There are still several months before the Italian under 21 squad is announced. Excitement regarding the 2017 edition of the European under 21 should be extremely high.
Italian coach Luigi Di Biagio, has wide ranging, high-quality talent at his disposal. Di Biagio, the man at the helm of what promises to be a stepping stone, for a new crop of youngsters, who are seen as a possible generational change for a national team, desperate for success.
First and foremost, why is this age category and their development, so important for the Italians at all? One simple answer: The historical triumphs that have come about from these formations and what resulted in the respective careers going forward.
From 1992 to 2004 the Italian teams, established near total dominance of the European under 21 football, winning five of the seven tournaments. The intriguing aspect of all those squads could easily be the names found in each winning roster.
The 1994 squad boasted players such as Francesco Toldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Filippo Inzaghi and Christian Vieri.
The 1996 roster included players the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, once again Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, and Francesco Totti.
The year 2000 group comprised of players who were Gennaro Gattuso, Simone Perrotta and Andrea Pirlo.
The 2004 team included players Marco Amelia, Cristian Zaccardo, Daniele De Rossi, Alberto Gilardino and Andrea Barzagli.
What can be noted from above, are the names that saw themselves as integral elements in the victorious World Cup of 2006. It can also be noted the names involved in the near victorious euro cup of 2000. Had only luck been on their side.
The experience of winning a prestigious trophy, on an international level, for their nation at such a tender age, created a winning atmosphere from most of these players.
It requires a multitude of factors, such as, moments, decisions, talent, and to some extent luck, for success to come about. What should not be forgotten is, winning brings about winning. Tasting victory is far sweeter than defeat. Using winners, assembled as they were in 2006, lead to the legendary victory in the World Cup. 13 of the 23 players involved in the 2006 world cup, not only participated, but won an Euro Under 21 championship.
The current situation at the U-21 level seems to be very promising in regards to the quality of the youth being produced by Italian clubs. What maybe is even more important, is the seriousness that we should accord to this championship, and better yet the FIGC as a whole. Considering that winning today should lead to an atmosphere of winning, one that is necessary as one of the parts needed to win the biggest prize of them all, a few years from now.