Italy's unlikely hero strikes again in final

Fabio Grosso stole the show yet again at the World Cup final on Sunday, scoring the decisive penalty to seal Italy's victory over France.

The 28-year-old left back, who was playing fourth division football only five years ago, has rarely been out of the spotlight during the knockout stages of these finals.

It was Grosso who won the late penalty, converted by Francesco Totti, to give the Italians a 1-0 win over Australia in what was turning into a mighty difficult second round match.

In the semi-finals, Grosso struck with a wonderful curling shot a minute before the end of extra time to break German hearts and set Italy up for a 2-0 win.

Grosso raced the length of the pitch after smacking his penalty high past Fabien Barthez and into the top of the net and clinching a 5-3 shootout win on Sunday.

It was the third time in four matches that he found himself as the hero of the hour but he was reluctant to take much credit.

"I took the last penalty because we wanted to get those who could score more easily up first," the modest Grosso told reporters. "You're never sure about taking a penalty.

"But we really wanted it. It's to the credit of a great team that we got our hands on the World Cup. It's going to be a long party."

Grosso will savour this triumph more than most of his teammates after enduring such a tough start to his career.

He started with four seasons in amateur football, until 1998, and continued with another three in Italy's C2 fourth division with Chieti before he ended up at Perugia.

He then moved on to Palermo and is now strongly tipped for a move to Inter Milan.

"At the end of the match I thanked the coach because he's been the biggest influence on the team," Grosso said.

"He had faith in us and made us into a team. Without him, we certainly wouldn't have won this title."

Source: China Daily

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