Sad news has emerged this week that Italian stalwart Giorgio Chiellini will be retiring from international football this summer.
Only a few weeks ago, Italy missed out on qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, losing out to a late North Macedonia winner in the qualifiers.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Chiellini, who at 37, has been hampered by injuries since his emphatic performances at Euro 2020 last summer.
Chiellini has earned 116 caps for the Italian national team since making his debut in 2004. His last match will be a friendly against Argentina in London in June.
The veteran defender announced his international retirement after Juventus beat Sassuolo 2-1 on Monday night. "I'd like to say goodbye to the Azzurri with a nice memory," he said.
"I'll say goodbye to the national team at Wembley, where I experienced the pinnacle of my career by winning the Euros," Chiellini continued.
Despite winning the Euros and being the fifth most capped Italian of all time, arguably his greatest legacy will be all of the memes he's provided us with over the years.
Chiellini: The Meme King
One of the best things to come out of Euro 2020 was the Chiellini v Bukayo Saka meme. The defender committed a flagrant foul when Saka was through down the wing.
The internet did its work thereafter and it resulted in the birth of some great photoshops.
— Bianconeri Zone (@BianconeriZone) September 24, 2021
— Florian (@Florian_u_) July 12, 2021
— TheChemicalAsdfg (@ChemicalAsdfg) August 6, 2021
Only two weeks ago, Chiellini provided us with another great meme, but a puzzling one. He adopted an unusual technique of firing up his teammates.
Juventus were facing Bologna and the game was scoreless at half-time. Some of Chiellini's teammates seemed a bit flabbergasted as he wagged his tongue at them.
— Out Of Context Football (@nocontextfooty) April 16, 2022
Going back to 2014 now and Chiellini was on the wrong side of a Luis Suarez flesh wound. A fiery encounter took place at the World Cup between Italy and Uruguay.
Later on in his autobiography, Chiellini claimed he held no grudges and said he 'admired' him for it. Suarez would later be banned for nine internationals.
— SPORF (@Sporf) September 3, 2020
Chiellini always makes me think of this meme: pic.twitter.com/B5bY0jGvRe
— kyla (@kylaer_) July 6, 2021
What about the classic che vuoi? When Italians question something or refer to anything in peak Italian, they clasp their fingers in a symbolic national gesture.
Somehow, Giorgio Chiellini seems to embody the che vuoi and images of him approaching a referee without making the gesture feel a bit off.
— Gianmarco Spigariol (@spigagiammy) January 12, 2022
Chiellini is also the type of character that can just create a meme out of a mere facial expression. He's got one of those heads on him.
The defender has played plenty of matches in front of cameras at this stage, and he's also been through the wars in footballing terms.
Giorgio Chiellini is a human riposte to those memes rugby fans post about "rugby players v footballers" pic.twitter.com/P3H7qAuSMG
— Gaby McKay (@GabyMcKay) March 12, 2019
— Juan Carlos Pineda (@jczpineda) July 12, 2021
Then you have the subtle roasting of Tottenham Hotspur in 2019 after a Champions League encounter, in which Chiellini didn't mince his words..
But Tottenham, it's the history of the Tottenham. They always created many chances and scored so much, but at the end they miss something, always to arrive at the end. We believe in the history.
Chiellini is spot on about Tottenham 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/tUBNGUlUtx
— Footy Humour (@FootyHumour) January 24, 2019
Last but not least, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci gave us all a laugh as they brought the Euro 2020 trophy to bed. A well-deserved troll of England.
— GOAL Africa (@GOALAfrica) July 12, 2021