Showing posts with label AC Milan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AC Milan. Show all posts

29 November 2022

Luigi ‘Gigi’ Peronace - football agent

Calabrian facilitated string of transfers to Italy

Luigi 'Gigi' Peronace is seen by some as football's original players' agent
Luigi 'Gigi' Peronace is seen by some
as football's original players' agent
The football agent Luigi ‘Gigi’ Peronace, who brokered the transfer deals that saw leading British stars from John Charles to Liam Brady play in Italy’s Serie A, was born in the Calabrian seaside town of Soverato on this day in 1925.

Agents are commonplace in football today but they were an almost unknown phenomenon when Peronace set up in business in the 1950s and he is widely accepted as the first of his kind, certainly in terms of building a ‘stable’ of clients.

The charismatic Peronace’s ability to charm all parties in transfer deals - buyer, seller and player - led to him becoming an influential figure in football in both Italy and the United Kingdom over a 25-year period.

Charles, the Welsh giant whose talents persuaded Juventus to almost double the British transfer fee record when they paid Leeds United £65,000 for his services in 1957, remains Peronace’s most famous deal, although he was instrumental in introducing other big-name British players to the Italian game, including the prolific Chelsea and England striker Jimmy Greaves and Scotland’s Denis Law.

Peronace’s first taste of football was as a player in the 1940s with the Calabrian team Reggina, for whom he kept goal despite being quite a small man. Evidence of his skills as a Mr Fixit were emerging even then, as a teenager, when he arranged football matches between English and Australian soldiers and local Calabrian teams.

After the end of the Second World War, Peronace moved to Turin to study engineering. Already with good English, he took a job with Juventus, who needed an interpreter to help their new Scottish coach, William Chalmers. When Chalmers was dismissed after one season, the Turin club hired an Englishman, Jesse Carver, to look after the team.

John Charles, who joined Juventus
from Leeds United in 1957
Carver likewise did not stay long, despite winning the Serie A title in his first season in charge. He soon returned to England to manage West Bromwich Albion. But he was back in Italy a year later and invited Peronace to work with him again at Lazio. It was Carver who first told Peronace about John Charles, a tall, powerfully built man who had been converted from a centre-half by Leeds United to one of the most prolific centre-forwards in England.

Intrigued, as soon as his time at Lazio had ended Peronace travelled to England to see Charles in person, contacted the Juventus president Umberto Agnelli and persuaded the Turin club that they should spend whatever it took to sign him.

It took Peronace two years to convince Leeds to sell and Charles to move, but in August 1957, the deal was done. It made headlines, of course, not just for the size of transfer fee but for what the player himself was offered. Juventus gave him an apartment for his family, a Fiat car and a £10,000 signing-on fee - this at a time when the signing-on fee for players moving between English clubs could be as little as £10.

The Charles deal was not Peronace’s first. While wooing Charles and Leeds, he had arranged for South African-born Eddie Firmani, who had Italian heritage, to join Sampdoria from Charlton Athletic. But it was the Charles transfer that gave him credibility.

The Welshman would go on to score 108 goals in 155 matches for Juventus, helping them win the scudetto - the colloquial name for the Serie A trophy - three times and the domestic cup competition, the Coppa Italia, twice.

Peronace helped Charles settle in Turin but in 1961 he returned to England, moved into a plush apartment in Knightsbridge and from there pulled off more headline-making deals. He helped Aston Villa’s Gerry Hitchens move to Inter-Milan, persuaded AC Milan to sign Jimmy Greaves, and Torino to take both Denis Law and the English-born, Scottish-raised striker Joe Baker.

Peronace's close friend, the  pipe-smoking Enzo Bearzot
Peronace's close friend, the 
pipe-smoking Enzo Bearzot
While Hitchins, like Charles, enjoyed significant success, the last-named trio failed to settle in Italy, although it was to the advantage of Peronace, who negotiated their transfers again, helping Greaves return to London with Tottenham, Law team up with Matt Busby at Manchester United and Baker make a fresh start with Arsenal.

Always immaculately dressed in the most expensive Italian clothes, Peronace’s natural charm enabled him to befriend the most powerful figures in both English and Italian football, which opened doors in both countries. This was especially useful to him after the abolition of English maximum wage lessened the attraction to players of moving abroad.

A close friend of Sir Denis Follows, the secretary of the English Football Association, he used his contacts to help establish the Anglo-Italian Cup competition.

In Italy, he became a close friend of Enzo Bearzot and worked with him for the Italian Football Federation at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

Peronace would doubtless have been alongside Bearzot when Italy’s pipe-smoking coach guided the azzurri to their World Cup triumph in Spain 1982 had fate not tragically intervened 18 months earlier.

As the national team prepared to leave for a tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay in December 1980, Peronace was at a hotel in Rome when he suffered a fatal heart attack, dying in Bearzot’s arms at the age of just 55, leaving a wife and five children.  Liam Brady's move to Juventus from Arsenal earlier that year was the last high-profile deal in which he was involved.

The coast around Soverato is famed for an abundance of white, sandy beaches
The coast around Soverato is famed for an
abundance of white, sandy beaches
Travel tip:

Soverato, where Gigi Peronace was born, is situated on the Ionian coast of Calabria, about 37km (23 miles) south of the city of Catanzaro. If the map of Italy is seen as a leg, Soverato is at the point on the underside of the foot at the beginning of the big toe. With a population of fewer than 10,000 and an area of less than eight square kilometres, it is a small town yet thanks to its location on the Gulf of Squillace, notable for its white, sandy beaches, has become the wealthiest town per capita in Calabria with a bright modern promenade, apartment buildings and hotels and a botanical garden established on a reclaimed waste site in 1980. There is little of historical note save for a Pietà sculpted by Antonello Gagini from a block of Carrara marble in 1521, which was recovered from the nearby convent of Santa Maria della Pietà after an earthquake in 1783 and is now kept in the town’s church of Maria Santissima Addolorata. 

John Charles scoring a goal at a packed Stadio Comunale, which was Juventus's home ground
John Charles scoring a goal at a packed Stadio
Comunale, which was Juventus's home ground
Travel tip:

Juventus today play at the modern Allianz Stadium, their 41,500-capacity home in the Vallette borough of Turin, about 6km (3.7 miles) northwest from the city centre. When John Charles signed for them in 1957, Juventus shared the Stadio Comunale with city rivals Torino.  Situated around four kilometres south of the centre in the Santa Rita district, it was known as the Stadio Municipale Benito Mussolini after it was opened in 1933, being renamed Stadio Comunale after World War II, and further renamed the Stadio Olimpico after being chosen to host the opening and closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in 2006.  Torino left the stadium with Juventus in 1990 to play at the Stadio delle Alpi, forerunner of the Allianz, but returned to the Olimpico in 2006.

Also on this day:

1463: The birth of antiquities collector Cardinal Andrea della Valle

1466: The birth of banker Agostino Chigi

1797: The birth of opera composer Gaetano Donizetti

1850: The birth of soldier and cardinal Agostino Richelmy


9 September 2021

Roberto Donadoni - footballer and coach

Understated midfielder who helped AC Milan win six Serie A titles

Roberto Donadoni is now a coach after a hugely successful playing career
Roberto Donadoni is now a coach after
a hugely successful playing career
The footballer and coach Roberto Donadoni, who was a key figure in an AC Milan side that dominated Italian football for the best part of a decade, was born on this day in 1963 in Cisano Bergamasco in Lombardy.

A winger or midfielder famed for his ability to create goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates, Donadoni was once described by the brilliant French attacker Michel Platini as ‘the best Italian footballer of the 1990s’.

His collection of 21 winner’s medals includes six for winning the Serie A title with AC Milan and three for the European Cup or Champions League.

He was also part of the Italian national team that reached the final of the World Cup in 1994, losing to Brazil on penalties.

Donadoni was never a prolific goalscorer: in more than 500 league and international matches, he found the net only 34 times. Yet he had exceptional technical ability and great passing skills and if tallies of ‘assists’ in matches had been recorded during his career as they are now, the role he played in Milan’s success in particular would be appreciated still more.

Since ending his career as a player, Donadoni has totted up 450 matches as a coach, taking charge at seven clubs in Italian football and one in China, as well as having a stint as head coach of the national team. Although he led the Azzurri to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, he has yet to win a trophy as a coach.

Donadoni won six Serie A titles with AC Milan
Donadoni won six Serie A
titles with AC Milan
Born within the province of Bergamo, it was natural for Donadoni to launch his professional career with Atalanta, the club based in Bergamo, the Lombardy region’s fourth largest city. He joined the club’s youth system and made his debut in Serie C at the age of 18, winning the Serie C1 title in his first season.

Two years later, in 1984, he helped Atalanta return to Serie A after an absence of five seasons, as Serie B champions. His youthful talent did not go unnoticed and in 1986 he moved to AC Milan, one of the first signings made following Silvio Berlusconi’s takeover of the club.

It was not long before he was playing in front of defenders such as Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Mauro Tassotti and behind strikers of the calibre of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and George Weah as the Milan teams coached by Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello swept all before them.

He was part of the team that Sacchi led to the 1987-88 Serie A title, Milan’s first for nine years, which went on to win the European Cup in 1989 and 1990, the first team to retain the trophy since Nottingham Forest a decade earlier.

Under Capello, who succeeded Sacchi when the latter was appointed to coach the national team, Donadoni won four scudetti - the scudetto being the shield-shaped badge worn on the shirts of the reigning champions - in the space of five seasons, as well as another European Cup, by then rebranded as the Champions League, in 1994.

Donadoni has gained respect as a coach, although he has yet to enjoy tangible success
Donadoni has gained respect as a coach, although
he has yet to enjoy tangible success
After his fifth domestic title, Donadoni left the club, initially intending to retire but then accepting on offer to extend his career in the United States with the Metrostars, where his form not only prompted a recall to the Italian national team but a further stint with AC Milan, where he was part of Alberto Zaccheroni's team that won Serie A in 1998-99.

Regarded as the most dedicated and selfless of players, he was once quoted as saying that his greatest satisfaction on the football field came from “making the pass that leads to the goal”.

In his international career, Donadoni made his senior debut for the Azzurri in 1986 and was a key member of the team that finished third in the 1990 World Cup on home soil under Azeglio Vicini, although the tournament was marred for him by missing one of Italy’s penalties in the shoot-out that determined their semi-final against Argentina, which was won by the South American side.

He went one better in the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Reunited with his former Milan coach Sacchi, he helped the Italians reach the final in Pasadena, but was again on the losing side after a penalty shoot-out, with Brazil taking the prize. This time, Donadoni was spared the responsibility of taking one of the kicks.

He retired for good in 2000, having helped Al-Ittihad win the Saudi Premier League title.

Since then he has built a second career as a coach. Following the traditional Italian route of working his way up through the lower divisions, Donadoni took his first coaching job with Lecco - just 15km (nine miles) north of his hometown of Cisano Bergamasco - and has since had another nine coaching contracts with eight clubs, as well as a two-year spell as head coach of the national team. 

He was sacked as Azzurri coach after Italy’s disappointing performance at Euro 2008 and had the misfortune to be in charge at Parma as the once highly-successful club plunged towards bankruptcy for a second time in 2015, when he was applauded for sticking by his players - unsuccessfully, in the end - as they battled to avoid relegation from Serie A, despite going unpaid for a year.

The new church of San Zenone in Cisano Bergamasco
The new church of San Zenone in
Cisano Bergamasco
Travel tip:

The small town of Cisano Bergamasco is in the San Martino valley, which straddles the provinces of Lecco, 15km (nine miles) to the north, and Bergamo, 20km (12 miles) to the southeast. It is also close to the lakeside city of Como, some 40km (25 miles) to the west. Although there has been a settlement in the area since Roman times, and some remains of the medieval Vimercati-Sozzi Castle are preserved within the grounds of a private villa, the Cisano Bergamasco of today is typical of the pleasant, well-maintained municipalities to be found in much of northern Italy.

Lecco sits alongside the beautiful Lago di Lecco, the eastern fork of Lake Como
Lecco sits alongside the beautiful Lago
di Lecco, the eastern fork of Lake Como
Travel tip:

Lecco, where Roberto Donadoni took his first steps in coaching, lies at the end of the south eastern branch of Lago di Como, which is known as Lago di Lecco. The Bergamo Alps rise to the north and east of the lake. The writer Alessandro Manzoni lived in Lecco for part of his life and based his famous novel, I promessi sposi, there. 

Also on this day:

1908: The birth of writer Cesare Pavese

1918: The birth of former Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro

1943: Allied troops land at Salerno, south of Naples

1982: The birth of photographer and film director Francesco Carrozzini


30 July 2021

Adriano Galliani - entrepreneur, politician and football executive

Businessman was CEO of AC Milan in golden era 

Adriano Galliani was AC Milan's chief executive for 21 mostly successful years
Adriano Galliani was AC Milan's chief
executive for 21 mostly successful years
The entrepreneur Adriano Galliani, who was chief executive of AC Milan for 21 years, was born on this day in 1944 in Monza, the Lombardy city a little under 20km (12 miles) north of Milan.

With Galliani at the helm, Milan won the Serie A title eight times and were five-times winners of the Champions League in what was a golden era for the club.

Galliani became CEO at the club in 1986 when the ownership transferred to Silvio Berlusconi, the businessman and future prime minister with whom he had created the commercial TV company Mediaset.

He was responsible for some of the club’s most spectacular player signings, persuading such global stars as Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, George Weah, Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka to sign for the club.

All five won the Ballon D’Or, the annual award given to the player judged to the best player in all the European leagues, during their time with the club.

Since 2018, Galliani has held a seat in the Senate of the Italian parliament as a representative of Forza Italia, the political party founded by Berlusconi.

Galliani (left) and Silvio Berlusconi were business partners before they took charge at AC Milan
Galliani (left) and Silvio Berlusconi were business
partners before they took charge at AC Milan
Galliani hailed from a middle class family in Monza. His father was an official on the local council, his mother the owner of a small transport company. She died when he was only 15 years old, a loss he has described in interviews as devastating.

He trained as a surveyor and worked on various projects in Monza for eight years but had an entrepreneurial spirit which he claims he inherited from his mother and made his first commercial investment in a bathing establishment at Vieste on the Adriatic coast, near Foggia, some 810km (503 miles) from his hometown.

But the gamble that would change his life came in 1975, when he bought Elettronica Industriale, a company based near Monza at Lissone, which made the equipment needed to send and receive television signals.

The owner, Ottorino Barbuti, was one of many businessmen in Italy at that time who were worried about the rise of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), fearful that they if they were successful enough in parliamentary elections to form a government they would take the opportunity to seize private businesses and put them in public ownership.

Galliani, a Christian Democrat supporter, had more faith in the status quo being maintained and Elettronica Industriale prospered, becoming a supplier to Telemontecarlo, at the time the most successful private TV channel in Italy.

Galliani, with Dutch players Michael Reiziger (left) and Edgar Davids, was responsible for recruitment
Galliani, with Dutch players Michael Reiziger (left)
and Edgar Davids, was responsible for recruitment 
Meanwhile, Berlusconi had launched Italy’s first private television network, TeleMilano, serving the new town of Milano Due he had built with his property company, Edilnord, and had ambitions to launch a nationwide network to challenge the national public broadcaster, Rai.

The two met for the first time in November, 1979, when Berlusconi invited him for dinner at Villa San Martino, his house at Arcore in the province of Monza and Brianza. Berlusconi spelled out his ambition to launch three national commercial channels to rival the three state channels that came under the Rai umbrella and Galliani put forward the proposition to create a national network of antennae to broadcast Berlusconi’s channels.  

Berlusconi bought 50 per cent of Elettronica Industriale and together he and Galliani changed the face of Italian television, adding Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 to the choice of channels available to Italian viewers.

When Berlusconi bought AC Milan in 1986 it was natural he would turn to Galliani, a football enthusiast, to help him fulfil his dream of winning major titles with the rossoneri.  Working together, they would enjoy unparalleled success.

Galliani is now CEO at his home town club, AC Monza
Galliani is now CEO at his
home town club, AC Monza
Coached by Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan won eight Serie A titles and were European champions five times, although their run of success ended in 2011 with the power in Italian football shifting to Juventus.

Galliani’s judgment in the transfer market came under scrutiny, with his decision to allow midfielder Andrea Pirlo to leave Milan on a free transfer in 2011 seen as a symbolic mistake, the World Cup winner signing for Juventus and going on to have some of the best years of his career.

Berlusconi sold AC Milan in 2017, at which point Galliani ceased to be CEO, although he remained involved in the Berlusconi business empire as a director of Berlusconi’s Fininvest company and president of Mediaset Premium.

He returned to football in 2018 as CEO of his hometown club, Monza, which had been bought by Berlusconi and was soon promoted to Serie B of the championship.

In February, 2021, Galliani contracted Covid-19 and spent 10 days in intensive care in the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. On discharge, he admitted he feared he would die from the disease and that, after being confined to a windowless ICU, being back on a normal ward felt like being in the best room in a five-star hotel.

Married three times, Galliani has a grandson, Adrian, who was born in New York in 2001 and currently plays as a midfielder for the Greek club Olympiacos, having had a brief spell in England with Nottingham Forest.

The beautiful town of Vieste sits at the tip of the Gargano peninsula in Puglia
The beautiful town of Vieste sits at the tip of
the Gargano peninsula in Puglia
Travel tip:

Vieste, where Galliani invested in a bathing facility in the early part of his business career, is a beautiful fishing port and tourist resort at the tip of the Gargano peninsula in Puglia, a little over 90km (55 miles) east of the city of Foggia. Part of the Gargano National Park, it sits on a stretch of coastline unusual for its combination of long, sandy beaches and rocky coves. At the end of one stretch of beach is the Pizzomunno, a 25m (82ft) limestone monolith separated by erosion from the adjacent cliffs. The town, which was regularly attacked by pirates, Saracens and other enemies of the Kingdom of Naples in medieval times, also has an attractive historic centre in which the milky white stone of the buildings contrasts with the emerald green of the sea.

Monza's Duomo has an attractive facade in white and green marble
Monza's Duomo has an attractive
facade in white and green marble 
Travel tip:

Monza, where Galliani was born, is about 15km (9 miles) to the north east of Milan. It is famous for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which hosts the Formula One Italian Grand Prix. The city is also home to the Iron Crown of Lombardy, a circlet of gold with a central iron band, which according to legend, was beaten out of a nail from Christ’s true cross and was found by Saint Helena in the Holy Land. The crown is believed to have been given to the city of Monza in the sixth century and is kept in a chapel in the Cathedral of Saint John. When Napoleon Bonaparte was declared King of Italy in 1805, he was crowned in the Duomo in Milan and the Iron Crown had to be fetched from Monza before the ceremony. During his coronation, Napoleon is reported to have picked up the precious relic, announced that God had given it to him, and placed it on his own head.

Also on this day:

1626: Naples earthquake and tsunami kills 70,000 people

1909: The birth of chemist Vittorio Erspamer

2006: The death of film director Michelangelo Antonio


21 March 2021

AC Milan agree world record fee for Ruud Gullit

Signing of Dutch star sparked new era of success

Ruud Gullit's arrival at AC Milan signalled  the start of a new period of success
Ruud Gullit's arrival at AC Milan signalled 
the start of a new period of success
A new golden era in the history of the AC Milan football club effectively began on this day in 1987 when the club agreed a world record transfer fee of £6 million - the equivalent of about £14.5 million (€16.8 million) today - to sign the attacking midfielder Ruud Gullit from the Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven.

The captain of The Netherlands international team that would be crowned European champions the following year, Gullit was regarded as one of the world’s best players at the time and his arrival in Milan caused huge excitement.

Thousands of Milan supporters turned out to greet him on the day he arrived in the city, so many that the car taking him from the airport to the club’s headquarters needed a police escort with sirens blaring in order to forge a path through the crowds.

Those fans correctly sensed that Gullit’s signing would bring a change of fortunes for the rossoneri after a dark period in their history.

Traditionally one of Italian football’s most powerful clubs, Milan had won the scudetto - the Italian championship - for the 10th time in 1979 but the following year were embroiled in the match-fixing scandal known as Totonero and as a punishment were relegated to Serie B - the second division - for the first time in their history.

Arrigo Sacchi guided Milan to two European Cups
Arrigo Sacchi guided Milan
to two European Cups
A difficult few years followed, taking the club to the brink of bankruptcy until the entrepreneur and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi - later to be Italy’s prime minister four times - stepped in as their saviour.

Berlusconi hired the up-and-coming coach Arrigo Sacchi to look after the team and was prepared to back up his ambitions for the club by spending big in the transfer market.

Gullit, whose game combined physical power with deft footwork, pinpoint passing and a striker’s eye for goal, signed within a few weeks of his Netherlands team-mate Marco van Basten, who had been a prolific goalscorer for Ajax.  The fee for Gullit broke the world record set by rivals Napoli when they signed Diego Maradona from Barcelona for £5 million in 1984. 

The signing of the two high-profile Dutch stars, who would be joined by another in compatriot Frank Rijkaard the following year, represented a statement of intent by Berlusconi as Sacchi built a team that also boasted some exceptional home-grown talent in Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Donadoni.

After finishing the 1987-87 season with PSV as their leading scorer with 22 goals and a second consecutive championship medal, Gullit made his Serie A debut for Milan in August 1987 in a 3-1 win away to Pisa, scoring Milan’s second goal with a header. Van Basten would add a third from the penalty spot.

With Gullit scoring nine goals from 29 appearances, Milan won the scudetto for the first time in nine years – finishing three points ahead of Maradona’s Napoli, who had won the title for the first time in their history in the previous year.

Gullit (centre) and Dutch team-mates Frank Rijkaard (left) and Marco Van Basten transformed Milan
Gullit (centre) and Dutch team-mates Frank Rijkaard
(left) and Marco Van Basten transformed Milan
During his time with Milan - with Sacchi and then Fabio Capello in charge - Gullit won another two Serie titles, two Supercoppe Italiane and two European Cups. He scored 56 goals in 171 games along the way.

Sacchi’s team reached their peak in the 1988-89 season. Although they finished only third in Serie A, behind city rivals Inter-Milan and Napoli, they produced two of the best performances by any team to win the European Cup, thrashing Real Madrid 5-0 in the second leg of their semi-final before demolishing Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in the final at Barcelona's Nou Camp, with Gullit and Van Basten each scoring twice in front of 98,000 fans.  

Under Sacchi's guidance, Milan won the European Cup again in 1989-90, defeating Benfica in the final, Van Basten scoring the only goal.

Gullit, who went on to play for Sampdoria and Chelsea after leaving San Siro, later said that the 1989 Milan team was the best he had played in. 

Although Sacchi left to take over as head coach of the Italian national team in 1991, guiding the azzurri to the World Cup final in 1994 (famously losing to Brazil on penalties after talisman Roberto Baggio’s miss), AC Milan’s success continued with four Serie A titles in five years and the 1993-94 Champions League title under Capello, which meant the club were champions of Italy six times and of Europe three times in just nine seasons.

AC Milan train at the Milanello Sports Centre 40km northwest of the city
AC Milan train at the Milanello Sports
Centre 40km northwest of the city
Travel tip:

Although AC Milan’s home ground is the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, often known as San Siro after the suburb of Milan in which it is situated, the club’s day-to-day base is Milanello Sports Centre, commonly referred to as simply Milanello, where the team trains. Built in 1963, the centre, which has six outdoor pitches, is spread over 160,000 square metres (1,700,000 sq ft), which includes a pinewood and a lake. It is situated close to the towns of Carnago, Cassano Magnago and Cairate, in the province of Varese, about 40km (25 miles) northwest of Milan. Milanello has in the past been used by the Italian national team in their preparations for major championships. 

Hotels in Carnago by

The impressive trophy room at AC Milan's Mondo Milan museum in Milan
The impressive trophy room at AC Milan's
Mondo Milan museum in Milan
Travel tip:

Football fans can learn more about Arrigo Sacchi's success and that of all the AC Milan teams in the club's 117-year history by looking round the Mondo Milan Museum, which has a large collection of historic memorabilia as well as many interactive features.  It can be found within the Casa Milan, the club's new city headquarters - not to be confused with its stadium - in the Portello district, about 6km (4 miles) northwest of the city centre. The museum includes a trophy room that has replicas and originals of the club’s 42 major trophies, including an enormous replica of the Champions League trophy that measures 3m tall and weighs 800kg.

Also on this day:

1474: The birth of Saint Angela Merici, who founded the monastic Ursuline Order

1858: The saints day of nun Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

1918: The birth of Alberto Marvelli, wartime Good Samaritan 

(Milanello picture by Razzairpina via Wikimedia Commons)


5 February 2019

Cesare Maldini - footballer and coach

Enjoyed success with AC Milan as player and manager

Cesare Maldini took Italy to the quarter-finals of the 1998  World Cup in France after success with the Under-21s
Cesare Maldini took Italy to the quarter-finals of the 1998
World Cup in France after success with the Under-21s
The footballer and coach Cesare Maldini, who won four Serie A titles and an historic European Cup as a centre half with AC Milan and later coached the club with success in domestic and European football, was born on this day in 1932 in Trieste.

When, under Maldini’s captaincy, Milan beat Benfica 2–1 at Wembley Stadium in London in May 1963, they became the first Italian club to win the European Cup and Maldini the first Italian captain to lift the trophy.

Maldini’s international career included an 18-month spell as coach of the Italy national team, during which the Azzurri reached the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup. He had earlier won three consecutive European championships as coach of the Italy Under-21s.

He is the father of Paolo Maldini, the former AC Milan defender whose record-breaking career spanned 25 years and included no fewer than five winner’s medals from the European Cup and its successor, the Champions League. Cesare’s grandson, Christian - Paolo’s son - is also a professional player for Pro Piacenza in Serie C.

As a child, Cesare Maldini was largely brought up by his mother, Maria. His father, Albino Maldini, who originated from Padua, was a merchant seaman who was often at sea for long periods. The family also owned a small bakery.

Cesare Maldini was captain of the Milan team  who became Italy's first European champions
Cesare Maldini was captain of the Milan team
 who became Italy's first European champions
Maldini trained for a career as a dental technician but by the age of 20 had made his debut for his home town club, Triestina, then in Serie A. The next season he was appointed the team’s captain.

After two seasons with Triestina, Maldini joined AC Milan, making his debut in September 1954 against his former team, coincidentally. A strong Milan team that included included the great Swedish forwards Nils Liedholm and Gunnar Nordahl, and the Uruguay-born playmaker Juan Alberto Schiaffino, won 4-0.

Maldini was unawed by playing in such company and soon became a regular starter, winning his first league title in his debut season.

He went on to make more than 400 appearances for the club in all competitions, keeping the captain’s armband for five years after being appointed in 1961. He was succeeded in the role by another rossoneri great, Gianni Rivera.

Milan won the European Cup under the coaching of Nereo Rocco, who also hailed from Trieste and formed a strong bond with Maldini. When Rocco left to take charge of Torino in 1966, he took his trusted centre half with him, ending Maldini’s 12-year association with Milan.

Maldini with Enzo Bearzot, to whom he was assistant head coach at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, which Italy won
Maldini with Enzo Bearzot, to whom he was assistant head
coach at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, which Italy won
After only season in Turin, however, the pair returned to San Siro, Rocco resuming as coach with Maldini his assistant.  In tandem, they won the European Cup again in 1967, defeating Johann Cruyff and his Ajax teammates in the final.

For a while, Maldini was head coach, with Rocco as technical director, and he won the European Cup-Winners’ Cup and the Coppa Italia in the 1972-73 season. Yet he was still sacked the following season after Milan  failed to mount a credible challenge for the Championship.

Maldini went on to coach Foggia, Ternana and then Parma, where he discovered Carlo Ancelotti and won promotion to Serie B, before graduating to international football as assistant to Enzo Bearzot on the Azzurri coaching staff. Two years later, the were in the technical area as Italy won the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

It was as coach of the Italy Under-21s that Maldini found his métier. In his 10 years in that job, as well as steering the Azzurrini to three consecutive European titles in 1992, 1994 and 1996, he brought through countless future stars, including Fabio Cannavaro, Christian Panucci, Filippo InzaghiChristian Vieri, Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Totti.

Paolo Maldini followed his father in  signing for AC Milan
Paolo Maldini followed his father in
signing for AC Milan
He took over as coach of the senior side when Arrigo Sacchi resigned midway through the 1996-97 season.  It was an achievement to qualify for the 1998 World Cup given the difficult situation Maldini inherited, yet after clinching their place at the finals in France via a play-off, Maldini’s Azzurri exceeded expectations by reaching the last eight.

They remained unbeaten, in fact, going out in a penalty shoot-out to the hosts and eventual champions, France, after a goalless draw in Saint-Denis.

Despite this creditable performance, Maldini was heavily criticised in the Italian media for being too defensive in his outlook, commentators complaining about the omission of the brilliantly talented Gianfranco Zola from his squad and his reluctance to have Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero, two creative players he did take, on the field at the same time.

As a result, Maldini resigned at the end of the tournament.  After a brief return to the bench at AC Milan for the last few games of the 2000-01 season, he accepted the head coach position with the Paraguay national team for the 2002 World Cup, for which they had already qualified.

At 70 he was at the time the oldest coach to be in charge of a national side at a World Cup tournament. Paraguay were good enough to reach the last 16, where they were unlucky to lose to a last-minute goal against Germany, who went on to reach the final.

Maldini remained in football as a scout and then a TV pundit. He died in Milan in 2016, his funeral at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio attended by many former players.  His widow, Marisa, passed away a few months later.

Trieste's vast Piazza Unità d'Italia is the focal point of the port city in northeastern Italy
Trieste's vast Piazza Unità d'Italia is the focal point
of the port city in northeastern Italy
Travel tip:

Maldini’s home city, the port of Trieste, capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, did not officially become part of the Italian Republic until 1954. It had been disputed territory for centuries and after it was granted to Italy in 1920, thousands of the resident Slovenians left. The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo. The area today is one of the most prosperous in Italy and Trieste is a lively, cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.  It also has a coffee house culture dating back to the Hapsburg era. Caffè Tommaseo, in Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, is the oldest coffee house in the city, dating back to 1830.

The atrium of the Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio in Milan, where Cesare Maldini's funeral took place
The atrium of the Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio in Milan,
where Cesare Maldini's funeral took place
Travel tip:

One of the most ancient churches in Milan, the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio was built by Saint Ambrose himself between 379–386, while he was Bishop of Milan. One of several new churches he had constructed, it was built in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The first name of the church, in fact, was the Basilica Martyrum. It was only later that it was renamed in Saint Ambrose’s honour. Initially, the basilica was outside the city of Milan, but over time the city grew up around it. In 789, a monastery was established within the grounds and for a while two separate religious communities shared the basilica. Its two towers symbolise this division.

More reading:

Enzo Bearzot, the pipe-smoking maestro behind Italy's 1982 World Cup glory

The brilliant career of Paolo Maldini

How Arrigo Sacchi's tactics transformed Italian football

Also on this day:

The Feast Day of Saint Agatha of Sicily

1578: The death of painter Giovanni Battista Moroni

1964: The birth of footballer and coach Carolina Morace

(Picture credits: Piazza Unità by Welleschik; Basilica by Óðinn via Creative Commons)


10 December 2018

Giuseppe 'Peppino' Prisco - lawyer and football administrator

Vice-president who became Inter Milan icon

Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
Giuseppe Prisco, a legend at Inter, proudly
wears the feathered hat from his Alpini uniform
The lawyer and football administrator Giuseppe Prisco, who served as a senior figure in the running of the Internazionale football club in Milan for more than half a century, was born on this day in 1921.

Universally known as Peppino, he managed to combine a career in legal practice with a passion for Inter that he would share so publicly he became a symbol of the club whose name was chanted on the terraces.

Born in Milan into a family with its roots in Torre Annunziata, near Naples, he was said to have fallen in love with the nerazzurri at seven years old in 1929, when he witnessed his first derby against AC Milan at Inter’s old stadium, the Campo Virgilio Fossati, between Via Goldoni and Piazza Novelli to the east of the city centre.

His career as a lawyer did not begin until after he had served with the Alpini - the mountain troops of the Italian Army - on the Russian front in the Second World War. He was only 18 when he joined up but reached the rank of lieutenant in the “L’Aquila” battalion of the 9th Alpine Regiment, and as one of only three officers from 53 to return alive from the Russian front was awarded a Silver Medal for Military Valour by the Italian government.

On returning to civilian life, he graduated in law at the University of Milan and became a registered practising lawyer in 1946, opening his own office in the city, the start of a business that would bring him success and kudos for decades.

Prisco was for many years the president of the Milanese Bar Association
Prisco was for many years the president of the
Milanese Bar Association
He was president of the Milanese Bar Association for many years and participated in numerous high profile trials, including that of the controversial Milan banker Roberto Calvi on embezzlement charges in 1981.  Calvi was released on bail pending an appeal and a year later was found in dead in London.

Prisco joined his beloved Inter in 1949 as club secretary and thereafter served as a legal advisor to the board of directors before being elected vice-president in 1963, a position he held until his death in 2001, two days after his 80th birthday.

During his time as a director of the club, Inter won six Serie A titles, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups, three UEFA Cups, two Coppa Italia titles and one Italian Super Cup.

Fans took him to their hearts after he used his legal expertise to force UEFA to overturn a defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the UEFA Cup in 1971 after the Inter forward Roberto Boninsegna had to be taken off after being struck by a can thrown from the crowd.  Inter won the rematch.

He also endeared himself to the nerazzurri faithful with the sharp one-liners he would frequently deliver during television interviews when he was given the opportunity to talk about the club’s great rivals.

Prisco was presented with a special Inter shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Prisco was presented with a special Inter
shirt to mark his 50 years with the club
Famously, he once said: "If I shake hands with a Milanese, I wash my hands, if I shake hands with a Juventus (fan), I count my fingers.”

On another occasion, he declared: “I’m against every form of racism but I’d never allow my daughter to marry a Milan player.”

At the end of the 1990s, he became a regular guest on TV sports shows such as Controcampo, in which he would often have humourous spats with presenters Diego Abatantuono and Giampiero Mughini.

Married to Maria Irene, he had two children: Luigi Maria, who followed him into the legal profession, and Anna Maria.  After his death from a heart attack, he was buried at Arcisate, a town in the province of Varese, about 70km (43 miles) north of Milan.

One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
One of the neoclassical arches that form the entrances
to Napoleon's Arena Civica in Milan
Travel tip:

Inter have shared the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in San Siro with rivals AC Milan since 1947, but before that played at a number of stadiums around the city, including the Campo di Ripa Ticinese in the Ticinese district souith of the centre, the Campo Virgilio Fossati and the Arena Civica, the grandiose neoclassical stadium commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte after he had proclaimed himself King of Italy in 1905. Inter played their home games at the Arena, a kind of mini-Colosseum in the Parco Sempione, behind the Sforza Castle, from 1930 until 1958.

Travel tip:

A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking towards the waters of Bay of Naples
A view over the rooftops at Torre Annunziata, looking
towards the waters of Bay of Naples
Torre Annunziata, where Prisco had family roots, is a city in the metropolitan area of Naples. Close to Mount Vesuvius, the original city was destroyed in the eruption of 79 AD and a new one built over the ruins. Its name derives from a watch tower - torre - built to warn people of imminent Saracen raids and a chapel consecrated to the Annunziata (Virgin Mary). It became a centre for pasta production in the early 19th century. The Villa Poppaea, also known as Villa Oplontis, believed to be owned by Nero, was discovered about 10 metres below ground level just outside the town and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

More reading:

Massimo Moratti, the business tycoon who presided over Inter's golden age

How Giuseppe Meazza became Italian football's first superstar

Why mystery still surrounds the death of 'God's banker' Roberto Calvi

Also on this day:

1813: The birth of forgotten composer Errico Petrella

1907: The birth of postwar movie star Amedeo Nazzari

1936: The death of playwright Luigi Pirandello


10 August 2018

Marina Berlusconi - businesswoman

Tycoon’s daughter who heads two of his companies

Marina Berlusconi has been president of her father's Fininvest company since 2005
Marina Berlusconi has been president of her
father's Fininvest company since 2005
Marina Berlusconi, the oldest of business tycoon and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s five children, was born on this day in 1966 in Milan.

Since 2003 she has been chair of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy’s largest publishing company, and since 2005 president of Fininvest, the Berlusconi holding company that is also Mondadori’s parent company.

She is or at times has been a director of several other Berlusconi companies, including Mediaset, Medusa Film, Mediolanum and Mediobanca.  Forbes magazine once described her as the most powerful woman in Italy and one of the 50 most powerful women in the world.

Born Maria Elvira Berlusconi, her mother is Carla Elvira Lucia Dall’Oglio, a woman the businessman met for the first time at a tram stop outside Milan Centrale railway station in 1964 and married the following year, at a time when he was an enterprising but relatively obscure real estate broker.

They were divorced in 1985, much to the disappointment of Marina and her brother, Piersilvio, after their father had begun a relationship with the actress Veronica Lario, who would become his second wife and the mother of his third, fourth and fifth children.

Marina Berlusconi has acquired the reputation of a hard-nosed businesswoman
Marina Berlusconi has acquired the reputation
of a hard-nosed businesswoman
After Silvio Berlusconi had made his fortune from Milano Due, a vast residential area built on cheaply-acquired redundant farmland near the city’s Linate airport, Marina was brought up in the family’s palatial 18th century home, the Villa San Martino, in the town of Arcore, about 25km (16 miles) northeast of Milan.

Educated at Leo Dehon high school in Monza, where she obtained her baccalaureate, Marina began studying law and then political science at university but left without completing her degree and instead began to work in her father’s companies.

She was appointed a vice-president of Fininvest at the age of 29 and was said to be closely involved in the development of financial and economic strategies and in the management of the group. At a time when female figures in Italian boardrooms were rare, she began to gain a reputation as a hard-nosed businesswoman not afraid to back her own instincts.

In 1998, working with her brother Piersilvio, she resisted an attempt by Rupert Murdoch to buy a controlling interest in her father’s TV company Mediaset, the Australian-born media tycoon dropping out after failing to negotiate a reduction in the price she felt the company was worth, when it was thought her father might soften.

In October 2005, she was appointed Fininvest president and chair, having already been given control of Arnoldo Mondadori publishing house following the death of Leonardo Mondadori, the grandson of the company’s founder.

Berlusconi addressing a shareholders' meeting at Mondadori
Berlusconi addressing a shareholders'
meeting at Mondadori
According to Forbes, in 2008 she was the ninth richest heiress in the world, in line to inherit a fortune of 9.4 billion dollars.

In the same year, she married her long-time partner, the former first dancer at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Maurizio Vanadia. They already had two children, Gabriele and Silvio, born respectively in 2002 and 2004.

Marina had been taken with Maurizio after watching him perform in Swan Lake and they met again when he was being treated for an injury by the physiotherapist at her father’s football club, AC Milan.

They were married in a small ceremony in a private chapel within the grounds of the family home at Villa San Martino.

Since 2013, when her father, who has been prime minister of four Italian governments, was barred from public office, there have been several periods of speculation that Marina would move into politics, taking control of her father’s Forza Italia party.

However, she has always denied that she has any political ambitions, despite describing her father as the victim of a witchhunt. In 2017 she said: "I think that the leadership in politics can not be transmitted by investiture or by dynastic succession".

In 2009 the Mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti - a former Berlusconi minister -  awarded her the Gold Medal of the Municipality of Milan as "an example of Milanese excellence in the world and the ability to reconcile professional commitment and family life"

An 18th century painting of the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda
An 18th century painting of the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda
Travel tip:

The town of Arcore in the province of Monza and Brianza probably has Roman origins and two monasteries were established in the area in the Middle Ages. It was not until the 16th century that the town began to develop, when several noble Lombard families, such as the Casati, Durini, Giulini, Vismara, D'Adda, Barbò families, began building villas in the area’s attractive countryside, including the Villa Borromeo-d'Adda, the Villa la Cazzola and the Villa San Martino, which became the Berlusconi family residence. The town’s industrial base developed after Italian unification in 1861 when two railway companies opened stations.

Silvio Berlusconi's palatial home at Arcore, the Villa San Martino, which he bought in 1974
Silvio Berlusconi's palatial home at Arcore, the Villa San
Martino, which he bought in 1974
Travel tip:

The Villa San Martino, on the site of a former Benedictine monastery, was restored as a manor house by the Counts Giulini and substantially rebuilt by the wealthy Casati Stampa family in the 18th century, one of a group of grand farm houses or hunting lodges known as the ville delizie.  It was acquired by Silvio Berlusconi in 1974 when the last Casati owner, having fallen on hard times, decided to sell up and emigrate to Brazil. The 3,500m² villa, complete with art gallery, a library of ten thousand volumes, furniture and a park with stables, was valued at 1.7 billion lire but was reportedly bought by Berlusconi for only 500m lire.

More reading:

The rise of Silvio Berlusconi in business and politics

How Letizia Moratti became the first woman to be head of Rai

The day Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi left office for the last time

Also on this day:

1535: The death of Ippolito de' Medici

2012: The death of Carlo Rambaldi, creator of E.T.


9 August 2018

Filippo Inzaghi - football manager

World Cup winning player turned successful coach

Filippo Inzaghi took Venezia to the verge of a place in Serie A
Filippo Inzaghi took Venezia to the
verge of a place in Serie A
The former Azzurri striker Filippo Inzaghi, who was a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad, was born on this day in 1973 in Piacenza.

A traditional goal poacher, known more for his knack of being in the right place at the right moment than for a high level of technical skill, Inzaghi scored 313 goals in his senior career before retiring as a player in 2012 and turning to coaching. He has recently been appointed manager of the Serie A team Bologna.

Inzaghi came off the substitutes’ bench to score the second goal as Italy beat the Czech Republic 2-0 to clinch their qualification for the knock-out stage of the 2006 World Cup in Germany but found it impossible to win a starting place in competition with Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero in Marcello Lippi’s squad.

He also picked up a runners-up medal in Euro 2000, hosted jointly by Belgium and the Netherlands, where he scored against Turkey in the opening group game and against Romania in the quarter-final but was overlooked by coach Dino Zoff in his team for the final.

Inzaghi scored more goals than his hero Marco van Basten in his career with AC Milan
Inzaghi scored more goals than his hero Marco van
Basten in his career with AC Milan
His club career was one of success after success, principally during his time at Juventus and AC Milan.  A Serie A winner with the Turin club in 1998, he was twice a Scudetto winner with Milan, with whom he twice won the Champions League, beating his old club Juventus in the 2003 Final at Old Trafford, and overcoming Liverpool in the 2007 Final in Athens, when Inzaghi scored both Milan’s goals and was named Man of the Match.

Inzaghi’s goals tally, which includes 10 Serie A hat-tricks, is the seventh highest in Italian football history and he is the fourth highest goalscorer in European club competitions with 70 goals, behind only Raúl, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. His 43 goals in international fixtures for Milan, for whom he scored twice against Boca Juniors of Argentina in the 2007 Club World Cup final, is a club record.

At international level, Inzaghi earned 57 caps for the Italy national team between 1997 and 2007, scoring 25 goals.

The sons of a textile salesman, Inzaghi and his younger brother Simone, who would also go on to be a striker in Serie A and the Italy national team, were brought up in the village of San Nicolò, just outside the city of Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna.

Filippo - also known as ‘Pippo’ - grew up wanting to emulate Italy’s 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi and later Milan’s great Dutch striker Marco van Basten.

Inzaghi (centre, No 9) and the rest of the AC Milan team celebrate winning the Champions League in 2003
Inzaghi (centre, No 9) and the rest of the AC Milan team
celebrate winning the Champions League in 2003
He began his career with his local club, Piacenza, where he became a first-team regular after a couple of spells on loan to lower division clubs. His 15 goals in 37 matches in the 1994-95 Serie B season earned his club promotion to Serie A.

Despite their success, Piacenza accepted an offer from Parma for their star striker. However, though he became a favourite with the fans, Inzaghi’s career under coach Nevio Scala stalled after an injury and he was sold on again after one season.

The next move, to Atalanta of Bergamo, brought his big breakthrough. Even though Atalanta finished only 10th in Serie A, Inzaghi scored 24 goals, which made him the league’s Capocannoniere - top scorer. Incredibly, he scored either home or away against every other team and was named Serie A Young Footballer of the Year.

The success earned him a 23 billion lire move to Juventus, where he would stay for four years, in which time he became the first player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League twice, helped the bianconeri win the Scudetto in 1997-98 with 18 goals and scored six times in helping the team reach the Champions League final, where they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid.

Inzaghi turned to coaching when he  retired as a player in 2012
Inzaghi turned to coaching when he
retired as a player in 2012
Despite his 89 goals in 165 games for Juventus, he eventually fell out of favour and was sold again in 2001, this time for 70 billion lire to Milan, where he suffered a knee injury early in his first season but returned to form a potent partnership with Andriy Shevchenko and later Kaká in the 11 years that would be the most successful of his career, ultimately overtaking his hero Van Basten on the list of the club’s all-time top goalscorers.

A serious knee injury meant his involvement in the 2010-11 title-winning season was limited.  Less frequently used as a first-choice striker, he was told he would not be retained at the end of the following season, at which point he announced his retirement, a month short of his 39th birthday.

He began his coaching career immediately as head coach of AC Milan’s Primavera (Under-19) team and took over as head coach of the first team in July 2014 after the dismissal of his former playing colleague, Clarence Seedorf, under whose stewardship the club had failed to qualify for either of the European club competitions for the first time in 15 years.

Inzaghi could not bring about an improvement, but his dismissal after one season enabled him to find his first success as a club manager with Venezia, in the third tier of the Italian league system, known as Lega Pro.

Venezia won Lega Pro in Inzaghi’s first season in charge and reached the Serie B play-offs in his second year, although they missed out on a return to Serie A.

Nonetheless, with an impressive win ratio of more than 50 per cent from his 95 matches in charge, it was no surprise when Bologna, 15th in the 2017-18 Serie A season, offered him a return to the top flight.

The Chiesa San Nicolò in Inzaghi's home village
The Chiesa San Nicolò in Inzaghi's home village
Travel tip:

Inzaghi’s home village of San Nicolò is a parish in the municipality of Rottafreno, which literally translates as ‘broken brake’ and often provokes laughter. It is thought the name may go back to the time of Hannibal and the Second Punic War (218-202 BC), when Hannibal was said to have been forced to spend the night in the village after his horse’s bit, which serves as a brake for the rider. Local people embraced the story so enthusiastically that the town’s municipal emblem includes the head of a horse with a broken bit.

Piazza Duomo in Piacenza
Piazza Duomo in Piacenza
Travel tip:

Piacenza is a city of 103,000 people in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The main square in Piacenza is named Piazza Cavalli because of its two bronze equestrian monuments by Francesco Mochi featuring Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and his son Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma. The city is situated between the River Po and the Apennines, between Bologna and Milan. It has many fine churches and old palaces. Piacenza Cathedral was built in 1122 and is a good example of northern Italian Romanesque architecture.

More reading:

Marcello Lippi, Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning coach

Nevio Scala and Parma's golden era

The World Cup heroics of Paolo Rossi

Also on this day:

1173: Work begins on the bell tower that would become the Leaning Tower of Pisa

1939: The birth of politician Romano Prodi