Claudio Gentile (born 27 September 1953) was a legendary Italian footballer of the 1970's and 1980's. One of the toughest and roughest defenders in the history of the game, Gentile was a key part of both the world cup winning Italy team of 1982, and the all conquering Juventus club side of the late seventies and early eighties.
Gentile started his career as a full back but soon switched to the role of central defence after signing for Juventus FC in 1973. In over a decade in Turin, Gentile won two major european club competitions, six scudettos, and two italian cups. During this time he also earnt 71 caps for Italy. In 1984 he moved to Fiorentina where he spent three further years in Serie A, before retiring from football in 1988 after playing one further season for Serie B side Piacenza.
Gentile's finest hour came on July 11th 1982 when he produced an immaculate defensive display alongside fellow Italian great Gaetano Scirea, as Italy defeated West Germany 3-1 to lift the 1982 World Cup in Spain. It was during this tournament that the legend of Gentile's fearsome reputation as a hard-man was higlighted. In the 2nd phase match against holders Argentina he infamously man-marked Diego Maradona out of the game by kicking and flooring the Argentine star constantly throughout the game. In Italy's next match against favourites Brazil he more than lived up to his terrifying reputation by first performing an x-rated tackle from behind on Zico before later ripping the number 10's shirt in half during a tussle.
There are many humorous stories involving Gentile within the footballing world. One is that during the Ballon d'Or (European Footballer of the Year) awards ceremony in the late 1970's English centre forward Kevin Keegan was announced as the winner. As Keegan walked towards the host to collect his award he passed the seat where Gentile was sitting. As Keegan walked past Gentile is reported to have stuck out his foot and tripped up Keegan. As Keegan was getting to his feet Gentile reputedly whispered into his ear, "You wouldn't have won any award if i had been marking you".
Gentile currently coaches the Italy Under-21 National Team, a position he has held since October 2000. He had a well-publicised falling out with Antonio Cassano whilst the Real Madrid player was eligible to play for his team. However his stint has been a successfull one and his coaching career appears to be heading in the same direction as his playing career once did.