Giorgio Chiellini’s most outrageous moments from unsettling Alba to Cavani scrap

The friendly between Italy and Argentina in June will mark the end of an era as Giorgio Chiellini plays his last game of international football.

The legendary defender will retire following that clash, having made more than 115 appearances for his country and captained them to winning Euro 2020. He made his debut for the Azzurri in 2004, with his old-school attitude to defending earning him fans across football.

He is yet to make a decision on his future at club level, though his contract at Juventus still has another year to run. To celebrate the legendary Italian, Daily Star Sport takes a look at his most outrageous moments ahead of his international retirement.

Unsettling Alba

Chiellini has long been known as a player who does all he can to gain an edge over whoever his team are playing. That was no different in Italy's Euro 2020 semi-final against Spain, which went all the way to a penalty shootout.

At the coin toss ahead of the spot-kicks, Chiellini attempted to get into Spanish skipper Jordi Alba's head by laughing at him, playfully hitting him and giving him a bear hug. While it appeared to be a fine example of gamesmanship, Chiellini insisted there was an innocent explanation.

"Much more was said than what actually happened. We had to decide which end to shoot at, and the referee threw a counter and said 'red one end, blue the other'. When red came up, Jordi thought it was his end, but I joked that it wasn't," he said.

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Fight with Cavani

Chiellini has been a striker's nightmare throughout his career and that was shown back in March 2013 during a clash between Juventus and Napoli. The two sides were the main contenders for that season's Serie A title and met with 11 games to play.

What followed was a 90 minute war between Chiellini and Napoli star Edinson Cavani, highlighted when the Juventus defender pulling the striker's hair before the Uruguayan aimed an elbow at his head in revenge. In typical fashion, after the game Chiellini insisted that there were no hard feelings.

“What happened can be seen on the footage. We spoke afterwards and it’s only right that for 90 minutes we knock each other about, but at the final whistle it’s all over. It stays on the pitch and is a great challenge to be taking on champions,” Chiellini told Sky Sport Italia.

Carrying on after receiving eight stitches

The Italian's stubbornness to play as much as possible for any team he plays for was shown back in a 2017 Champions League game between Juventus and Olympiakos. Goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic had put Juve two goals up.

But then Chiellini collided with Bjorn Engles in the air, with blood gushing out from his head. The defender though insisted on carrying on and did so with a blue bandage wrapped around his head, before revealing he needed eight stitches to seal the wound.

“I’ve got three points on the field and eight stitches in my head. All that counted tonight was the win. Let’s carry on like this," Chiellini posted on Instagram after seeing his side secure the three points.

Cynical foul on Saka

Chiellini's desire to do anything he can to win will not provoke fond memories for England fans. The defender had scored the equaliser for Italy in the final of Euro 2020 against the Three Lions.

And with the game edging closer to extra-time, Chiellini made a cynical tackle that was straight out of the Diego Simeone playbook. England star Bukayo Saka was breaking forward and had beaten Chiellini on the halfway line.

With Saka escaping, Chiellini grabbed hold of the back of the winger's collar and pulled him down to the ground. The defender was shown a yellow card for his actions, with Italy going on to win the final on penalties.

Botched Sunderland move

Chiellini has spent his entire career in Italy, but there was a moment when he could have made the move to England. Having secured promotion with Sunderland into the Premier League, Roy Keane attempted to bring the defender to the Stadium of Light.

“It was a day like many others when I took a call from an agent who said, ‘Would you be interested in Chiellini?’. I replied, ‘Does a child like Christmas? Absolutely, we would, yes. But there’s no chance he’ll come here’," Sunderland's then chief scout Mick Brown told the Mirror last year.

“He said, ‘Leave it with me’, so I did. A couple of days later, he called me back and said, ‘Chiellini is up for it’. A fee was agreed with Juventus – £8million – and Chiellini’s terms had been as well. We were all set to go.

“But somewhere in the negotiations in the hierarchy – it was nothing to do with Roy or me, Roy wanted Chiellini to come – it fell down over £200,000. Who wanted it or what it was for, I don’t know. It was a real shame because I’d put my life on this kid turning out to be a cracker."

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