1 December 2021

1 December

Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci - footballer

Golden boy of Italia ‘90 now coaches future players

The star of Italy’s 1990 World Cup campaign, Toto Schillaci, was born on this day in Palermo in Sicily in 1964.  Schillaci was born into a struggling, working class household. He began his football career with Messina in Sicily, playing in Serie B, but his goals earned him a move to Serie A giants Juventus in 1989.  He hit  21 goals in his first season for Juventus, earning a call-up to the national team. He made his debut in a friendly in March, just three months before the World Cup finals began.  Despite his status as a novice in terms of international football, coach Azeglio Vicini named him for the Italy squad seeking to win the World Cup as hosts.  Schillaci was the sensation of the tournament, coming off the bench to score the only goal in Italy's opening match against Austria.  He made his first start against Czechoslovakia in the third of their group games and scored again. Schillaci grabbed further goals against Uruguay in the first knock-out round and Ireland in the quarter-finals, taking his team to a semi-final against Argentina in Naples, where he scored again but Italy's adventure ended in a penalty shoot-out.  He retired in 1999, returning to his native Palermo, where he set up his own football academy.  Read more…


Lorenzo Ghiberti – sculptor

Goldsmith renowned for 'Gates of Paradise'

Sculptor, goldsmith and architect Lorenzo Ghiberti died on this day in 1455 in Florence.  Part of his legacy were the magnificent doors he created for the Baptistery of the Florence Duomo that have become known as the Gates of Paradise.  Ghiberti had become a man of learning, living up to the image of the early 15th century artist as a student of antiquity, who was investigative, ambitious and highly creative.  His Commentaries - I Commentarii - which he started to write in 1447, include judgements on the great contemporary and 14th century masters as well as his scientific theories on optics and anatomy.  Ghiberti was born in 1378 in Pelago near Florence and was trained as a goldsmith by Bartolo di Michele, whom his mother had married in 1406 but had lived with for some time previously.  Ghiberti took his name from his mother’s first husband, Cione Ghiberti, although he later claimed that Di Michele was his real father.  He moved to Pesaro in 1400 to fulfil a painting commission from the city's ruler, Sigismondo Malatesta, but returned to Florence when he heard about a competition that had been set up to find someone to make a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistery of the cathedral.  Read more…


Alberto Cova - Olympic champion

Los Angeles gold completed 10k hat-trick

Alberto Cova, the athlete who won the 10,000 metres gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, was born on this day in 1958 in Inverigo, a small town not far from Lake Como and a little under 40km (25 miles) north of Milan.  Cova's triumph at the 1984 Los Angeles Games completed a golden hat-trick of 10,000m titles, following on from his gold medals over the distance at the 1982 European Championships in Athens and the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.  He was not able to maintain that form, however.  He was run out of the gold on the final lap of the 10,000m by fellow Italian Stefano Mai at the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986 and failed to qualify for the final at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, which proved to be his last international competition.  Cova's chief asset was his devastating sprint finish, which could be nullified in a race run at a strong pace throughout but often was not.  He was an outsider when he sprang a surprise in Athens in 1982, when his finishing speed enabled him to charge through to beat the favourite, Werner Schildhauer from East Germany, to win his first international championship title.  His disciplined running style enabled him to triumph again in Helsinki the following year.  Read more…


Eugenio Monti - bobsleigh champion

Olympic winner who was honoured for sportsmanship

The double Olympic bobsleigh champion Eugenio Monti, who became the first athlete to be awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship, died on this day in 2003 in Belluno.  Monti was recognised with the award after the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, during which he twice made gestures of selfless generosity towards opponents, both of which arguably cost him the chance of a gold medal.  The preeminent bobsleigh driver in the world going into the 1964 Games and an eight-time world champion in two and four-man events, Monti was desperate to add Olympic golds to his medal collection.  He had won silver in both his specialisations when Italy hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956 and was denied the opportunity to improve on that four years later when the 1960 Games at Squaw Valley in California went ahead with no bobsleigh events, due to the organisers running out of time and money to build a track.  In Innsbruck, Monti and his brakeman Sergio Siorpaes were favourites in the two-man event,  After two runs on the first day, Britain’s Tony Nash and Robin Dixon led the field. Read more…


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