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Calafiori and the Italian defenders aesthetics

Estetica Y2K and early interventions, the Bologna center is one of the first choices for Euro2024

Calafiori and the Italian defenders aesthetics Estetica Y2K and early interventions, the Bologna center is one of the first choices for Euro2024

It was October 22, 2021 when AS Roma faced Bodø/Glimt in Norway, sinking under the blows of the uncontrollable Ola Solbakken and Erik Botheim, in what will remain as Mourinho's worst defeat. A 6-1 defeat that led the Portuguese coach to purge practically all the players on the pitch, left on the sidelines of the Giallorossi club for the rest of the season. One of these players was Riccardo Calafiori, who returned to the field after a long injury suffered in the Youth League and was immediately deemed unsuitable for this level. The talent, raised in the Roman house, was soon discarded by the club, first sent for six months to a Genoa team in full relegation battle and then sold for a few pennies to Basel in Switzerland. A surprise move that seemed to mark the end of his career at the highest levels before it even began.

Now Riccardo Calafiori is a starter for the Italian National Team at Euro2024, one of the most pleasant surprises of Thiago Motta's Bologna and the summer desire of most of the big teams in Italian and European football. In the meantime, he has also changed his position, moving from the wing to the center of defense, thus overcoming the loss of explosiveness and radicalizing his talent with the ball at his feet. With his ultra-modern style of play and his long hair held back by a white headband, he combines the tradition of Italian center-backs with the Y2K aesthetic. Always making interventions in advance and then quickly fixing his hair behind his head, just like the various Maldini, Nesta, or Cannavaro did in the center of the Italian defense. And with his performance against Albania in the debut of the Italian National Team in the European Championship in Germany, Calafiori has singularly put the Italian aesthetic back on the map of continental football, after having lost that aura for some years.

Despite the recent great results of our football, the latest obviously being the triumph at Wembley at Euro2020, it is sometimes still a victim of the unattainable coolness of the early 2000s. Those teams that scared everyone on the field and conquered for their natural elegance and style that all the other national teams envied. The Kappa Kombat jerseys, the Nike95s, the mirrored sunglasses, and the gelled-back hair, the aesthetic of the Italian national team at the turn of the millennium is still untouchable to this day. With Calafiori, the headband aesthetic also returns with a vengeance, different from the one worn by Memphis Depay in the debut match of the Dutch National Team, and which instead has a long history in the Italian National Team. From Maldini to Cannavaro, but also perhaps less noble examples from a football point of view but equally representative in terms of style, like Alberto Aquilani or Vincenzo Iaquinta, have continued a long tradition that now has found a great spokesperson in Calafiori. And after the great match played against Albania, the Bologna center-back is now expected to face two difficult challenges against Spain and Croatia, which will decide the European journey of Luciano Spalletti's National Team, where he will surely be one of the most watched players on the field.