Italians play football the same way we love to play online games and slots. We are dazzled by the flash and flair but ultimately we know they play with strategic intelligence. Italy’s footballers are known for style and class and as four-time World Cup winners, they are no slouches on the biggest stage. It is not surprising then to know that there have been some greats of the game in the English top flight. The EPL is arguably the most prestigious and competitive soccer league in the world – and the best players want to play for the best teams. Here we guide you through some of the greats of the Italian game who graced the grass of Britain.
Zola stands out as one of the greatest Italians to play in the EPL. He showed his brilliance for Chelsea, scoring 59 goals and 42 assists in his time with the club.
He continues his time on British grass, as he began his managerial career with West Ham United. He was then the manager of Watford before becoming assistant to Maurizio Sarru at Chelsea before leaving when Lampard became the Head Coach.
Such is his service to English football, he was made an OBE in the Queen’s honour list.
However, he will always be known as one of the best Italian creative forwards of all time and one of the best players that Chelsea ever saw.
Roberto Di Matteo
Another Chelsea great also happens to come from Italy. Di Matteo was one of the best midfielders the club has ever seen. While Di Matteo was born in Switzerland, his parents were Italian and he was capped 34 times for the country.
When he took the pitch for Chelsea in 1996 he managed to score the winning goal. This success was an omen for his time at the club, as he was a keystone player in the centre of the park. With his help, Chelsea returned to Europe.
Roberto Di Matteo, like Zola, continued his career by managing on English soil. He began his career at Milton Keyne Dons and continued on to West Brom and Chelsea.
Paolo Di Canio
While Chelsea fans are going to be delighted with this list so far, many West Ham fans would argue that Paolo Di Canio is the greatest Italian to play on British grass. Indeed, if you take a look at the stats, Di Canio throws Zola and Di Matteo into the shade. With 190 performances in the EPL, Di Canio has scored 66 goals and made 40 assists – topping the list for all Italians.
Di Canio may have been a legend at West Ham, he also played for Celtic in the SPL and Sheffield Wednesday, when they enjoyed a spell in the top flight. Harry Redknap signed an ageing Di Canio to the club after a ban from football because, `He can do things with the ball that people can only dream of.” Such was his talent that in 2001 – 2, Sir ALex Ferguson attempted to sign him for Manchester United, but Di Canio was now committed to the Hammers.
Lesser known Italian, Bernito Carbone, was certainly committed to playing on British grass. Over his career he played for five different clubs in the Premier League. While someone who moves between teams is often thought to be a problem player, he was still considered talented enough to be signed for Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Bradford City, Derby County and Middlesbrough FC. He also had spells at great clubs such as Torino and Napoli.
However, Carbone was never chosen for the senior Italian team and has a patchy career. While he may have committed to live in the EPL, he never really made it to the heights of football – and should be considered good as opposed to great.
Another Italian player that loved football in Britain was Gianluca Vialli. His great years were played at first Sampdoria and then Juventus. He was undoubtedly a superstar of the game with his 59 appearances for the Italian international team.
He came to the EPL on a free transfer. He came to Chelsea as Ruud Gullit attempted to rebuild the great team. Vialli made an impact, as his goals helped to secure the FA Cup in his first season.
Like fellow Italians, he progressed on to manage the club he played for. He also had a spell as manager of Watford.