Yesterday Italy was eliminated from the World Cup. The match against Slovakia was the worst match our team has ever played. The Azzurri, World Champions, could not pass the ball. They were afraid of Slovakia like it was some sort of Eastern European Brazil. The heroes of 2006 – Cannavaro, Gattuso, Camoranesi – where shadows of their former selves.
I remember seeing the 2006 World Champions in their Via del Corso triumph, on the way to the Circus Maximus. Cannavaro was holding the World Cup, showing it to the unbelieving crowd. Lippi was smiling and smoking a cigar, the picture of the happiest coach in the world. My son was on my shoulders, as happy as he could be. My parents a few steps behind me. I felt joyous and carefree and, like the Azzurri, on top of the world. No matter how badly it ended yesterday, nothing will ever replace these feelings. Grazie Azzurri!