The Del Piero Zone: How a patch of grass was named after the Azzurri legend

Alessandro Del Piero

It is very rare that a part of the football pitch is named after a player. But that is indeed the case for former Juventus and Italy attacker Alessandro del Piero, for every time he got into one particular area of the grass and unleashed a shot, only one outcome was expected — a goal!

That small parcel of land, just around the left side within and around the corner of the opposition’s penalty area, came to be known as the “Del Piero Zone”.

How does “Alex” score this signature goal? Well, the trademark method is pretty simple to describe. By running down the left flank either with the ball at his feet, or receiving it in the zone off a pass, Del Piero would often steady himself with a few quick touches, then unleash his lethal short-to-medium range shot with a curl so wicked it would round the keeper first before landing into the back of the net at the far post.

Many times has he tormented the opposition with this unstoppable shot, but he was also able to add variety on some occasions when firing from this personal sweet spot — from the more traditional low-and-firm strike to the more inventive and audacious back-heel.

Eventually, as Del Piero was able to regularly convert from this particular location, like a weapon unleashing a guided missile, scoring from that specific area has been attributed to his name.

Del Piero

His goalscoring exploits from this danger zone helped Juventus amass multiple titles domestically and win the 1995-96 Champions League.

Most memorable “Del Piero Zone” goal

Of all of Alessandro’s goals from that area of the pitch, one definitely stood out. It was during the 2006 FIFA World Cup semifinals against hosts Germany. The second half of extra time was creeping nearer to expiration and the Azzurri were in front after Fabio Grosso scored the breakthrough in the 119th minute.

The Germans were already going for broke as they tried desperately to score, in search for an equaliser, and force a penalty shootout. But a poor touch by Lukas Podolski gave Fabio Cannavaro a chance to pounce for a crucial interception.

Del Piero

Pushing forward with the ball, the defender then passed to midfielder Francesco Totti who then found forward Alberto Gilardino who brought the ball further upfield, attracting his marker towards the centre before nonchalantly executing a through ball into space where an on-rushing Del Piero met the ball in (guess what?) the “Del Piero Zone” to unleash his textbook signature strike.

And without a hint of doubt in its flight, the ball curled (as time seemed to slow down), gliding carefully into the back of the net to its predetermined destination. BANG! The insurance goal finally in the bank. Germany were stunned. Westfalenstadion conquered! Italy were through to the final to face France, and the rest, is history.

Alessandro Del Piero’s goal arrived at the perfect moment proving once and for all, right on the biggest stage, that the “Del Piero Zone” is his and his alone.