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Meazza

Italy

Full name: Giuseppe Meazza
Date of birth: 23/08/1910
Position: Forward
International caps: 53
International goals: 33
World Cups: 1934 - Champions
1938 - Champions
Clubs: Inter Milan
AC Milan
Juventus
Atalanta
Inter Milan
1927-1940
1940-1941
1942-1943
1945-1946
1946-1947

Giuseppe Meazza was Italian football's first real superstar. Nicknamed "Peppino", he was a graceful centre forward, always without a single brylcreemed hair out of place.

Giuseppe Meazza

Meazza made his Inter Milan debut at the age of 17. In his first season he scored 38 goals in 29 matches in the region league. In his second season (1928-1929) and the first season of the new Serie A, he scored 33 goals and in the following season he was the Italian league's highest goalscorer. He repeated this feat in two other seasons in his career, giving him a total of 355 senior goals, in around 500 games, including 262 goals in 443 Serie A games - still the third highest number ever.

On his international debut against Switzerland in 1930, he scored twice, and he was a virtual ever-present until 1939. Vittorio Pozzo, the Italy coach, moved Meazza from his club role as a centre forward to an inside forward (left side), which helped him take a leading role in the team. Meazza scored a hat-trick to help Italy win the Dr Gero Cup (the forerunner to the European Championship) later that year.

In 1934, he was one of only a handful of home-grown talents in an Italian World Cup squad full of players born in South America. When queried on this, the coach said that if the South Americans could die for Italy (as they were eligible for national service), they could play football for the country, and FIFA turned a blind eye. Meazza set up and scored many of Italy's goals in the 1934 World Cup tournament, including a crucial headed goal in the quarter final replay against Spain, to give Italy a 1-0 win. Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final to win the trophy in Rome.

Meazza in action

Meazza was part of the 1936 Olympic championship winning team, which led to him becoming the captain of the Italy team in the 1938 World Cup in France. He was only one of two players remaining from the 1934 tournament and one of five who won the Olympics. The team also had a more Italian flavour, abandoning all but one of the South Americans. The Italians beat Norway after extra time and cruised past France in the quarter finals. Meazza scored a penalty to help beat the Brazilians 2-1 in the semi final. Italy then went on to gain a 4-2 victory over Hungary in the the final and Meazza won his second World Cup in a row, receiving the trophy, in front of Mussolini, with a Fascist salute.

Meazza was the only Italian player to play in all nine of the country's pre-war World Cup games (Italy, along with several other top European countries, refused to travel to Uruguay in 1930), as well as the Olymipics and several Central European International Cups.

Shortly after the 1938 World Cup, Meazza suffered an injury which put him out of action for most of the 1938-1939 season. At the end of 1939, he moved to city rivals AC Milan, and scored 9 goals in over 30 appearances. During the war, he guested for Juventus, before moving to Atalanta for one season in 1945, scoring 16 goals in 30 games. He then became manager of Inter Milan, occasionally playing his part on the pitch as well. Meazza died in 1979, aged 69. In a reflection of his importance to Italian football, the grand stadium in Milan (the "San Siro", used by both AC and Inter) is officially named Stadio Guiseppe Meazza.