28 June 2018

Lorenzo Amoruso - footballer

Defender was most successful Italian in British football

Amoruso was the first Catholic to be named as captain of the Glasgow club, Rangers
Amoruso was the first Catholic to be named
as captain of the Glasgow club, Rangers
Lorenzo Amoruso, a defender who played for teams in Italy, San Marino, England and Scotland during a career spanning almost two decades, was born on this day in 1971 in Bari.

Formerly the captain of Fiorentina, Amoruso signed for Glasgow Rangers for £4 million in 1997 and remained at the Scottish club for six seasons, during which time he won nine major trophies, which makes him the most successful Italian player in British football.

The first Catholic player to captain Rangers - traditionally the club supported by Glasgow’s Protestant community - Amoruso won the Scottish Premier League title three times, the Scottish Cup three times and the Scottish League Cup three times.

His total of winners’ medals dwarfs those of much higher profile Italian stars in England.

The illustrious Chelsea trio of Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and Roberto di Matteo each won two FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals, but did not feature in a Premier League title-winning team.

Mario Balotelli was part of the Manchester City team that won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League the following year, famously providing the pass, while lying on his back, that set up the Argentinian Sergio Aguero to score the title-winning goal four minutes into stoppage time in City’s final match of the season.  But he stayed with the club for only half a seasons more.

Amoruso began his career with his local team in Bari before moving to Florence in 1995, captaining the team that won the Coppa Italia in 1996 and reached the semi-finals of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup the following season.

Amid rumours that he was to join Manchester United in the English Premier League, Amoruso signed instead for Rangers.

It was a major coup for the Scottish club, as Serie A at that time was still one of the most glamorous leagues in the world and, at 26, Amoruso was much younger than most of Italy’s previous footballing exports, who tended to leave only when their careers were drawing to a close.

But he was attracted by the prospect of playing in the Champions League and excited by the atmosphere generated when the famous Ibrox Stadium was full.  The club was also ambitious to make a good show in Europe and establish superiority over city rivals Celtic and players such as Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup were among a raft of new signings.

His time at Ibrox had its ups and downs. For example, he missed most of his first season with an Achilles tendon injury and fell out several times with the club’s Dutch manager, Dick Advocaat. He also had to apologise after TV microphones picked up some racist comments aimed at another player during a Champions League match.

Amoruso now works as a pundit on TV station TV8 in Italy
Amoruso now works as a pundit on TV station TV8 in Italy
Nonetheless, he twice won Scotland’s domestic ‘treble’ - the Premier League, Scottish Cup and League Cup - in 1999 and 2003, and made more than 150 appearances for the club.

He left in the summer of 2003 only because Rangers were facing mounting debts and needed to sell players. Amoruso moved to the English Premier League to join Blackburn Rovers in a £1.4 million deal, having ended his Rangers career on a high note by scoring the winning goal in the 2003 Scottish Cup Final.

Although he scored a goal on his debut for Blackburn, his career in England was less successful and injuries restricted him to just 18 matches in three seasons.  His contract was not renewed in the summer of 2006, after which he effectively retired, although he did play for Cosmos of San Marino on a part-time basis.

Amoruso was never picked for the Italian national team, which he blamed on the tendency of coaches such as Giovanni Trapattoni and Cesare Maldini to have a distrust of Italian players who were based outside Italy.

Since retiring, Amoruso has forged a media career and currently works as a British football analyst for the TV8 television channel, based in Milan.

A characteristic street in Bari
A characteristic street in Bari
Travel tip:

The city of Bari is situated on the Adriatic coast, roughly at the top of the heel of the Italian peninsula, a little more than 260km (162 miles) almost due east of Naples.  It is a busy port with a large commercial and industrial sector but has an interesting old town - Bari Vecchia - which comprises a maze of medieval streets occupying a headland overlooking the harbour. Within the old town are the Cattedrale di San Sebino, the Castello Svevo and the Basilico di San Nicola, which houses the remains of Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus.

The Tower of Marathon at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, home of Fiorentina
The Tower of Marathon at the Stadio
Artemio Franchi, home of Fiorentina
Travel tip:

Florence’s football stadium, the home of Fiorentina, is the Renaissance city’s best example of 20th century architecture.  Named the Stadio Artemio Franchi, after a former president of the Italian Football Federation, it was designed by the great modern architect, Pier Luigi Nervi, who was responsible during a long career for a diverse range of buildings around the world, including the Pirelli Tower in Milan, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in New York City. The focal point of the stadium, which Nervi built entirely of reinforced concrete, is the 70m (230ft) Tower of Marathon that carries the stadium’s flagstaff.  The stadium was originally named after a Florentine fascist, Giovanni Berta, before being changed to Stadio Communale.


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