When it comes to major achievements in the international and club arenas, no nation has won as much as the Mediterranean country. So what is the secret behind this success?
Madonna once famously flaunted a slogan T-Shirt with the caption: "Italians do it better". And while the Princess of Pop was suggestively alluding to another physically popular pastime, she could just as well have been referring to football.
Having won the World Cup on four occasions, only Brazil have lifted sport’s greatest prize more times than Italy – and that was courtesy of a penalty shootout victory over the Azzurri in 1994.
On the club scene, the peninsula has accumulated the most major European trophies – a total of 38 triumphs in the past and present equivalents of the Champions League, Europa League and the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup.
Until a fortnight ago, when Egypt’s Al-Ahly captured the African Super Cup, seven-time European Cup winners AC Milan were 'Il club più titolato al mondo' – the club with the most international trophies in the world. Arrigo Sacchi’s all-conquering club side of the late 1980s and early 90s - boasting superstars Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini - are regarded by many as the greatest to have ever existed.