Whenever the topic of the best defenders in the world is brought up, you’re more likely to hear the names of Sergio Ramos and Virgil Van Dijk amongst others.
Whilst Juventus fans would often stand their ground defending their men, the worldwide audience only takes notice of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci whenever they manage to put on a solid Champions League run with their club, or perform at the highest levels with their national team.
Unfortunately for the two veterans, their track record in finals (putting aside the Coppa Italia) was poor to say the least – at least prior to Sunday’s big final.
But after leading Italy toward triumph in Euro 2020 at the expense of England on their own turf in Wembley, the world is no longer allowed to ignore their greatness.
And rightfully so, the two Bianconeri stars have suddenly become the toast of town, receiving words of praise from fans and pundits all around the globe.
Chiellini led the team with his vast experience, unparalleled ferocity and an incredible gamesmanship (just ask Jordi Alba and Bukayo Saka).
On the other hand, Bonucci cemented himself as another world class defender at a time when he was beginning to slip out of the conversation, and put on a man of the match performance in the final against the Three Lions.
But here’s the scary part. The captain will celebrate his 37th birthday this summer, whilst his longtime teammate is not a spring chicken either at the age of 34.
Moreover, physical issues are beginning to take their toll on the duo, especially Giorgio, who was contemplating retirement earlier in the season.
The problem that both Juventus and Italy will be facing in the near future, is having to replace not one, but two titans who have been shielding their goal for so long.
Finding quality defenders these days could be a complicated task, but that’s not exactly the main issue in here – especially for the Old Lady, who already has Matthijs de Ligt and can always buy another one.
However, the problem lies in forging new leaders who can take the torch and keep the flame burning for future generations.
When it comes to Juventus and Italy, their glories have always been built upon squads filled with strong characters who are willing to leave it all on the pitch – or to say it simply, possessing the infamous Italian Grinta.
Therefore, we can only hope that Chiellini and Bonucci would be able to inspire their younger teammates at club and international levels, the same way that they were themselves inspired by the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo.
So will we see new leaders rise after inheriting this rare winning mentality? Only time will tell.