You’re only scratching the surface when talking about Christian Vieri the footballer.
He boasts a limited amount of team honours with just one Serie A title, two Coppas Italia and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to his name, but make no mistake, he was deadly on his day.
The late 1990s saw Vieri reach his peak, the former striker netting five goals for Italy at the 1998 World Cup.
His form kicked on in the 1998/99 season as he played a key role in a memorable campaign for Lazio, who won the Suppercoppa Italiana and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. They also finished just a point behind Serie A winners AC Milan.
That earned him a £32million move to Inter Milan in the summer of 1999, a record transfer fee at the time.
His spell at Inter was very un-Vieri-like, though. He was at the San Siro for six years, but at the other 14 clubs in his playing career he was never around for longer than a year.
But that’s Vieri in a nutshell. He was professional butterfly who did his career on his own terms. This mindset meant he was never going one to just stick to the football.
In a parallel universe Vieri isn’t a football icon at all but actually one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
When he was in red-hot form at France 1998, Vieri shocked journalists when he revealed his childhood hero was Allan Border… the Australian cricket legend.
Vieri spent many of his early years growing up Down Under and naturally took up cricket, and by his account he was a very promising player.
“It’s a bit strange that I grew up in Australia but when I was there it was normal – going to school, playing soccer, playing cricket, playing different sports. I was a big fan of cricket,” Vieri said.
“Even if we were 13-14, we would go watch Australia play Test matches, ODI matches in Sydney. I’m a very big, big cricket fan.
“I just love playing. I was probably playing more cricket than soccer at school. You know what we would do? The tennis ball, we would tape it up to make it go faster and swing. I think I would’ve been the best batsman in the world if I played cricket. I was an all-rounder. I was really good.”
It’s not just the world of sport he’s dipped into. Vieri can call himself a movie star, having played Rocky Balboa’s Soviet enemy Ivan Drago in Italian comedy Picasso’s Face, a spoof film with a similar premise to Epic Movie or Scary Movie.
While playing he even cracked the world of fashion, opening up a label with AC Milan icon Paolo Maldini in 2003 – this all happening while Vieri and Maldini were playing for rival Milan clubs.
Sweet Years, which has been endorsed by a number of high profile sports stars including Diego Maradona and Rafael Nadal, has proved to be a successful project as it’s still going now.
Since retiring in 2009, Vieri has moved into the punditry world but has also branched out into other business ventures.
He’s the owner of Bombeer, an Italian premium lager beer which is mainly supplied to the US market.
Christian Vieri – one of football’s great mavericks. We’ll drink to that!
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