Girelli's magic moment “Hall of Fame is an important achievement"The Juventus forward is the ninth player to receive this honour. After the Scudetto race and the Coppa Italia final, the World Cup awaits: “The National team unites an entire country, which always pushes me beyond my limits and be better"
Thursday, April 20, 2023
With the number 10 on her back, she has made many an opponent go mad and millions of Italians fall in love with Women's football thanks to her talent, action on the pitch and love for the sport. After a career full of success and trophies, an incredible 2023 has just seen Cristiana Girelli reach 100 goals scored for Juventus and 100 caps for the Azzurre. These achievements with her beloved club and national team have awarded her with the honour of being inducted into Italian Football's Hall of Fame.
“It's a magical moment and I'm really proud with this honour," underlined the forward. "I've reached some important milestones these last few years but I know I can still improve. I want to add to these stats as soon as possible..." It's an ambition that has seen her make great strides in Clubs that have formed the Women's footballing movement. From Nuvolera - the small town in the province of Brescia where she grew up and started playing football - to Torino, gaining experience at Bardolino Verona and Brescia, her journey began in 2005 winning nine Scudetto titles, seven Italian Cups and ten Italian Super Cups along the way, without forgetting being the league's top scorer for two years running (2019/20 and 2020/21), which earned her the player of the year award in both seasons.
Unforgettable moments that Cristiana summarises: “I spent nine years at Verona, made my Champions League debut and won my first Scudetto at 15 years of age, having had the fortune to share a dressing room with Panico, Gabbiadini, Zorri, Boni and other champions, who at that time were making history with the National team." In the summer of 2013, she moved to Lombardy where she joined up with Milena Bertolini and many other current teammates, becoming part of a ‘dream team’ who in 2015 recorded the most number of wins in Serie A history: “Those seasons at Brescia made me grow as a player and I understood the importance of the group. The President, Giuseppe Cesari, led us with such passion which we were then able to take out onto the pitch.” After a long, winning run with the Leonesse, where she was also captain, Juventus came calling in 2018: “With the Bianconere, I learnt to consider every little detail: I felt like an athlete, a professional, and every day taught me something new. I feel very lucky and want to carry on scoring many goals for this shirt because it deserves it."
The present has also brought about strong Azzurre emotions for Girelli, like the one against Colombia in the friendly at Tre Fontane in Rome on 11 April, where she received a standing ovation in front of a packed crowd for reaching 100 caps for the National side: “It's a shirt that unites an entire country. Every time I put it on, it feels like the first time. I feel a great responsibility because I know how much it means to people who'd like to be in my position. Rpresenting Italy is a dream."
She made her debut in 2013 against England in the Cyprus Cup, before getting the first of her 53 goals in a World Cup qualifier against Romania. Since then, Cristiana's journey with the First Team has never separated. Every time, it is the 'proudest moment' to share with the other players and lead the new Azzurre generation: “I adivse the younger players a lot," added the 32-year-old. “The first thing is to never take anything for granted, on the field or off it. They must think about every aspect that can help them become the best version of themselves.” From a character point of view, “it's vital to be strong because football is made up of moments and a balance always needs to be found, even on the darkest days," continuing, "whatever happens, you need to keep looking to improve yourself."
She is now Juventus' leading goalscorer and fourth in the all-time scoring ranks for the Azzurre: it is difficult to find a 'new' Girelli around - regarding goals scored, having done so in every way possible - even if she has already identified a potential new talent: “I see myself in Polli and Beccari because they both have all the qualities an attacker should have. They must never be satisfied and need to keep their feet on the ground. I repeat this often to them, especially with Chiara, who despite being only 18 years old has already shown her talent with the First Team."
The last few games in the Championship Round - starting with the showdown against Roma - and the Coppa Italia final are what is facing Girelli before this summer's World Cup, which sees Italy in their second consecutive tournament after not appearing for 20 years previously. Four years ago in France, Milena Bertolini's side had an incredible run headlining the front cover of newspapers and winning the hearts of millions of Italians; it's what they will be hoping to achieve again this time around in Australia and New Zealand. “Taking part in such an occasion is a fantastic achievement; we've all worked so hard for it. We need to understand that we are the architects of our destiny. I hope that every one of us will realise what we are capable of and give our maximum to the collective group. It's going to be a great experience and we'll do our everything so that it will remain in fans' hearts and memories for a long, long time in the future."