Elite footballers are often creations borne out of their national identity and in Del Piero, who was born on this day 42 years ago, this statement holds true.
The deep-lying forward was a pure aesthete, stylishly picking his way through defences during a career which included lifting the 2006 World Cup with Italy and making a club record 705 appearances with Juventus from 1993-2012. The nickname ‘Pinturicchio’ after the Italian Renaissance painter fitted perfectly.
His close control, awareness of space and ability at dead balls made him stand out as one of the premier talents of his generation. At Juve, he won six Serie A titles, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup among many others. He would go on to play for Sydney FC and Delhi Dynamos, before finally retiring two years ago.
More sport star birthdays on this day:
1948: Luiz Felipe Scolari, current coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, who led Brazil to 2002 World Cup glory (68).
1960: Andreas Brehme, ex-footballer who scored West Germany’s winning goal in the 1990 World Cup final (56).
1970: Bill Guerin, winner of two Stanley Cups and current assistant general manager of Pittsburgh in the NHL (46).
1971: David Duval, American former world number one golfer, won the Open Championship in 2001 (45).