Juve rally around stricken Zoff
Italian champions Juventus rallied around Dino Zoff on Saturday after the former Bianconeri and Italy goalkeeping legend was hospitalised with a neurological condition that reports say has affected his ability to walk.
A report in Il Messaggero newspaper said Zoff, who won six Serie A titles with Juventus before coaching the club to the 1990 UEFA Cup, was “struck by an unspecified neurological problem which has left him with difficulty walking”.
It added that after initial fears over his condition, the 73-year Zoff was “showing signs of improvement”.
Zoff was considered among the best goalkeepers of his generation and, as captain of Italy, led the Azzurri to the World Cup in 1982 — becoming the oldest winner of the trophy at 40 years, 4 months and 13 days.
Juventus wished the goalkeeping legend a speedy recovery.
“Juventus has just learned that Dino Zoff, captain and legend of the Bianconeri and Italy teams, is suffering from health issues but that he is already improving,” said a statement.
Zoff played the bulk of his club career at Juventus from 1972-1983, where he won six Serie A titles, two Italian Cups, a UEFA Cup and reached two European Cup finals in 1973 and 1983, in the process becoming the oldest player, at 41 years and 86 days, to play in a European Cup final.
The statement added: “Dino is someone who is used to never giving up.”
After his playing career, Zoff spent two years as coach of Juventus, leading the Turin giants to an Italian Cup-UEFA Cup double in 1990.
Despite moving on to Lazio, he notably found success as coach of Italy from 1998, when he introduced many up and coming young players including Francesco Totti, Vincenzo Montella, Gianluca Zambrotta and Christian Abbiati to the national side.
Having qualified Italy for Euro 2000, Zoff’s team were only ousted in the final when David Trezeguet, who had just signed for Juventus, hit a golden goal in extra-time to hand then world champions France the title.
Despite Italy’s achievement, Zoff resigned days after the final following a barrage of criticism from AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi.