Showing posts with label 1984. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1984. Show all posts

14 August 2018

Giorgio Chiellini - footballer

Juventus star renowned for defensive excellence

Giorgio Chiellini won 97 caps for the Italian national team but missed out on trophies
Giorgio Chiellini won 97 caps for the Italian
national team but missed out on trophies
The footballer Giorgio Chiellini, renowned as one of the world’s best defenders, was born on this day in 1984 in Pisa.

Chiellini has played for much of his career at Juventus, winning an incredible seven consecutive Serie A titles from 2012 to 2018, as well as numerous other trophies.  He was Serie A Defender of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and in 2017 was named in Juventus’s Greatest XI of All Time.

He also earned 97 caps for the Italy national team before announcing his retirement from international football in 2017, establishing himself as an automatic choice in a back three or four under five different coaches.

All of Chiellini’s successes so far have been in domestic football.  He was considered too young and inexperienced to be part of Marcello Lippi’s 2006 World Cup squad and hung up his boots with the azzurri without winning a trophy.

He has also missed out so far on success in European club competitions. He missed the 2015 Champions League final, which Juventus lost to Barcelona in Berlin, and finished on the losing side in the 2017 Champions League final, when the Italian champions were thumped 4-0 by Read Madrid in Cardiff.

Chiellini has won seven consecutive Serie A titles during a 13-year career with Juventus
Chiellini has won seven consecutive Serie A titles during
a 13-year career with Juventus
But he still has hopes of winning a Champions League medal now that Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored two of Real Madrid’s four goals in that match, has joined Juventus for the 2018-19 season.

Chiellini is regarded as a character of contradictions. As a player, he has broken his nose four times and been sent off five times. When he scores a goal he pounds his chest with closed fists. He is the archetypal Italian defender - rugged, ruthless and uncompromising.

Yet away from football he is softly spoken and a lover of literature, a calm and reflective personality not given to excess or displays of temper.

He was brought up in Livorno, a dockyard city on the coast of Tuscany with a seamy side, yet was always a conscientious student and would have left high school for university had he not been occupied with becoming a footballer. In the event, after becoming an established player, he enrolled at the University of Turin, where he completed a laurea - a bachelor’s degree - in economics and commerce and a master's in business administration.

The son of an orthopaedic surgeon, he would have studied medicine but found the work involved incompatible with being a footballer.

Chiellini in action against Cesc Fabregas of Spain
Chiellini in action against Cesc Fabregas of Spain
Growing up, being an enthusiastic follower of the Los Angeles Lakers, he dreamed of playing basketball, before his talent for football won out.

One of twin boys, he joined his local Livorno team at the age of 13. He played as a central midfielder and a winger before settling into the role of left-back, making his senior debut at the age of 17 in 2000.

Livorno then sold him to Roma but he was immediately loaned back to the Tuscan club, before being sold to Juventus, who loaned him to Fiorentina. He finally made his Juventus debut in the 2005-06 season and was part of a title-winning team, although the prize was later taken from them because of the so-called Calciopoli corruption scandal.

Many players left the club after the scandal, which also led to the team’s demotion to Serie B, but Chiellini remained as part of the squad that won promotion under Didier Deschamps in 2006-07 and became a key element in the rebuilding of bianconeri fortunes under a succession of coaches, culminating in three consecutive Serie A titles under Antonio Conte and four more under current coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Chiellini retired from international football in 2017 but is continuing his domestic career
Chiellini retired from international football
in 2017 but is continuing his domestic career
Chiellini made his debut for the Italian national team in November 2004 against Finland under Lippi, at the age of 20. He scored his first of his eight goals for the azzurri three years later.

Roberto Donadoni made him a regular member of the national team, although his first call-up for a major tournament did not get off to the best start. Preparing for the Euro 2008 finals, he collided with the national captain, Fabio Cannavaro, during a training session, with the result that Cannavaro missed the whole tournament.

He made up for that with some impressive performances, particularly against the eventual winners Spain in the quarter-final, which ended in a 0-0 draw before Italy were eliminated in a penalty shoot-out.

Subsequently, Chiellini was one of the first names on the teamsheet for Lippi in his second spell in charge of the national team, and for Cesare Prandelli, Conte and Gian Piero Ventura, even though his international career did not bring him the trophies he probably deserved.

His two World Cups were disappointing, ending in early elimination for Italy in 2010 and 2014, and though Prandelli’s team reached the final of Euro 2012 they were beaten 4-0 by Spain, with Chiellini substituted due to injury.

He announced his retirement from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, beaten in a play-off by Sweden.

In July 2014, Chiellini married his long-time girlfriend Carolina Bonistalli at the Sanctuary of Montenero in Livorno. The couple have a daughter, Nina, born in 2015.

Livorno's elegant Terrazza Mascagni promenade
Livorno's elegant Terrazza Mascagni promenade
Travel tip:

Livorno is the second largest city in Tuscany after Florence, with a population of almost 160,000. Although it is a large commercial port with much related industry, and also suffered extensive damage as a prime target for Allied bombing raids in the Second World War, it retains many attractions, including an elegant sea front – the Terrazza Mascagni - an historic centre – the Venetian quarter – with canals, and a tradition of serving excellent seafood.

The Sanctuary of Montenero in the Livorno Hills
The Sanctuary of Montenero in the Livorno Hills
Travel tip:

The Sanctuary of Montenero, where Chiellini was married, can be found in the village of the same name, part of the area south of the city known as the Livorno Hills. The complex, now elevated to the rank of basilica and maintained by Vallumbrosan monks, originated in the early 17th century and was expanded in the 18th century before a suppression of religious orders in the later part of the century led it to fall into disrepair.  It was fully restored in the last century.  A series of grottos exist behind the church, once a hide-out for robbers and a shelter during the Second World War, but these are now closed over safety concerns.

More reading:

The story of record-breaking coach Massimiliano Allegri

Marcello Lippi and Italy's fourth World Cup

Franco Baresi - Italy's greatest defender?

Also on this day:

1742: The birth of Pope Pius VII

1988: The death of car maker Enzo Ferrari


1 December 2016

Alberto Cova - Olympic champion

Los Angeles gold completed 10k hat-trick

Alberto Cova in his moment of triumph at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
Alberto Cova in his moment of triumph
at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
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 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, when the pace was slow and 13 runners were still in a leading pack at the bell. With only 30m left, Cova was in fifth place, but then found the energy to sprint for the line, passing all four runners in front of him and relegating Schildhauer into second place again.

Cova found the field playing into his hands again in Los Angeles.  The final began at an even slower pace than at Helsinki.  With 4km to go, Finland's Martti Vainio began to accelerate but Cova stayed with him and Vainio could not maintain the quicker pace and Cova swept past him after the bell.  Vainio was subsequently stripped of his silver medal after traces of an anabolic steroid were found in a urine sample.

A qualified accountant, Cova combined his athletics with his office job.  He was nicknamed 'the accountant' in part because of his profession but also because of the meticulous way he kept to his racing plans and stayed faithful to his tactics.

Alberto Cova, pictured in 1987
Alberto Cova, pictured in 1987
Cova won 14 Italian titles, including five cross-country championships, four over 5,000m and two at 10,000m, and attributes his success to his work with the top Italian coach, Giorgio Rondelli, at the Pro Patria athletics club in Milan.

His successes were tarnished somewhat when, in the wake of revelations of organised blood doping by the Italian federation, Cova confessed he had used the process by which the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is increased by the withdrawal and re-infusion of red blood cells.

Blood doping, or blood boosting, can improve performances by 5 per cent.  Yet Cova was never punished.

After his athletics career, Cova became involved in politics and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament in 1994 after winning the Olgiate Comasco seat in Lombardy for Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

Two years later he ran again for the town of Erba but was defeated this time by the Northern League candidate, Cesare Rizzi.

Nowadays, Cova works as a commentator on athletics events for Italian television.

The Villa La Rotonda outside Inverigo
The Villa La Rotonda outside Inverigo
Travel tip:

Inverigo falls into the area of Lombardy known as Brianza, which extends from Monza, just north of Milan, to the triangle of mountainous land that sits between the forks at the southern end of Lake Como.  Brianza is best defined as a cultural, geographical and cultural region, first settled in the second millenium BC.  Inverigo's most interesting building is the Villa Rotonda, a castle built in the early part of the 19th century to a design by Luigi Cagnola inspired by Andrea Palladio's Villa Capra near Vicenza, also commonly known as La Rotonda.

Travel tip:

Erba, the town for which Alberto Cova stood and lost during his career as a politician representing the Forza Italia party, is situated about 10km (six miles) east of Como at the foot of the mountainous area known as the Lombard Prealps.  Its Romanesque church of Sant' Eufemia has an eye-catching 11th century bell tower and there are the remains of a medieval castle.

More reading:

Luigi Beccali - the 1,500m runner who brought home Italy's first track gold

Why the 1960 Olympics in Rome was an historic moment for African athletics

How cyclist Attilio Pavesi won Italy's first Olympic gold on the road

Also on this day:

1964: The birth of Italy's 1990 goals hero Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci


31 October 2016

Eduardo De Filippo - Neapolitan dramatist

Playwright captured essence of city's spirit

A playwright and dramatist, Eduardo De Filippo was also an accomplished actor
A playwright and dramatist, Eduardo De
Filippo was also an accomplished actor
One of Italy’s greatest dramatists, Eduardo De Filippo, died on this day in 1984 in Rome at the age of 84.

An actor and film director as well as a playwright, De Filippo – often referred to simply as Eduardo – is most remembered as the author of a number of classic dramas set in his native Naples in the 1940s that continue to be performed today.

Arguably the most famous of these was Filomena marturano, upon which was based the hit movie Marriage, Italian Style, which starred Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni under the direction of Vittorio de Sica. 

De Filippo’s other memorable works included Napoli Milionaria, Le voci di dentro and Sabato, domenica e lunedi.

All of these plays showcased De Filippo’s ability to capture the essence of life in Naples in his time, particularly in the working class neighbourhoods that he felt were the beating heart of the city.

Rich in Neapolitan dialect, they were often bittersweet comedies of family life. They were social commentaries in which typical themes were the erosion of morals in times of desperation, the struggle of the downtrodden to retain their dignity and the preservation of family values even in the most poverty-stricken households.

Born out of wedlock, the son of a playwright, Eduardo Scarpetta, and the seamstress and costumier Luisa De Filippo, Eduardo was destined for a life in the theatre and appeared in one of his father’s plays at the age of five.

De Filippo often played opposite his sister, Titina
De Filippo often played opposite his sister, Titina
At 32 he formed his own stage company, the ‘Compagnie del Teatro Umoristico i de Filippo’, with his brother Peppino and sister Titina. The trio enjoyed success in films and on the stage in the 1930s but broke up soon after the Second World War.

But it was his plays that were his enduring legacy, for which many critics place him among the greatest of Italian dramatists, in the company of Carlo Goldoni and Luigi Pirandello.

Napoli milionaria (Naples Millionaire), written in 1945 is a realistic drama about a family's involvement in the Italian black market, set against the deprivations of war.He followed this with Questi fantasmi! (Neapoliitan Ghosts), a 1946 comedy in which a husband mistakes his wife's lover for a ghost.

In the same year came Filumena marturano, in which a former prostitute obtains financial stability for her three children by persuading her lover he is the father of one of them, without saying which.

De Filippo continued in 1948 with Le voci di dentro (Inner Voices), in which a man mistakes for reality a dream in which a friend is murdered by neighbours.

De Filippo (right) with the Italian president, Sandro Pertini. De Filippo was made a life senator
De Filippo (right) with the Italian president,
Sandro Pertini. De Filippo was made a life senator
His work became popular outside Italy.  In 1972, with his own production company, he took Naples Millionaire to London. The following year, the National Theatre in London produced Saturday, Sunday, Monday, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, with Joan Plowright and Frank Finlay. It won the London drama critics’ award as the best play of the year.

De Filippo, who had begun directing films in 1940, had some success as a director in the 1950s, his films largely light comedies.

In 1979, Laurence Olivier directed Frank Finlay and Joan Plowright in Filumena. Later, Sir Ralph Richardson had the final role of his career, playing Don Alberto, in the National Theatre's 1983 production of Inner Voices.

Filumena remains popular in Russia, where it is not forgotten that, in the 1960s in Moscow, the audience demanded and were granted 24 curtain calls after Eduardo's own company performed the work.

Napoli Milionaria, which opened at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in March,1945, featuring Eduardo himself, became a film in 1951, with him in the leading role. It was also adapted as an opera with music by the film composer, Nino Rota, and a libretto written by Eduardo himself. It opened in June 1977 at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto.

In 1981, De Filippo was appointed life senator of the Italian Republic. He died three years later.

The sumptuous interior of the Teatro San Carlo
The sumptuous interior of the Teatro San Carlo
Travel tip:

The Teatro San Carlo, Europe’s oldest theatre and opera house, suffered bomb damage during the war and its rebirth was a testament to the determination of Neapolitans not to allow their city’s heritage to be crushed. After one raid in 1943, the foyer that runs the whole length of the theatre suffered blast damage, many of the boxes were unusable, the dressing rooms were hit, the scenery and paint shop, the costume and wardrobe stores left beyond repair. Yet within a week the theatre was up and running again and staging musical productions. De Filippo’s play. Napoli Milionaria, which premiered there in 1945, was hailed for reflecting the city’s resourcefulness in the most testing of circumstances.

Travel tip:

Although Italian spoken by Neapolitans is often clear and easy to follow if you have some acquaintance with the language, dialect is widely used and many words differ from standard Italian. For a tomato, for example, Neapolitans say pummarola rather than pomodoro; for boy or girl they use the word guaglio/a rather than ragazzo/a; and for this and that (questo e quello) they say chisto and chillo.  In O Sole Mio, the famous Neapolitan song, the ‘O’ means ‘the’, as in ‘The sun of mine’ not ‘Oh sun of mine’.

More reading:

Roberto Benigni - Oscar winning director and star of Life is Beautiful

Arnold FoĆ  - versatile actor still doing stage work in his 90s

Anna Magnani - earthy character actress who won over Rossellini