Sergio Parisse – captain of Italy Six Nations 2017

Full name Sergio Matteo Parisse
Born September 12, 1983, La Plata
Current age 33 years 133 days
Major teams Barbarians, Stade Français, Italy
Position No. 8
Height 1.96 m
Weight 112 kg

Len málo súčasných hráčov je vo všeobecnosti uznávaných a ospevovaných, ako je Sergio Parisse. Zriedkakedy nájdete zlé slovo o magickom talianskom kapitánovi v športových médiách, skôr počujete o jeho udivujúcich manipulačných schopnostiach, výkonnom atletickom úsilí a o nevypŕchajúcom odhodlaní, ktoré spestrujú výkony Azzurri rok za rokom.

Jeho rodičia sú Taliani ale narodil sa v Argentíne, kde jeho otec, tiež Sergio, pracoval. Sergio senior hral pre L’Aquila klub a Sergio junior začínal pre La Platu. Neskôr sa ako tínedžer presunul za svojimi talianskymi koreňmi do Trevisa. 3 mesiace mu chýbali do 19, keď taliansky tréner John Kirwan ho v júni 2002 pridal ako posilu do národného tímu.

Tri roky neskôr, zapísali tento veľký talent do klubu Stade Francais. Počas nasledujúceho desaťročia dozrel pre klub i svoju krajinu. “Vyzerá to ako keby sa zlepšoval každou hrou, keď hrá pre Taliansko”, povedal bývalý hráč za Anglicko Tom Palmer. “Vždy naplní očakávania.”

Keď mal 24 rokov, Parisse mal za sebou 50 reprezentačných zápasov a kapitánstvo talianskeho tímu, pričom prebral prvenstvo Marcovi Bortolamimu. V súčasnosti je hráčom, ktorý najviac hral v reprezentačnom tíme a 8 najhranejším hráčom v reprezentácii vo svetovom rugby. Parisse predbehol aj Nathana Sharpa a Fabiena Pelous, pričom sa pridal ku Jasonovi Leonardovi (199 hraní v reprezentácii).

Jeho povesť bola slabo poškvrnená v roku 2009, keď dostal zákaz hrať na 8 týždňov za to, že takmer vypichol oko protihráčovi. Napriek tomu, pozitíva prevyšujú negatíva pre hráča, ktorý bol nominovaný dvakrát na cenu svetového hráča rugby roka – v 2008 a 2013.

Silný v obrane, spoľahlivý v lineoute a bezproblémový pri touch finder a drop goali, je najznámejší pre jeho svižné a devastujúce zrážky so súperom. Bol kapitánom Barbarov a klubu Stade Francais, pričom ich viedol do Top 14 klubov vo Francúzsku minulý rok.

Jeho úspechy sú o to viac obdivuhodné, keďže ich dokázal v trápiacom sa národnom time, ktorý prehral 80 z jeho 112 zápasov doteraz; horšie je na tom len Bortolami s 81 prehrami.

Napriek 33 rokom, Parisse má nenahraditeľné miesto v srdci talianskeho tímu.

Few current players are as universally admired and lauded as Sergio Parisse. Rarely is a bad word written or spoken about Italy’s talismanic captain in the sporting media as his astonishing handling skills, powerful athleticism and undying determination light up the Azzurri’s performances year after year.

His parents are Italian but he was born in Argentina while his father, also Sergio, worked there. Sergio senior had played for L’Aquila and Sergio junior started out with La Plata, before transplanting his Italian roots to Treviso in his late teens. He was still three months short of his 19th birthday when Italy coach John Kirwan handed him his first Test cap in June 2002.

Three years later the all-round talent of this 6ft 5in back-rower prompted Stade Francais to sign him and he has blossomed for club and country in the decade since. “It seems as though he raises his game every time he plays for Italy,” said ex-England lock Tom Palmer. “He delivers every time.”

By the age of 24, Parisse had 50 caps and the Italian captaincy to his name, having taken over the helm from Marco Bortolami. He is now Italy’s most-capped player and the eighth most-capped forward in world rugby. Parisse has surpassed Nathan Sharpe and Fabien Pelous to join Jason Leonard on 119 caps.

A rare blemish on his record came in 2009 when he was banned for eight weeks for gouging, but the positives far outweigh the negatives for a player who has twice been shortlisted for the World Rugby Player of the Year Award – in 2008 and 2013.

Strong in defence, reliable in the lineout and not adverse to launching the odd touch-finder or drop-goal, he is best known for his deft and devastating offloads. He has captained the Barbarians and Stade Francais, leading them to France’s Top 14 title last year.

His achievements are all the more remarkable because he has made his name in a struggling national side, having lost 80 of his 112 Tests to date, with only Bortolami faring worse with 81 defeats.

Although 33, Parisse remains an irreplaceable presence in the heart of the Italy team.


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