Dino Zoff (born 28 February 1942) is an Italian former professional football goalkeeper and is the oldest ever winner of the World Cup, which he earned as captain of the Italian national team in the 1982 tournament in Spain, at the age of 40 years, 4 months and 13 days, also winning the award for best goalkeeper of the tournament, and being elected to the team of the tournament for his performances, keeping two clean-sheets, an honour he also received after winning the 1968 European Championship on home soil; he is the only Italian player to have won both the World Cup and the European Championship. Zoff also achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia titles, and a UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions’ Cup finals in the 1972–73 and 1982–83 seasons, as well as finishing second in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup final.
Zoff was a goalkeeper of outstanding ability, and he has a place in the history of the sport among the very best in this role, being named the 3rd greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS behind Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks. He holds the record for the longest playing time without allowing goals in international tournaments (1142 minutes) set between 1972 and 1974. With 112 caps, he is the sixth most capped player for the Azzurri. In 2004 Pelé named him as one of the 100 greatest living footballers. In the same year, Zoff placed fifth in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and was elected as Italy’s golden player of the past 50 years. He also placed second in the 1973 Ballon d’Or, as he narrowly missed out on a treble with Juventus. In 1999, Zoff placed 47th in World Soccer Magazine’s 100 Greatest Players of the Twentieth Century.
After retiring as a footballer, Zoff went on to pursue a managerial career, coaching the Italian national team, with which he reached the Euro 2000 Final, and several other Italian clubs, including his former club Juventus, with which he won an UEFA Cup and a Coppa Italia double during the 1989–90 season, trophies he had also won as a player. In September 2014, Zoff published his Italian autobiography Dura Solo un Attimo la Gloria (“Glory only Lasts a Moment”).
Zoff’s career got off to an inauspicious start, when at the age of fourteen he had trials with Inter Milan and Juventus, but was rejected due to a lack of height. Five years later, having grown by 33 centimetres (supposedly due to his grandmother Adelaide’s recommended increased daily intake of eight eggs), he made his Serie A debut with Udinese on 24 September 1961, in a 5–2 defeat to Fiorentina, although Zoff was not criticised for any of the goals he conceded. Zoff made only four appearances in his first season for Udinese, as they were relegated to Serie B. He played the next season as the club’s starting goalkeeper, helping the club to Serie A promotion, before moving to Mantova in 1963, where he spent four seasons, making 131 appearances.
His performances for Mantova in the top flight caught the attention of larger clubs, while Italy’s national coach at the time, Edmondo Fabbri, even considered bringing him as a back-up for the 1966 FIFA World Cup, although he ultimately chose to bring Enrico Albertosi, Roberto Anzolin, and Pierluigi Pizzaballa instead. In 1967, Zoff was transferred to Napoli, in exchange for fellow goalkeeper Claudio Bandoni, and a transfer fee of 130 million Lire; he spent five seasons in Naples, making 143 Serie A appearances with the club. During this time, he began to achieve increasing recognition in Italy, also making his International debut with the Italian national side in 1968, and earning a place in Italy’s squads at Euro 68 and the 1970 World Cup.
Following his achievements with the national side, and due to his performances during his time with Napoli, Zoff was signed by Juventus in 1972, at the age of 30, where he resumed his success. In eleven years with Juventus, Zoff won the Serie A championship six times, the Coppa Italia twice and the UEFA Cup once, also reaching two European Cup finals, another semi-final in 1978 (during which Zoff played a decisive role in the club’s shoot-out victory over Ajax in the quarter-finals by saving two penalties), and the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup during the 1979–80 season. In 1973, he placed second in the Ballon d’Or, following his Serie A title victory, also narrowly missing out on an historical treble with Juventus, after reaching both the European Cup and the Coppa Italia finals that season, in which his club were defeated, however; Juventus also finished as runners-up in the 1973 Intercontinental Cup that year. In winning the 1977 UEFA Cup Final against Athletic Bilbao, Zoff came out on top against his ‘twin’, the Basque goalkeeper José Ángel Iribar.
Overall, Zoff made 479 appearances for Juventus in all competitions, making 330 Serie A appearances with the club (all of which came consecutively, a club record), 74 in the Coppa Italia, 71 in European Competitions, and 4 in other Club Competitions. He is currently Juventus’s 6th record appearance holder in all competitions, their 7th all-time appearance holder in Serie A, their 3rd all-time appearance holder in the Coppa Italia, their 7th all-time appearance holder in UEFA Club competitions, and their 9th all-time appearance holder in international club competitions.
Zoff won his final Serie A championship with Juventus during the 1981–82 Serie A season, also winning the 1982 FIFA World Cup with Italy that year, as his team’s captain. During the following 1982–83 season, the final season of his career, Dino Zoff won the Coppa Italia with defending Serie A champions Juventus, and he reached his second European Cup final with the club in 1983; Juventus were defeated 1–0 by Hamburg in Athens on 25 May, after Zoff was beaten by Felix Magath’s long-distance strike; this was the final match of his career. His final league appearance came in a 4–2 home win over Genoa on 15 May 1983.
Upon retirement, Zoff held the records for the oldest Serie A player, at the age of 41, and the most Serie A appearances (570 matches) for more than 20 years, until the 2005–06 season, when the records were broken by Lazio goalkeeper Marco Ballotta, and A.C. Milan defender Paolo Maldini respectively. Behind only former A.C. Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi, who overtook him during the 1993–94 season, Zoff has conceded the fewest goals in a single Serie A season; behind only Gianluigi Buffon and Sebastiano Rossi, he has also gone the most time unbeaten in Serie A without conceding a goal, producing a 903-minute unbeaten streak during the 1972–73 season, a record that stood until Rossi overtook him in the 1993–94 season; Buffon broke the record during the 2015–16 season. He also held the Serie A record for most consecutive clean sheets alongside Rossi (9), until Gianluigi Buffon overtook them both with his 10th consecutive clean sheet in 2016. With 570 Serie A appearances, Zoff is also the sixth highest appearance holder in Serie A of all time, and he is the fourth oldest player in Serie A to have ever played a match. He holds the record for most consecutive matches played in Serie A (332), a streak which went unbroken from 21 May 1972 (in a 0–0 home draw with Napoli against Bologna), until his final league appearance with Juventus in 1983. At 41 years and 86 days, Zoff is also the oldest player to have appeared in a European Cup or UEFA Champions League Final.