Lippi made right call to omit Grosso
In the space of four short years, Fabio Grosso has gone from hero to also-ran.
Grosso was cut Tuesday from Italy's 30-man preliminary World Cup squad in a move that caught a lot of folks off-guard, driving home the point how far the Juventus left-back has fallen in such a short period of time.
Grosso, 32, was a pivotal player for Italy four years ago, scoring the winning goal in extra time against Germany in an epic semifinal match, and then the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shootout against France in the final.
Starred at 2006 World Cup
Not much was known about Grosso before the 2006 World Cup. The former Palermo star was flying under the radar ahead of the tournament, with the international media focusing more on Italian teammates Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta.
But those of us watched Italian soccer closely were well aware of Grosso's exploits, and were not all surprised when he emerged as one of Italy's best players in Germany - he was by al accounts, one of the best left backs in the world at the time.
So, how and why did things turn so sour for the Rome-born defender after reaching startling heights in Berlin?
It started a few months after the World Cup when he moved to Inter Milan. Grosso never really caught on with the Nerazzurri, as Inter limited his playing time and never really gave him an opportunity to prove himself.
Grosso could clearly see the writing on the wall, so he left Inter after just one season and moved to France, signing with Olympique Lyon. A solid debut campaign was followed by an injury-plagued season that saw him make just 22 league appearances and his stock plummet.
A transfer move to Juventus followed last August with many hoping that Grosso would re-discover his old form in Turin.
Poor season at Juventus
It didn't pan out that way, though. Grosso was a regular starter in what can charitably be described as a leaky Juventus back line that conceded a whopping 56 goals - three more than relegated Atalanta - as the Bianconeri stumbled to a seventh-place finish in Serie A.
His poor form for Juventus didn't escape the attention of Italian national team manager Marcello Lippi, under whom Grosso has been Italy's regular starting left-back.
Grosso might have been a loyal servant for the Azzurri over the past five years, including in the recent World Cup qualifying campaign, but it's obvious from his troubled season in Turin that his best days are behind him and doesn't deserve to go to South Africa.
Kudos to Lippi for recognizing that and not being blindly loyal to someone who helped him win the World Cup four years ago.
"I don't pick players in lieu of past service and that was also the case for [Simone] Perrotta and [Luca] Toni," Lippi said at a press conference.
"I called [Grosso] ... and you cannot imagine how much I dislike doing that. But I have to do it and I do it out of honesty. It hurt me just as it hurt me for the other 14 [World Cup winners] with whom we had some great moments in Germany."
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBCSports.ca whose chief love is soccer.
John served as senior editor of CBC's 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup website and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. His work on CBC Sports Online's Euro 2004 site earned him a CBC.ca Award of Excellence.
He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College.