still a huge part of the Italian national side, playing in their most recent match against Bulgaria. De Rossi made his debut in 2004, scoring on his first match for the side as they faced Norway in a World Cup qualifier. He was part of the World Cup winning team in 2006 and also played in the 2010 World Cup. He has two Euro tournaments under his belt as well, scoring 15 goals for the side, two of them in the 2014 qualifiers.
7 – Giacinto Facchetti, 94
The fantastic Inter left back, one of the first truly attacking full backs during the Grande Inter era, began his international career in 1963, playing for the side until 1977. He was part of the 1968 European championship team, and also played in three World Cups – 1966, 1970 and 1974, making the final against Brazil in 1970. He scored 5 goals for Italy, and passed away in 2006, shortly after the World Cup triumph.
6 – Gianluca Zambrotta, 98
The current manager of FC Chiasso, Zambrotta played for Italy in three World Cups, mostly remembered for his part in the amazing defense of the 2006-cup winning side. He also took part in three Euro tournaments. He made his debut for the side in 1999, and took over Paolo Maldini’s permanent place in 2003. He scored only twice.
5 – Andrea Pirlo, 103
Still a very important piece in the puzzle for Italy, Pirlo celebrated his 100th cap during the Confederations Cup in the win over Mexico, which included a beautiful free kick goal. He has scored 13 times for the national team, including once in a World Cup and twice in a European championship. He made his debut for the national team in 2002, and was part of the group that won the World Cup in 2006 and reached the final of the 2012 Euro.
4 – Dino Zoff, 112
Zoff is still the oldest player to ever win the World Cup, captaining Italy in 1982 to their victory over West Germany in Spain. His age was 40 years, 4 months and 13 days at the time. He is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time, playing for Italy from 1968 to 1983, spending most of his career with Juventus, winning six Serie A titles.
3 – Paolo Maldini, 126
It’s a shame Maldini, who played 14 years for the national side, which included three European championships and four World Cups, never won an international competition, although he has plenty of silverware from his AC Milan days (7 league championships, 5 Champions League titles). He scored 7 goals for the national side since making his debut in 1988, making his final appearance in the 2002 World Cup.
1 (tied) – Gianluigi Buffon, 136
Soon to be number one, after his playing days Buffon might be named the greatest goalkeeper that has ever lived. He has been playing for the national team since 1997, taking over the first-team spot when he was only 20. His most memorable moment was the 2006 World Cup penalty shootout in the final, beating France to claim the title. He has been in squads for five World Cups (aiming at six) and three European championships, making the final in 2012.
1 (tied) – Fabio Canavarro, 136
Soon to be demoted from the top, Cannavarro formed one of the greatest centre back duos of all time next to Alessandro Nesta, although Nesta was injured during Cannavarro’s crowning moment in the 2006 World Cup. He became only the second defender to win the FIFA player of the year in 2006, being the oldest recipient of the award at 33. Like Buffon, he made his debut for Italy in 1997, retiring after the 2010 World Cup.