Cannavaro urges World Cup-winning pair to return

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The Independent Football

The Italy captain, Fabio Cannavaro, has asked Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nesta to end their international retirements and return for the Azzurri at next year's World Cup.

The Roma striker and Milan defender both quit after Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph in Berlin but have been in good form after recovering from career-threatening injuries.

"I have talked with Francesco and also Alessandro," Juventus defender Cannavaro said on Monday night. "We were fortunate to experience Berlin together and we have a strong bond. I am always trying to make them rethink, even if it was their decision and that should be respected."

Totti, 33, has said he would consult with the Italy coach, Marcello Lippi, in March or April to see whether a return to the side was possible, given his recurring knee problems. Nesta, who is also 33 and was out for a year with back trouble, had indicated he would stick to his decision to retire.

Italy officials will have a fight on their hands if they want to appoint Cesare Prandelli as national coach after the World Cup, the Fiorentina owner, Diego Della Valle, has said.

Lippi, who has made no comment, is widely expected to take up a role as Juventus director after next June's tournament and Fiorentina's Prandelli has won admirers for a his cool persona and tactical acumen.

"We are not even considering that he can leave," Della Valle was quoted as saying in yesterday's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.