Showing posts with label Sampdoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sampdoria. Show all posts

9 July 2021

Gianluca Vialli - footballer and coach

Striker who managed Chelsea has faced personal battle

Gianluca Vialli is currently working with the Italian national team
Gianluca Vialli is currently working
with the Italian national team
The footballer Gianluca Vialli, who enjoyed success as a player in Italy and England and led Chelsea to five trophies as manager of the London club, was born on this day in 1964 in Cremona in Lombardy.

After beginning his professional career with his local team, Cremonese, Vialli spent eight seasons with Sampdoria of Genoa, helping a team that had seldom previously finished higher than mid-table in Serie A enjoy their most successful era, winning the Coppa Italia three times, the European Cup-Winners’ Cup and an historic first Serie A title in 1990-91.

He then spent four years with Juventus, winning another Scudetto in 1994-95 and becoming a Champions League winner the following season.

He signed for Chelsea in 1996 as one of the first in a wave of top Italian players arriving in the Premier League in the second half of that decade, becoming player-manager in 1998 after the man who signed him, Ruud Gullit, was sacked. 

In the blue of Chelsea, Vialli won medals in the FA Cup as a player, the Football League Cup, the Cup-Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup as player-manager, before guiding the team to another FA Cup success as manager, after retiring as a player at the end of the 1998-99 season.

After leaving Stamford Bridge, Vialli remained in London, dropping out of the Premier League to take charge of second-tier club Watford but lasted only a season before being sacked and has not worked in management since.

Vialli was a prolific goalscorer in the  colours of Sampdoria
Vialli was a prolific goalscorer in the 
colours of Sampdoria 
Vialli, who also made 59 appearances and scored 16 goals for the Italian national team, was for many years a pundit on the Sky Italia satellite TV channel and has written two books. He has been a member of current Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini’s pitch-side technical staff during the delayed 2020 European championships, having emerged successfully from a two-and-a-half year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Vialli’s upbringing was very different from most footballers. The youngest of five children, he enjoyed the trappings of his entrepreneur father’s wealth, being brought up in the historic 60-room Castello di Belgioioso, in the small town of the same name set in extensive gardens a little under 60km (37 miles) west of Cremona on the way to Pavia.  Vialli senior was the millionaire owner of a construction company.

He was as keen on football as any young child and played endless games with his sister and three brothers in a large courtyard at the back of the castle. His first formal steps towards a football career came after he had entered the Cristo Re oratory, an educational institution in Cremona, which had a football team and links to others, including Pizzighettone, a regional team from Cremona province. After a few games there, his talent as a striker was quickly picked up on the Cremonese radar and made his senior debut at the age of 16.

Fired by Vialli’s goals, Cremonese jumped from Serie C to Serie A in four seasons. Vialli enjoyed his time there and was often seen around the city, zipping about on his Vespa scooter with the girlfriend from childhood, Giovanna, on the back.  He would sometimes hang out with the club’s fans at the Bar Rio in the centre of Cremona.

Vialli played alongside fellow striker Fabrizio Ravanelli (left) during his four years with Juventus
Vialli played alongside fellow striker Fabrizio
Ravanelli (left) during his four years with Juventus
But bigger things beckoned. In 1984, at the age of 20, Vialli signed for Sampdoria, making the acquaintance for the first time of his new teammate, Roberto Mancini.  The coach, Vujadin Boskov, treated him like a son and gave him the confidence to form a deadly partnership with Mancini. In 1991, Vialli was top scorer with 19 goals and helped the club to win both the Scudetto and the Italian Super Cup.

In June 1992, with Sampdoria wishing they could keep him but also needing a cash influx, Vialli moved to Juventus for a world record fee, the equivalent of £12.5 million. He made a slow start, his first two seasons disrupted by injuries, but under coach Marcello Lippi he won the domestic league and cup double and the UEFA Cup and both main domestic trophies as well as the Uefa Cup and before making his final appearance in the 1996 Champions League final in Rome, when a Juventus side captained by him beat Ajax of Holland. 

Vialli’s international career ended in 1992, essentially because of his poor relationship with Arrigo Sacchi, the manager who succeeded Azeglio Vicini after the 1990 World Cup and took Italy to the final in USA ‘94. 

After moving to Chelsea, he settled in London, buying a house in Belgravia, marrying an English interior designer, Cathryn White-Cooper, with whom he has two daughters, and later moving to Hampstead.  A smoker even in his playing days, Vialli was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017. He announced in April 2020 that he had been given the all-clear.

Vialli collaborated with his friend, football journalist Gabriele Marcotti, in writing The Italian Job: A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures, which discusses the differences between English and Italian football. He donated the proceeds of the book to a charitable foundation he founded together with player-turned-politician Massimo Mauro to raise funds for research into cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as motor neurone disease.

Mancini, who became Italy’s head coach in 2018 after their failure to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia, turned to Vialli to be part of his backroom team in 2019, giving him the title of delegation chief, a position unfilled since Luigi Riva's retirement in 2013.

UPDATE: Italy won the final of the delayed Euro 2020 championships two days after this article was originally published, defeating host nation England on penalties at Wembley. Vialli shared the glory with Mancini, his close friend since they played together at Sampdoria.

Sadly, Vialli's cancer returned late in 2021. The disease was kept under control initially but his condition deteriorated in December 2022, causing him to be readmitted to hospital in London. He died on 6 January, 2023, aged just 58.

Vialli grew up in the ancient Castello di Belgioioso between Cremona and Pavia
Vialli grew up in the ancient Castello di
Belgioioso between Cremona and Pavia
Travel tip:

It is thought the Castello di Belgioioso was founded by Galeazzo II Visconti in the second half of the 14th century as part of an extensive area owned by the family in the territory where the village of Belgioioso later arose. In the 18th century the castle belonged to Don Antonio Barbiano, the first prince of Belgioioso, who was responsible for the many improvements to the complex.Lombard nobility often met there to celebrate lavish receptions.  Today the castle is home to exhibitions, cultural events, exhibitions and fairs, as well as becoming a popular venue for weddings.

The fishing village and resort of Bogliasco is close to where Vialli lived in his time at Sampdoria
The fishing village and resort of Bogliasco is close
to where Vialli lived in his time at Sampdoria

Travel tip: 

During his time at Sampdoria, lived close to the Ligurian resort of Bogliasco, situated just 11km (7 miles) east of Genoa in an area known as the Golfo Paradiso. Bogliasco is not so well known as the beautiful Camogli or exclusive Portofino further down the coast, yet is an attractive port village with characteristic pastel-coloured houses lining a sweep of sandy beach. Bogliasco has many good restaurants, is accessible by train along the railway line that hugs the coast and has three important art collections in the Frugone, Wolfsoniana and Galleria d'Arte Moderna.

Also on this day:

1879: The birth of violinist and composer Ottorino Respighi

1897: The of former NATO Secretary-General Manlio Brosio

1950: The birth of tennis champion Adriano Panatta


30 November 2018

Andrea Doria – Admiral

Military commander with outstanding tactical talent

Andrea Doria's portrait was painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in around 1526
Andrea Doria's portrait was painted by
Sebastiano del Piombo in around 1526
Andrea Doria, the most important naval leader of his time, was born on this day in 1466 in Oneglia in Liguria.

Because of his successes on both land and sea he was able to free Genoa from domination by foreign powers and reorganise its government to be more stable and effective.

Doria was part of an ancient aristocratic family but he was orphaned while still young and grew up to become a condottiero, or soldier of fortune.

He served Pope Innocent VIII, King Ferdinand I and his son Alfonso II of Naples, and other Italian princes.

Between 1503 and 1506 he helped his uncle, Domenico, crush the Corsican revolt against the rule of Genoa.

Attracted to the sea, Doria fitted out eight galleys and patrolled the Mediterranean, fighting the Ottoman Turks and Barbary pirates, adding to his wealth and reputation along the way.

He then entered the service of Francis I of France who was fighting the Emperor Charles V in Italy and helped him capture Genoa.

A medal bearing the image of Andrea Doria, who continued to sail in his '80s
A medal bearing the image of Andrea
Doria, who continued to sail in his '80s
But after becoming disillusioned with French policies in Genoa, Doria transferred his support to Charles V and helped him drive the French out of Genoa.

Charles made him grand admiral of the imperial fleet and gave him the title of Prince of Melfi.

As the new ruler of Genoa, Doria imposed a government made up of the city’s main aristocratic families. His reformed constitution for the city was to last until 1797.

He also continued to command naval expeditions against the Turks and helped Charles V extend his domination of the Italian peninsula.

In 1547 a rival family started to plot against Doria and they eventually murdered his nephew, Giannetino, but the conspirators were quickly defeated and severely punished by Doria.

The house where Andrea Doria was born, overlooking the port in Oneglia on the Ligurian coast
The house where Andrea Doria was born, overlooking
the port in Oneglia on the Ligurian coast
At the age of 84, Doria was still regularly sailing against the Barbary pirates and he went to fight against the French when they seized Corsica, which was under the control of Genoa at the time Doria finally retired in 1555 and passed his command to his great nephew, Giovanni Andrea Doria.

Doria died in 1560 in Genoa at the age of 93 and left his estate to Giovanni Andrea.  The family of Doria-Pamphili-Landi is descended from the famous Admiral and bears his title, Prince of Melfi.

Several Italian and US ships have been named after Andrea Doria.  An Italian passenger ship, the SS Andrea Doria, sank off the coast of Massachusetts after colliding with another ship in 1956, causing the deaths of 46 people.

A football club named after him - the Società Ginnastica Andrea Doria, founded in 1895 - was a forerunner of one of Genoa's two major teams, Sampdoria, which was formed in 1946 after a merger of SG Andrea Doria with another club, Sampierdarenese.

The port city of Genoa, once ruled over by Andrea Doria, has a proud history as a maritime power
The port city of Genoa has a proud
 history as a maritime power
Travel tip:

Genoa, which was once ruled over by Doria, is the capital city of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. It has earned the nickname of La Superba because of its proud history as a major port. Part of the old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2006 because of the wealth of beautiful 16th century palaces there.

Oneglia is part of the larger port of Imperia in Liguria
Oneglia is part of the larger port of Imperia in Liguria
Travel tip:

Oneglia, where Doria was born, was a town on the Ligurian coast that had been purchased by the Doria family in the 13th century. It was joined to Porto Maurizio in 1923 by Mussolini  to form the comune of Imperia. The area has become well known for cultivating flowers and olives and there is a Museum of the Olive in the part of the city that used to be Oneglia.

More reading:

When Genoa's ships routed the fleet of Pisa

How architect Renzo Piano gave new life to the port of his home town of Genoa

The founding of Genoa Cricket and Football Club

Also on this day:

1485: The birth of writer and stateswoman Veronica Gambara

1954: The birth of Godfather actress Simonetta Stefanelli

1954: The death of tenor Beniamino Gigli


1 October 2018

Walter Mazzarri - football coach

Former Watford manager with outstanding record in Italy

Walter Mazzarri has coached nine teams in Italy and England
Walter Mazzarri has coached nine
teams in Italy and England
The football coach Walter Mazzarri, whose disappointing spell in English football as Watford manager contrasts with a fine record as a coach in his native Italy, was born on this day in 1961 in San Vincenzo, a resort on the coast of Tuscany.

Mazzarri won promotion to Serie A with his local club Livorno and kept tiny Calabrian team Reggina in Serie A against the odds for three consecutive seasons, on the last occasion despite an 11-point deduction for involvement in an alleged match-fixing scandal.

He subsequently had two seasons as coach of Sampdoria, qualifying for the UEFA Cup by finishing sixth in the first of those campaigns and then reaching the final of the Coppa Italia with a team that included the potent attacking duo Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini.

After that he returned to Napoli, where he had previously been assistant to Renzo Ulivieri, to be appointed head coach in 2009, guiding the azzurri to sixth place - their best Serie A finish for 25 years - to qualify for the Europa League in his first season in charge, and doing even better in his second season, when Napoli were third, their highest placing since the golden days of the late 1980s, when Diego Maradona inspired them to win the scudetto twice in four seasons.

They qualified for the Champions League for the first time as a result and won the Coppa Italia, beating Juventus in the final - Napoli’s first major silverware since 1989-90 at the end of the Maradona era.

The striker Edinson Cavani became a star under Mazzarri at Napoli
The striker Edinson Cavani became
a star under Mazzarri at Napoli
He moved to Internazionale for the 2013-14 season but could not replicate his success with Napoli. After finishing fifth in his first season at the helm he won a contract extension but was sacked in November 2014 after a disappointing run of results.

Mazzarri’s move to England came in July 2016 as Watford, the English team acquired by Serie A club Udinese’s owner Giampaolo Pozzo, appointed him as their sixth head coach in four years, his predecessors having included fellow Italians Gianfranco Zola and Giuseppe Sannino.

He replaced the Spaniard Quique Sanchez Flores, who was dismissed despite reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup and finishing 13th in the Premier League.  He argued that he had a successful season in that his brief had been to keep Watford in the division despite being a small club, which he seemed to have achieved comfortably by reaching his target of 40 points - a total that in most years is proof against relegation - with six fixtures still to play.

But the Hornets, the club once owned by the pop music superstar Elton John, lost all of those matches and Mazzarri was dismissed even before the season concluded with a 5-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

Mazzarri's spell in charge at Napoli saw the club achieve its most successful period since the days of Diego Maradona
Mazzarri's spell in charge at Napoli saw the club achieve
its most successful period since the days of Diego Maradona
Mazzarri’s biggest triumph so far has undoubtedly been with Napoli. Under Mazzarri, Napoli become renowned for lightning counter-attacks and a 3–4–3 formation in which the Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani was supported by Argentine winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and creative Slovakian star Marek Hamšík.

They finished second in their group in their debut Champions League campaign, behind Germany's Bayern Munich and ahead of Manchester City and Villareal of Spain. But in the last 16 they suffered a difficult exit against another English side, Chelsea, who overturned a 3-1 defeat at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo in the first leg with a stunning 4–1 win after extra time in the return leg in England.

Napoli recovered from the disappointment to end the season with a trophy as they won the Coppa Italia final, inflicting Serie A champions Juventus's only defeat of the season, and finished second in Serie A the following season, their highest position in over 20 years.

Since January of this year, Mazzarri, a former midfielder who played more than 250 matches in a fairly low-key career on the pitch, has been coach of Torino in Serie A, his ninth team since he took his first head coach position at the minor Sicilian club Acireale in 2001.

Sand dunes in the beautiful Rimigliano nature park, which is next to the resort of San Vincenzo
Sand dunes in the beautiful Rimigliano nature park,
which is next to the resort of San Vincenzo
Travel tip:

Mazzarri’s home town of San Vincenzo is a coastal resort at the southern end of the Ligurian Sea, roughly 50km (31 miles) south of Livorno, almost level with the northern tip of the island of Corsica.  The resort is notable for the long stretches of soft, sandy beaches that are characteristic of the area. It is also adjacent to the Rimigliano nature park, which covers the shoreline between San Vincenzo and the Gulf of Baratti, where visitors can admire sea lilies and juniper-covered sand dunes or explore forests of cork and pine trees.

The elegant Piazza Duomo in the centre of the Sicilian town of Acireale, north of Catania
The elegant Piazza Duomo in the centre of the Sicilian
town of Acireale, north of Catania
Travel tip:

Acireale, where Mazzarri played for a while and began his coaching career, is an elegant town rich in Baroque architecture, built on a series of lava terraces that drop to the sea about 17km (11 miles) north of Catania on the southeast coast of Sicily.  It has a beautiful cathedral dedicated to Maria Santissima Annunziata, located in Piazza Duomo in the historic centre. Built in the fifth century, it was reconstructed after the 1693 earthquake. The nearby fishing village of Santa Maria la Scala has some charming restaurants at the harbour’s edge.

More reading:

How Gianfranco Zola 'learned everything' from Diego Maradona

The three-times Champions League winner now in charge of Napoli

The founding of Milan giants Internazionale

Also on this day:

1450: The death of Leonello d'Este, patron of Ferrara's artistic heritage

1910: The birth of Olympic cycling champion Attilio Pavese


18 December 2017

Gianluca Pagliuca – record-breaking goalkeeper

No one has saved more penalties in Serie A matches

Gianluca Pagliuca played for Italy in the 1994 World Cup final
Gianluca Pagliuca played for Italy
in the 1994 World Cup final
The footballer Gianluca Pagliuca, once the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, record-holder for the most appearances by a goalkeeper in the Italian soccer championship and still the stopper with the most penalty saves in Serie A, was born on this day in 1966 in Ceretolo, a small town about 10km (6 miles) from the centre of Bologna.

Pagliuca made 592 appearances in Serie A, taking the record previously held by Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Dino Zoff for the most by a goalkeeper in the top division of the Italian League. He held the record for 10 years from September 2006 until it was overtaken by another of Italy’s greatest goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon, in 2016.

He played for four major clubs in his career, starting with Sampdoria, with whom he won the Serie A title – the Scudetto – in 1990-91, playing in the team that included Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini, Beppe Dossena, Attilio Lombardo and Ivano Bonetti.

After Sampdoria, he represented Internazionale in Milan, his home-town club Bologna and the small club Ascoli, from Ascoli Piceno in Marche.

He also made 39 appearances for the Italian national team and was chosen for three World Cup finals squads, picking up a runners-up medal in the United States in 1994, even though his participation was marred by a suspension for two matches.

Pagliuca was renowned for saving penalties
Pagliuca was renowned for saving penalties
This followed his red card in Italy’s group match against Norway, when he was sent off for handling the ball outside his penalty area, in the process becoming the first goalkeeper to be dismissed in the history of the World Cup finals.

Pagliuca’s achievements with Sampdoria, where he also won a European Cup-winners’ Cup medal and a runners-up medal in the Champions League following a 1-0 defeat against Barcelona at Wembley, earned him a move to Inter in 1994 for a fee of £7 million, which at the time was the highest fee to be paid for a goalkeeper.

At Inter he played in two consecutive UEFA Cup finals, defeating Italian rivals Lazio in the second, and might have stayed in Milan longer had new coach Marcello Lippi not brought in Angelo Peruzzi from his former club, Juventus, to be first choice.

At that time, in 1999, Pagliuca had the possibility of continuing his career in England with Aston Villa, a club he had followed as a teenager when satellite TV channels first allowed Italian audiences to follow English football.

He chose instead to join Bologna, his first love as a boy growing up in the city’s outskirts, although he said that playing at Villa Park for Inter in a UEFA Cup tie in 1994 had been one of the proudest moments of his career.

Pagliuca won the Serie A title with Sampdoria
Pagliuca won the Serie A title
with Sampdoria
Inter lost that tie on a penalty shoot-out, although in keeping with his reputation Pagliuca did save one of Villa’s penalties. In Serie A, his tally of 24 penalty saves has still not been beaten.

He also saved a penalty in the shoot-put that settled the 1994 World Cup final in Pasadena, although Italy were beaten by Brazil after both Franco Baresi and Roberto Baggio missed with their kicks and Daniele Massaro saw his attempt saved.

When Pagliuca announced his retirement while playing for Ascoli in 2007, he was 40 years old and had racked up an incredible 786 competitive appearances in all competitions.

Since quitting as a player, Pagliuca has combined working for Bologna as a member of the coaching staff with appearing on Sky Italia and the Mediaset subscription channels as a pundit.

Ceretolo is a popular residential area outside Bologna
Ceretolo is a popular residential area outside Bologna
Travel tip:

Ceretolo, where Pagliuca was born and played his first football with the Polisportiva Ceretolese amateur club, was for many centuries a hamlet outside the larger town of Casalecchio di Reno, a few kilometres outside Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region.  It has an 18th century church, dedicated to the saints Antonio and Andrea and a bell tower that survived both an earthquake in 1928 and bombing in the Second World War. In more recent years it has grown into popular residential area.

The church of San Michele in Bosco offers panoramic views over the city of Bologna
The church of San Michele in Bosco offers panoramic views
over the city of Bologna
Travel tip:

Visitors to Bologna can enjoy impressive panoramic views across the city by taking only a short trip out of the city centre into the Colli Bolognesi, the hills just to the south of the city, which itself is built on a flat plain at the southern edge of the Po Valley. One good vantage point is the church of San Michele in Bosco, which was built during the Middle Ages and refurbished by Olivetan monks in the 17th century as part of a religious complex that included a convent. The churchyard can be reached by a 10-minute bus ride or on foot from the centre and offers a view across the whole city.

Also on this day: