Demetrio Albertini enjoys a legendary status amongst those who watched AC Milan and the Italian national team in the 90s, but the midfielder’s remarkable talent isn’t widely recognized outside of that sphere. As a ball-winning midfielder that orchestrated play from deep, Albertini doesn’t have a massive highlight reel with regards to goals, although he did score a number of long-range screamers and some gorgeous free kicks.
Also, Albertini’s reputation has somewhat been usurped by his heir for both Milan and Italy, Andrea Pirlo. The two shared a number of qualities, most notably their extreme range of passing, composure and world-class technique.
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Wearing the number four shirt for Milan, Albertini was his side’s metronome in midfield. His style was Milan’s, and that translated into five Serie A titles and the club’s historic 4-0 demolition of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League Final. Albertini dominated one Pep Guardiola in the midfield on the night.
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During this period, Albertini was also a regular for Italy. Alongside Roberto Donadoni and Dino Baggio in the Italian midfield, Albertini played a vital role in getting his nation to the final of the 1994 World Cup. Albertini and Alberigo Evani were the only Italian’s to convert their penalties in the defeat to Brazil.
Albertini would also play a key role in leading Italy to the final of Euro 2000, making the UEFA Team of the Tournament but ultimately losing to France in the final.
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Albertini would leave Milan following the 2002 season and turnout briefly for Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Atalanta. He finished his career with Barcelona in 2005 after transferring to the club in the January window. Although he only appeared in six matches for the club, he still collected a La Liga winners’ medal in his final professional season.