A talisman who always performed in the big games, Marco Delvecchio was the kind of striker that every team needs; a rare concoction of unselfishness and team ethic, that’s still uncommon among Europe’s elite attackers.
Delvecchio broke into the Inter Milan side at just 18. And although he failed to assert himself until his return after a couple of loan spells, Delvecchio’s ability was apparent to his contemporaries. The Italian possessed something that both bellied his young age and made him an attractive component to have for both players and managers: an unselfish work ethic and an eye for teammates.
He only netted five times for Milan in his returning season, but his importance to the team far surpassed his inability to be prolific. Roma then, spotting a talent that could contribute more than just goals to a team, signed him in 1995; Delvecchio was settled and set for the most successful years of his career.
Scoring 76 goals for Roma in 236 appearances Delvecchio would go down in the club’s history book. He wasn’t unaccustomed to competition, though. At the start of the 2000-2001 campaign Fabio Capello splashed out on Gabriel Batistuta to partner Francesco Totti, which would mean only one forward position up for grabs.
“The defence starts with Delvecchio. The players need him in the team, he works hard for them.”
Delvecchio’s role as a classic tall target man, holding up the ball and maintaining possession, was key for Capello. The only problem he faced as the season went on, was Montella’s scoring record from the bench. This ultimately meant that he started games and Delvecchio was left on the sidelines, to watch on.
He would also fail to reach the scoring heights of his 18-goal season in 98-99, again. However, Delvecchio made a lasting impression on fans, thanks to his ability to impact important games.
He found particular ease in netting against rivals Lazio in the Derby Della Capitale; contributing nine goals against Roma’s fierce rivals, including two braces in 3-1 and 4-1 wins, respectively.
Marco Delvecchio, Vincenzo Montella and Francesco Totti in 1999. pic.twitter.com/rrMvRYlYCv
— 90s Footballers (@90sPlayers) April 12, 2017
This ability also transitioned to international games, with the former Roma striker minutes away from winning Euro 2000 for Italy, if not for a 93rd-minute goal to take the game to Extra-Time.
The fact that he maintained places in squads rife with enviable attacking talents, shows his importance. His club mates Vincenzo Montella and Gabriel Batistuta challenged further by Fillipo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero and Roberto Baggio at international level; a starting place among such starlets may not have been easy to come by, but Delvecchio had more than his fair share.
A rare breed of striker, one that on the surface may not seem crucial, but behind the scenes, a player of Delvecchio’s quality is indispensable to his side and manager.