Not a top rated Striker. Not a skillful player. And not a fast runner. But every football fanatic in this world will know him. Why is he known as "Super Pippo" among the fans. Why Filippo Inzaghi matters to the world of football? Why?
Early Football Career: "Not a famous young striker."
Pippo's football career did not begin like some other world class players who were labeled as wonderkids when they were young. Pippo started from below and rose slowly. Pippo started his career as a footballer playing for his hometown Piacenza. But an 18 year old Pippo could not convince his Piacenza manager where he just got 3 appearances and still could not produce his first professional goal. Then he was loaned out by Piacenza to gain experience and the young Pippo showed superb skills helping Leffe with 13 goals in 21 appearances in a season followed by helping Verona with 14 goals in 37 appearances the next year.
He was recalled to Piacenza to show what he had learned in his 2 years and proved his worth by scoring 17 goals in 41 appearances, which helped his hometown club to a sweet promotion to Serie A. The 21 year old Pippo then caught the attention of Parma legendary coach Nevio Scala to begin his Serie A experience alongside a young Gianluigi Buffon and a young Fabio Cannavaro. But, as a Parma striker, Pippo did not have much play time as he had to compete with stars like Gianfranco Zola and Hristo Stoichkov. Pippo appeared in 22 games and scored just 4 goals in one season with Parma.
Atalanta: "His name is Filippo Inzaghi and he is a striker."
1997 was the starting point of his glorious era. Pippo signed a contract with Atalanta that made him a very big signing in the history of Atalanta football. And 24 goals in 33 league appearances in repayment was enough for him to claim the Serie A top scorer award. The best part is, Pippo scored against all teams in the league, perhaps a sign that a football legend was about to rise. His name was now in every Italian football fan's and coaches lips, including Juventus and Azzurri head coaches.
Juventus: "A world class striker he is."
Joining a top team like Juventus, Pippo became well known by football fans around the globe by playing a great footballl alongside legends like Zinedine Zidane and Del Piero in the attack. The biggest highlight of his Juventus era was scoring a hattrick against Bologna to secure the 1997-98 Scudetto for the Old Lady. In addition to this, Pippo scored two Champions League hattricks against Dinamo Kiev and Hamburger SV to make him the first player in the world to score two hattricks in a single Champions League season. He also helped Juventus to the Champions League final but they lost to Real Madrid. In his 4 seasons with Juventus, Pippo appeared in 165 games and scored 89 goals in all competitions.
AC Milan: "Super Pippo is a legend."
At the age of 28, Pippo moved to AC Milan after his place in Juventus starting XI became doubtful with the arrival of French poacher David Trezeguet. His serious knee injury caused concern in settling into his new club, as most of football critics claimed that it was the end of Pippo. But Pippo never give up to revive his career after half a season being out injured. He returned from injury and immediately demonstrated his class playing with Andriy Shevchenko in the front. Every season, some fans and critics expected a retirement from Pippo as he was too old to play for a big club like Milan. But Pippo proved them wrong, season after season. After the departure of Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo then showed incredible understanding with Milan's genius playmaker Kaka, enabling him to score twice in the 2007 Champions League final against Liverpool, which made him the man of the match of that final and secure Milan's 7th Champions League trophy.
But then after Kaka left the club to join Real Madrid, Pippo's career seemed like comig to an end. Under head coaches Leonardo and Allegri, Pippo became just a backup player. Then with the arrival of powerful striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the club and another injury setback, Pippo did not have much time playing in Milan starting line up. In 2011, Pippo's name was not included by Allegri in Milan's Champions League squad which made the 38 year old Pippo announce his desire to leave the club at the end of the season. Below are the highlights of Pippo in his AC Milan career. Pippo had made 300 appearances with Milan scoring 126 goals.
- Scored twice in Champions League final 2007 against Liverpool and claimed the man of the match of that final.
- Scored twice against Boca Juniors in World Club Cup final which made him the first striker in the world to score in all international club competitions.
- With 10 hat tricks, Pippo become the player with most hattricks in Serie A ahead of players like Crespo(8), Roberto Baggio, Marco Van Basten, Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella (7).
- Broke the record of his idol Marco Van Basten as Milan's all time top goalscorer with 126 goals for the club.
- Scored a winning goal against Novara in his last game with Milan at 38.
European and International Records
- With 70 goals in European competitions, Pippo is second behind legendary Real Madrid Striker Raul as the all time European top goalscorer ahead Sheva, Henry and Nistelrooy.
- Scored against Czech Republic in World Cup 2006 to make him the oldest player to have scored in history of Italy.
- 57 Appearances with Italy scoring 25 goals.
What is so special about Pippo?
Pippo is magic. A miracle to Italian football. He has a high composure, high agility with a great finishing technique that not all strikers nowadays have. A real and old style poacher. He is not as fast as Cristiano Ronaldo nor as tough as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Not a skillfull player like Lionel Messi nor powerful like Thiery Henry but he will do anything he can possibly do to find a goal. He does not give away any chances he got. His passion as a striker makes him feel the vision to put the ball in the net in whatever situation. You can see no one will be happier than Inzaghi when he scores a goal. A truly passionate striker who celebrates all his goals like it was the first time he scored in his career.
The main thing about Pippo is that he is so focused about his positioning. If you are a Pippo or a Rossoneri fan, you can see how focused he is whenever he plays. Pippo also proved to the world that age, speed, skill, body, height and weight is not a main criteria to become a world class player. The main things is Passion and Experience throughout your career. That is what Super Pippo is all about. He never gave up. At the age of 39 next season, he is still trying to find a new club to play to continue his legacy. Below were some famous and selected quotes of people talking about Pippo.
"That lad must have been born offside." - Sir Alex Ferguson
"The only player I fear." - Jose Mourinho (Speaking after a shocked comeback made by Pippo. Real Madrid leads with 2 goals against Milan but Pippo who came up in late of the game from bench made the equalizer by scoring twice.)
"If you pass him the right ball, he will score." - David Beckham
"A person if you need a goal." - Youtube Top Comment
"He knows the smell of the goals. Thats his skill." - Youtube Top Comment.