The squad

All-star squad

Shirt number 23 Italian flag



Full name: Dino Zoff
Date of birth: 28/02/1942
Position: Goalkeeper
International caps: 112
World Cups: 1970 - Runners-up
1974 - First Round
1978 - Second Round
1982 - Champions
Clubs: Udinese

Dino Zoff's career started slowly, as at the age of 14, he was rejected by both Internazionale and Juventus for his lack of height. Zoff's father had taught him the importance of education and work, with a tough work ethic born in the fields, so he became a mechanic while playing for his local village team. He combined an overall athletic talent with a technique that was at first merely raw. However, through exceptionally hard work on his game in general, he demonstrated that top-class footballers, if not born, could be made. He trained tirelessly, even when he was playing beyond the age of 40. Five years after his rejections, and having grown an extra foot, he was signed professionally by Udinese. He made only four senior appearances for the club (including a game in which he conceded 5 goals) and with the prospect of Serie B football after relegation, Zoff transferred to Mantova in 1963. After four seasons, including a relgation and an immediate promotion in 1966, Zoff finally moved to a club giant when he transferred to Napoli in 1968.

That year also saw Zoff's intorduction into the Italian national side, when he played against Bulgaria in the final qualifying game for the 1968 European Championships. They won that game, and preceded to win the four team tournament held in Italy, albeit by a coin toss in the semi-final after a 0-0 draw (pre penalty shootouts) and a reply in the final. Still, Zoff had an international winner's medal after just four games, and had conceded only one goal.

Zoff in action

For the World Cup in 1970 Zoff had to be content as substitute to Enrico Albertosi, and watched the Azzurri lose in the final. Although Zoff was an established star, he had lacked trophies at Napoli, and the legend of Dino Zoff was only really born when he transferred to Juventus in 1972 at the age of 30.

He was a central figure in a full decade of success for Giovanni Trapattoni's side, which included other luminaries such as Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli, Roberto Bettega, and later Paolo Rossi and Michel Platini. In eleven years with the Turin club, Zoff won the Serie A championship six times (1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982), the Coppa Italia twice (1979, 1983) and the UEFA cup in 1977. Juventus also made the final of the European cup twice in this period, but lost to Ajax in 1973 and Hamburg in 1983, both by 1-0. Zoff also established a number of incredible records: he played in 332 consecutive games for the club (11 years without a missed match) and lasted 903 minutes without conceding a goal.

For Italy, this period also started with a record: 1143 minutes without conceding in an international match from 1972-1974 - a feat which took him to the cover of Newsweek. The sequence was ended in the first game of the group stage of the 1974 World Cup in West Germany - a 3-1 victory over Haiti. A 1-1 draw with Argentina and a 2-1 defeat to Poland in the remaining two games saw Italy knocked out on goal difference. In the Argentinian World Cup in 1978, Italy went one better by reaching the second round group stage, where they qualified for the third-place playoff, which they subsequently lost to Brazil 2-1. However, Zoff received flak from critics who suggested he was slowing down (having conceded 6 goals in the 7 games).

Zoff lifts the World Cup

Dino Zoff's greatest stage was the 1982 World Cup in Spain. At the age of 40, he was captain of Italy. They scraped through the first round group stage with a few shaky displays, but then beat reigning world champions Argentina 2-1 in the first game in the second group stage. Needing to beat Brazil in the crucial group game, and 3-2 up with minutes to go, Zoff pulled off a spectacular save from Paulo Isidoro's header to send Italy to the final. After victory over Poland in the semis, Italy defeated West Germany 3-1 and Zoff held the trophy aloft with a smile.

Zoff retired from playing at the end of the subsequent season, on a bitter sweet note of winning the Coppa Italia, but losing the European Cup final. He went on to become coach of the Italian Olympic football team for the Seoul games of 1988. He was a member of the technical staff at Juventus since retiring, but was appointed as coach in 1988. However, despite victory in the UEFA Cup he was sacked i 1990, whereupon he joined Lazio as coach, moving to president in 1994. 1998 saw Zoff appointed coach of the Italian national team. With a more attacking style than usual for an Italian side, he led Italy to the Euro 2000 final, where they suffered a cruel extra time defeat at the hands of France. Italy led 1-0 until the 90th minute of normal time, where France scored an equaliser to force extra time. Trezeguet scored the golden goal winner in the 103rd minute. A few days later Zoff resigned from the position following criticism from AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi. Zoff has since briefly returned to Lazio and managed Fiorentina.

With 112 caps Zoff is second only to Paolo Maldini in number of appearances for Italy, and in his 22-year playing career he played in 570 Serie A matches.