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Italy are the European U/21 champions and were unbeaten throughout the whole qualification series. They beat France, another good team, in the play-offs and then beat England and the Czech Republic on the way to the title. Here is some information about the better players:


Name : Christian Abbiati

Position : Goalkeeper

Date of birth : 8/7/77

Team : AC Milan (Italy)

Notes : Moved from Serie B club Monza to Milan to be third choice keeper but with Jens Lehmann leaving and Sebastiano Rossi being suspended for six games he was given a chance in the first team after just six months as there were non other goalkeepers available. He performed so well in these games that he retained his place for the remaining 18 games of the season and was a key factor in their eventual league title triumph in 1998/99. He continued being first choice for Milan in 1999/00 and finished the season as part of Italy's Euro 2000 squad after the withdrawal of Gianluigi Buffon.


Name : Massimo Ambrosini

Position : Midfielder

Date of birth : 29/5/77

Team : AC Milan (Italy)

Notes : Has been at Milan since 1995 after moving from youth system at Cesena. Spent a while on loan to Vicenza before becoming a regular in 1998/99. Was important in Milan's title-winning side in and capped a memorable season by making his full international debut. Has continued to improve and was a member of Italy's Euro 2000 side that finished runner-up to France.


Name : Gennaro Gattuso

Position : Midfielder

Date of birth : 9/1/78

Team : AC Milan (Italy)

Notes : Was originally in Perugia's youth team but moved under Bosman ruling to Scotland aged 17. Gained experience in Scottish leagues with Rangers before moving back to Italy and Salernitana. Has since moved to Milan and continued to impress.


Name : Andrea Pirlo

Position : Midfielder

Date of birth : 19/7/79

Team : Internazionale (Italy)

Notes : Rose to prominence at Brescia with which he scored four goals in his first year in the top flight in 1997/98. Moved to Inter for the next season but did not show quite the same skill. Spent a year on loan at Reggina, scoring five goals and is returning to Inter after an impressive performance in the European U/21 Championship scoring two goals in the final.


Name : Gianluca Zambrotta

Position : Midfielder

Date of birth : 19/2/77

Team : Juventus (Italy)

Notes : Versatile player who appeared in a number of positions for his two previous clubs, Como and Bari, before moving to Juventus from Bari for 6.6m. Won his first international cap against Norway in February 1999. Was one of the reasons for Juventus's resurgence in the 1999/00 Serie A where they lost the league to Lazio on the final day. Was part of Italy's Euro 2000 side which lost the final to France. 


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