22 December 2017

Giuseppe Bergomi – footballer

World Cup winner who spent his whole career with Inter

Giuseppe Bergomi made 87  appearances for the national team
Giuseppe Bergomi made 87
appearances for the national team
The footballer Giuseppe Bergomi, renowned as one of the best defenders in the history of Italian football and a member of the World Cup-winning Azzurri side of 1982, was born on this day in 1963 in Milan.

Bergomi spent his entire club career with the Milan side Internazionale, spanning 20 years in which he made 756 appearances, including 519 in Serie A, which was a club record until it was overtaken by the Argentine-born defender Javier Zanetti, who went on to total 856 club appearances before he retired in 2014.

In international football, Bergomi played 87 times for the Italian national team, of which he was captain during the 1990 World Cup finals, in which Italy reached the semi-finals as hosts.

Alongside the brothers Franco, of AC Milan, and Giuseppe Baresi, his team-mate at Inter, and the Juventus trio Gaetano Scirea, Antonio Cabrini and Claudio Gentile, he was part of the backbone of the Italian national team for much of the 1980s.

He made his Azzurri debut in April 1982, only a couple of months before the World Cup finals in Spain, aged just 18 years and 3 months, making him the youngest player to feature in a match for Italy since the Second World War.

Not surprisingly, given his young age, he was not a first-choice in the 1982 side under coach Enzo Bearzot.

Bergomi in his early days 
But he came on as a substitute against Brazil in the memorable 3-2 second phase win and on the strength of that was named in the starting line-up against Poland in the semi-final because Gentile was suspended.

Such was his performance, displaying a maturity beyond his years, that Bearzot felt he could not drop him for the final against West Germany.

In the event, given the job of marking the dangerous Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, he was one of Italy’s best players, rendering the German star so ineffective he was substituted in the second half as Italy ran out 3-1 winners. Bergomi also played a part in the build-up to Marco Tardelli’s famous goal.

Italy did not progress beyond the last 16 in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico but under his captaincy the Azzurri to a third-place finish, losing to Argentina on penalties in the semi-final before beating England in the play-off for third place.

Bergomi’s international career seemed to be over after he was sent off against Norway in a qualifying match for the 1992 European Championships, prefacing a long period in which he was not selected.

Yet he made a surprise comeback to play in his fourth World Cup finals in France in 1998, at the age of 34.  Alongside Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, he played in three matches as Italy reached the last eight before being eliminated on penalties by the hosts and eventual champions France.

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Versatile enough to play in any defensive role, as full back, centre back or sweeper, he was renowned for his positional strength and his ability to make surging forward runs in his favoured position of right back.

He was also a fierce tackler, although he had a short fuse at times.  Much admired as a sportsman with an innate sense of fairness, he sometimes struggled to contain his emotions and was actually sent off a total of 12 times in his career.

The highlights of his career with Inter included the Serie A title in 1988-89 and three UEFA Cup medals in the 1990s, Inter lifting the trophy in 1991, 1994 and 1998.

Affectionately referred to as Lo zio – the uncle – during his playing career, he was named as one of the 100 best players in the history of football in 2004 in a list compiled by the Brazil legend Pelé to mark the 100th anniversary of FIFA 100.

Since retiring as a player, Bergomi has done some coaching and currently works as a pundit at Sky Sports Italia. He frequently co-commentates on Serie A matches alongside Fabio Caressa, with whom he described Italy’s victory in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Inter was formed by a group of friends who met in a Milan restaurant
Inter was formed by a group of friends
who met in a Milan restaurant
Travel tip:

Bergomi’s home-town club, Internazionale, was originally established by expatriate British football enthusiasts but after a dispute over whether foreign players should be signed that a breakaway group formed following a meeting at the Ristorante L'Orologio in Via Giuseppe Mengoni in Milan, a short distance from the opera house, Teatro alla Scala.  An artist, Giorgio Muggiani, who had developed an enthusiasm for football while studying in Switzerland, was the driving force behind the new club and it was he who designed the club's famous logo, featuring the colours blue, black and gold. 

The Arena Civica was Inter's home for 37 years
The Arena Civica was Inter's home for 37 years
Travel tip:

For many years, Internazionale's home ground was the Arena Civica, in the heart of Milan. Opened in 1807 in the city's Parco Sempione, behind the Castello Sforzesco, the arena is one of Milan's main examples of neoclassical architecture, an elliptical amphitheatre commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte soon after he became King of Italy in 1805.  Napoleon wanted it to be Milan's equivalent of the Colosseum in Rome.  It was Inter’s home for 37 years until they moved to the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in the San Siro district of Milan, which they share with AC Milan.

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