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Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Best Lousy Player in the World by Jim Riggio

This guest blog was contributed by Jim Riggio for World Football Commentaries. Video of Filippo Inzaghi courtesy of YouTube.

If there was an award to be given out for the world’s best lousy player, I think AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi would win the award with little argument.

Leading Scorer in all UEFA Competitons

Inzaghi is slight in stature, does not have the ability to hold the ball for long periods of time, doesn’t dribble well, yet he plays with the best players in the world and has done so for a long time. Inzaghi was a World Cup champion in 2006 and has been part of two teams that have won the UEFA Champions League, and four teams that have appeared in Europe’s Super Bowl. And now, he is the all-time leading scorer in European competitions with 63 goals, surpassing Germany’s Gerd Müller.

At times, the veteran of three World Cups can disappear for long periods of time. But it is just when you least expect him to strike that he pulls the trigger. In spite of the many flaws in Inzaghi’s game, he makes up for it in other ways. Inzaghi is maybe the smartest forward there is. He finds a way to get open, and many times he finds a way to stay onsides when a defender might think he is offsides.

Quotes by Johann Cruyff and Sir Alex Ferguson
Dutch great Johann Cruyff said in a quote taken from Inzaghi’s biography on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “Look, actually he can't play football at all. He's just always in the right position.”
One thing Inzaghi has been known for is his ability to fall quite easily, sometimes earning his team penalty kicks. But what the 34-year-old is best known for is his positioning on the field.
“Pippo Inzaghi was born in an offside position,” Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson said in quote on Inzaghi’s Wikipedia biography.
Knack for Scoring Goals

For all that Inzaghi may lack, he gives opposing defenses fear in a different way. While defenders may not have to worry about one-on-one battles with him, they must always be aware if a teammate (Andrea Pirlo, Kaka', Francesco Totti) gives him a no-look pass before he is off to the races ready to put the ball in the goal.

Inzaghi’s lone goal in the 2006 World Cup came as a result of beating the offsides trap against the Czech Republic. Inzaghi took the ball at nearly the middle of the pitch and was able to somehow get around Petr Cech and put the ball in the goal, giving Italy a two-goal advantage and the breathing room it needed to move on to the playoffs, and eventually the World Cup title.

This trade of scoring goals in an awkward way is one Inzaghi has been performing for more than a decade. After a few quality seasons in Italy’s Serie B, Inzaghi made his big breakthrough during the 1996-97 season when he was the capocannonieri, or leading scorer of Serie A for the season with 24 goals for Atalanta of Bergamo. He then moved to Juventus, where he spent four seasons with Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane, before moving to AC Milan in the summer of 2001.

Pressure Player Who Delivers

Inzaghi has scored 127 goals in his Serie A career, but just 44 of which have been for Milan. But it is in the big matches where Inzaghi has thrived. The Piacenza-born striker has found the back of the net 29 times in 49 Champions League games for the Rossoneri. He scored 12 times during the 2002-03 Champions League season, but will probably be best remembered for the two goals he scored in the 2007 Champions League final, in which AC Milan defeated Liverpool 2-1 to settle the score after losing to ‘The Reds’ in the 2005 Champions League final. Inzaghi has also scored 25 times for Italy in 57 appearances, putting him in Italy’s top 10 of all-time scorers for the national team.
I think Filippo Inzaghi is a perfect example for anyone who thinks their only chance at becoming great is by outsmarting the opponent. Keep an eye on him and you will see someone who can make the most out of what little he has.
About the Author

Mr. Riggio has written about Italian and international soccer for ESPN/Soccernet, and was an interviewee for my column at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio. After the 2006 World Cup, he contributed an interview with Gianluca Zambrotta in Los Angeles for my World Football site.

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