England’s last World Cup winner doesn’t have a single cap for the Three Lions

To call him 'England's last World Cup winner' is a bit of a stretch but former Italy star Simone Perrotta has the heritage to claim the tag.

In 2010, a statue of the former Roma and Juventus midfielder was erected in the Tameside area of Greater Manchester alongside 1966 legends Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Armfield. What do these three men have in common, you ask? They're all Tamesiders who have held aloft football's most prestigious trophy.

That's right, Perrotta is a Manc! He was born in Ashton-under-Lyne and was eligible to play for the Three Lions until he chose to represent the Azzurri.

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The 2006 World Cup winner spent the first five years of his life in England. His parents, who emigrated from Italy in the early 1970s, ran a pub for a few years before the family moved back to to their hometown of Cerisano in southern Italy in 1982.

Perrotta's father ran a football team in Ashton, called Jolly Milan, and young Simone could often be found kicking a football against a garage with his two older brothers, according to their neighbours.

After moving back to Italy, Perrotta joined local side Reggina and made his debut for the senior side in 1995. The energetic, industrious midfielder proved himself a valuable asset and sealed a move to Serie A giants Juventus three years later.

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There, Perrotta found himself competing with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids, Antonio Conte and Didier Deschamps for a starting spot, making first team football hard to come by. He left after just one season, moving to Bari and then Chievo before eventually sealing a career-defining transfer to Roma in 2004, where he would spent the final nine years of his career.

His form in the capital helped establish him as a first team regular for Italy, and he started every single game at the 2006 World Cup, partnering Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Mauro Camoranesi in midfield.

When the Azzurri triumphed over France in the final, Tamesiders, well-aware that one of their own was playing, rejoiced, and four years later, they immortalised him with a statue.

Though it wasn't until 2016 that Perrotta found out that the statue even existed, telling Radio 1’s Chris Stark at the time: "It was my uncle, who still lives there, who told me about it.

"The fact that in England, in Ashton-Under-Lyne, something tangible has been left by building a statue in my name makes me happy and proud to have been born in England."


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