On 25 June 2010, Italy defender and captain Fabio Cannavaro announced his retirement from international football. With 136 appearances, he remains Italy's record cap-holder for an outfield player.
Cannavaro made his national team debut over thirteen years earlier in a January 1997 friendly against Northern Ireland. By 1998, he was regular starter, playing every minute for Italy in that year's World Cup before losing out to eventual winners France on penalties in the quarterfinals. They again lost to France in the Euro 2000 Final, but Cannavaro earned personal glory as one of the defenders named to the Team of the Tournament.
After disappointing early exits in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, Cannavaro captained Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, anchoring a defense that surrendered only two goals--an own-goal and a penalty--before beating France in a Final shootout. As a result of that performance, he finished as runner-up to France's Zinedine Zidane in voting for the tournament's Golden Ball winner.
Cannavaro missed Euro 2008 due to injury and considered retiring from the national team later that year, but decided to return to help Italy defend their World Cup in 2010. Unfortunately, their campaign was a disaster, as they finished at the bottom of their first-round group after draws with Paraguay and New Zealand, followed by a loss to Slovakia on 24 June. Cannavaro announced his international retirement the next day.
He continued to play at the club level until a knee injury ended his career in July 2011.