SIX years on, a nation still wakes up in the middle of the night. Did Fabio Grosso dive? Or did Lucas Neill bring him down?
Either way, the decision of Spanish referee Luis Cantalejo to award that penalty in the round of 16 match at the World Cup remains enough to spark heated debate from Australian fans.
Perhaps only Grosso and Neill know whether it was a penalty, but that didn’t stop the question being put to Grosso’s friend, Alessandro Del Piero, at his first Australian news conference yesterday.
”Because we were 10 [men], Fabio said to me: ‘Ale, I am very tired’ – in the last minute of the game, injury time – ‘I’m really tired,”’ Del Piero said. ”And I am thinking probably that’s why, the wind and something else put Fabio downstairs.”
The answer brought universal laughter at yesterday’s press conference before he got serious.
”But I think, after jokes, sometimes there are moments where you have everything. And for us 2006 was the perfect World Cup,” he said. ”Everything goes in the right place, also [in] that match. And that’s why we won.”
Grosso confirmed two years ago that he ”accentuated a little bit” when he felt contact from the Socceroos defender – although he, like Del Piero, believed it was a penalty.
“It’s been a long time since 2006 but I say this with as much sincerity as I possibly can,” Grosso said. “In this instance when Neill slid in, maybe I accentuated it a little bit.
”However, you must remember it was the last minute of an extremely difficult game, and everyone was tired.”
While Francesco Totti would score the resulting penalty to knock Australia out, Grosso would go on to score the first goal of the semi-final win over Germany and then net the winning goal in the penalty shoot-out in the final.
In an interesting twist, Grosso, now 34, has also shown interest in moving to the A-League to finish his career.
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