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Giorgio Chiellini’s iconic moments for Juventus and Italy

A stalwart centre-back with bundles of passion - it’s hardly a shock that Chiellini has become an iconic captain for club and country.

With over 400 caps for Juventus, and upwards of 100 for his nation, Giorgio Chiellini has added his name to a revered list of legendary Italian defenders.

After humble beginnings in Italy's third division with Livorno, Chiellini had stints at both Roma and Fiorentina before signing for Juventus in 2005.

Now 16 years on, Chiellini continues to be a pivotal figure in the Juve squad, and has captained the side since 2018 following the departure of compatriot Gianluigi Buffon.

Chiellini also took the armband from Buffon on the international stage after his retirement in 2018. 

Now aged 36, Chiellini has added to a host of iconic moments by lifting the Henri Delaunay for his country at Wembley.

The Calciopoli scandal

After making a permanent move to Juventus, Chiellini's first assignment with the Old Lady was to defend their title following their 2004/05 success.

Under Fabio Capello, Chiellini immediately became a regular starter in his debut season, making 23 appearances as the side went on to defend their title, suffering just one loss during the campaign.

But Chiellini's first taste of silverware was cut short, after a series of telephone interceptions showed relations between team managers and referee organisations.

The match-fixing scandal was coined Calciopoli, which roughly translates in English to "footballgate", in reference to the political 'Watergate' scandal.

As a result, just months after their title win, the Italian Football Federation excluded Juventus from Serie A, demoting them to Italy's second tier complete with a six-point deduction.

Additionally, Juventus were stripped of both their 2004/05 title as well as their 2005/06 success which was instead handed to second- placed Inter Milan.

After initially being crowned a domestic champion, Chiellini now found himself as a centre-back for a Serie B club.
While in Serie B, Chiellini remained a regular starter at left-back for Juventus, and he helped his side stroll to promotion despite the points deduction, conceding only 30 goals in 42 matches.
Towards the business end of the season, Chiellini scored twice against Arezzo in a 5-1 drubbing, a result that mathematically secured Juventus' promotion.

Nine consecutive Scudettos

Upon their return to Serie A, Juventus struggled to immediately reassert themselves at the top end of the table, and Inter Milan became the dominant force in Italy, winning five consecutive league titles between 2005 and 2010.

In 2011, Antonio Conte took the reins as Juventus manager, and transitioned Chiellini into a centre-back, a move that turned out to be a masterstroke.

Juventus returned to winning ways in 2011/12, pipping rivals AC Milan to the title by four points, all without losing a single game throughout the season.

Under Conte, Chiellini became a pivotal member of the squad, and Juventus began a period of domestic dominance, winning three consecutive titles under the Italian.
In Conte's final season at the club, Chiellini scored the winner in a 3-2 victory over AC Milan, before announcing a contract renewal the following day which extended his stay until 2017.
Now re-established as Italy's top team, Juventus went from strength to strength, and continued to dominate Serie A, winning a further six consecutive Scudettos between 2014 and 2020.

In that time, Chiellini took over as Juve captain from Gianluigi Buffon and won a plethora of other major honours, including five Coppa Italia titles, and four Supercoppa Italiana medals.

Juventus' hot streak came to an end in the 2020/21 season, with Inter Milan claiming the crown and the Old Lady only just scraping a Champions League place.

BBC partnership

Chiellini, Bonucci, Italy, Euro 2020

A major component of Juventus' success in the 2010s was Chiellini's commanding aura at the heart of the defence.

Over his 16 years at the club, Chiellini has played at both left-back and centre-back and has been part of a countless number of defensive partnerships.

But none have eclipsed his iconic relationship with Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, which was appropriately named 'BBC' in reference to their initials.

After originally fielding Chiellini as a left-back to accommodate the partnership of Bonucci and Barzagli in defence, Conte decided in 2011/12 to instead shift to a three-at-the-back formation, and field the trio collectively.
They quickly became one of the best defences in world soccer, and were a large factor in Juventus' return to silverware.

Barzagli retired in 2019 after an eight-year spell with Juventus, but Bonucci and Chiellini continue to partner one another at Juventus - a relationship that has also translated to the international stage.

Speaking of the formidable partnership, Chiellini jokingly said: "I think I know Bonucci better than I know my wife."

Euro 2012

After rising through the ranks of Italy's youth teams, Chiellini's first taste of senior international soccer was at Euro 2008, where he took the place of injured captain Fabio Cannovaro.

Despite an impressive performance against Spain in the quarter-finals, Italy were subsequently knocked out via penalty shootout.

In the 2010 World Cup, Chiellini was once again a starter, this time alongside Cannovaro, but Italy bowed out in disappointing fashion after finishing bottom of their group.

Chiellini was again called up to Euro 2012, and was a starter for the Azzurri along with Juventus team-mates, Barzagli and Bonucci.

Often struggling with injury, Chiellini missed Italy's quarter-final clash with England, but managed to return to fitness for the 2-1 victory over Germany in the semi-final.

While still carrying injuries, Chiellini started in the final against Spain, aiming to avenge Italy's 2008 quarter-final defeat.

But in a hugely one-sided affair, Italy suffered a 4-0 loss, with Spain's first coming from a Chiellini mistake.

Champions League heartbreak

With an array of domestic titles in his trophy cabinet, the one prize missing for both Chiellini and Juventus is the coveted Champions League trophy.

In the 2014/15 season, Chiellini and Juventus enjoyed a successful Champions League campaign, qualifying second in their group behind Atletico Madrid, before beating Borussia Dortmund and Monaco in the knockout rounds.

A 3-2 aggregate win in the semi-finals against Real Madrid set up a grand finale against Lionel Messi's Barcelona, but unfortunately for Chiellini, an injury just two days before the final ruled him out of the clash.

In his absence, Juventus went on to lose 3-1 thanks to goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, and Neymar.

With the trophy still alluding him, Chiellini had to wait just two more years to get another shot at the prize, this time facing Real Madrid in the 2017 final.
Chiellini was declared fit to start, and was part of an all-Italian defence including Bonucci and Barzagli.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after just 20 minutes, but Juventus replied in style, levelling the tie via Mario Mandzukic's acrobatic finish.

After entering half-time with the scores level, Real Madrid went on to dominate the second half, regaining the lead through Casemiro before Ronaldo added his second of the night.

Marco Asensio rubbed salt into the wounds in the final minute of play to doom Juventus to a 4-1 defeat and back-to-back Champions League final defeats.

After losing to Spain in Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, followed by two defeats to Spanish sides in Champions League finals, we can confidently assume that Chiellini won't be booking a summer break to Spain anytime soon.

Euro 2020 success

Following their shortcomings in Euro 2008 and 2012, and their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Chiellini and Italy entered Euro 2020 looking to return the Azzurri to former glory.

With Roberto Mancini at the helm and Chiellini as captain, Italy managed to rebuild and are currently enjoying a 34-match unbeaten run.

After qualifying for Euro 2020 with a perfect record, Italy carried their form into the tournament itself, becoming the only side to qualify from the group stages with three wins and no goals conceded.

Chiellini started in both group matches against Turkey and Switzerland, and had a goal chalked off against the latter for a handball in the build-up.

After a slight injury ruled him out of the game against Wales and the round-of-16 clash against Austria, Chiellini returned for the quarter-final tie against Belgium, where goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne secured a 2-1 win.

Italy's quarter-final victory set up a clash against their nemesis-nation, Spain, but Mancini's side struck the first blow through Federico Chiesa, before Alvaro Morata equalised with 10 minutes to go.

With the sides still level after extra time, a penalty shootout was required to decide the winner. Jorginho's penalty secured the win after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Morata's penalty, but more importantly - Chiellini finally beat Spain.

After overcoming Spain, Chiellini and Italy put their 2012 heartbreak behind them and beat England on penalties in the final. Luke Shaw opened the scoring just minutes into the tie before Bonucci equalised from a corner in the second half.

With the match locked at 1-1, the sides entered a penalty shootout. Chiellini himself wasn't chosen to take a spot-kick, but a miss from Marcus Rashford followed by two superb saves from Donnarumma against Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka handed the Azzurri the title.

READ MORE: Five classic Italy vs England matches to remember ahead of Euro 2020 final

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