Serie A will witness a drastic haul once the 2012-13 season begins with legendary players such as Alessandro Del Piero and Alessandro Nesta destined to leave the peninsula. There are a number of other players who made some major contributions throughout their career who will either retire or move outside Italy. Below is a list of the key players who defined the Italian top flight with their skills and presence for over a decade:
1) Del Piero: The former Juventus captain is a symbol of the club and his loyalty showed when he stuck with the Bianconeri despite the imposed relegation to Serie B around six years ago. Del Piero leaves Juve as the club’s all-time leading scorer as well as the player with most appearances in a Bianconeri shirt. The former World Cup winner has won every possible trophy with Juve and will be forever remembered as one of the pillars of the great 1990s side. Del Piero might head to England or the United States.
2) Nesta: The former Lazio and Milan defender has been among the best defenders in Italy and the world for over a decade. At his peak he was often tasked with nullifying the threat posed by the best attackers on the opposing team. Nesta is a World Cup winner, despite an unfortunate campaign on the personal level due to injury which sidelined him from the latter stages of the tournament, and he won the Champions League on two occasions.
Nesta won Serie A once with Lazio and added another two league titles with Milan. Nesta will go down as one of the best defenders not just over the last two decades but also in the history of the Italian game. Nesta will likely play one more season with the United States as a potential destination.
3) Filippo Inzaghi: The striker also known as Pippo was renowned for tormenting defenders with his clinical finishing. Inzaghi often frustrated fans and foes alike with his positioning as he either beat the offside trap to score or was halted by a referee’s whistle for being offside. Inzaghi holds a number of records such as being Milan’s leading scorer in international competitions and has the Serie A record of 10 hat-tricks as well as the Champions League record with 3 hat-tricks (tied with Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Englishman Michael Owen).
Inzaghi was part of Italy’s World Cup winning squad in 2006 and has won Serie A with both Juventus and Milan. He also scored the winning double in the Champions League final in 2007 against Liverpool. Inzaghi is expected to retire despite some rumors linking him with a move to the United States to join an MLS team.
4) Gennaro Gattuso: The tough tackling midfielder was a crucial component of Italy’s 2006 triumph in Germany. Gattuso’s fight spirit and determination have defined his game for over a decade and have helped both Milan and the Azzurri to achieve success. Gattuso won the Champions League twice and has a number of other titles. He said he is taking a year off before he decides whether he will make a comeback. It is unlikely that Gattuso would play again if he indeed skips this season.
There are a number of other elderly statesmen who are either departing from the peninsula or will be retiring. Milan’s Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf will be the fourth Rossoneri veteran to leave the club following a long and successful spell with the club. Despite his short stint with the Rossoneri, Mark van Bommel will also be another veteran player who will be leaving Milan. There is no doubt that Milan will be witnessing the biggest overhaul due to the exit of at least five veteran players who had a key role over the years.
With Del Piero leaving Juve as well, the Italian league will usher the near closure of the old guard’s exploits with perhaps only Roma’s legendary skipper Francesco Totti remaining from the peninsula’s golden generation which achieved glory on the domestic, European and world fronts.
Perhaps Totti summed up best when he admitted he was getting emotional following the Rossoneri supporters tearful goodbye to some of the club’s veterans as well as Juve’s split with Del Piero.