When Calcio Ruled The World: Jürgen Kohler

It was the start of the 1990’s and Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Milan were dominating Serie A. Just how do you stop Marco Van Basten, Ruud Guillt, Frank Rijkaard and as well as the rest of that Milan side?

In the land where traditionally the best defenders on the planet come from, Juventus looked further a field. They signed a giant German to try and stop Arrigo Sacchi’s red and black machine That man was Jürgen Kohler.

Kohler was already a proven top class defender having already a World Cup winners medal and a Bundesliga title. This was acquired before he joined The Old Lady from Bayern Munich in 1991.

He was everything you could ask for in a defender, conistant from, hard tackling, dominant in the air and an ability to read the game. Kohler also had an impressive goal scoring record for a defender with 36 career goals to his name.

The big German settled in well in Turin and formed a formidable defensive unit along side, Ciro Ferrara, Andrea Fortunato and Massimo Carrera with the great Angelo Peruzzi behind them.

With this solid back line success soon followed and Kohler was a key player. The Bianconeri lifted the 1993 UEFA Cup beating Kohler’s fellow German’s Borussia Dortmund 3-1, this was followed by a domestic double in 1995 as Juventus won the Italian Cup. They finally stopped the Milan domination and lifted the Serie A title this year winning it by an impressive ten points with Kohler at the heart of the defence he was solid.

With mission some what accomplished in stopping Milan, Kohler, after just over 100 Juventus appearances would leave after the Serie A title win. He would head back to Germany to join the team Juventus beat in the 93 UEFA Cup Final, Borussia Dortmund.

His affection for The Old Lady never faded as after he and Dortmund won the 1997 Champions League 3-1 against Juventus. Kohler was seen wearing a Juventus scarf during the lap of honour given to him from the crowd a great gesture by a true Bianconeri club legend.

When Calcio ruled the world, Jürgen Kohler made it look easy stopping the worlds greatest forwards.

By Giovanni Dougall


Is the Europa League dream over for Donadoni’s Parma?

Roberto Donadoni was still upbeat after last night’s 4-2 defeat to Roma. With statements like, Parma could have been more aggressive and that, with a full squad the game could have been different, it gave off the impression that this was merely a blip. Parma had been charging towards a Europa League spot but does Donadoni’s nonchalance hide a potential implosion.

Parma have been magnificent this season and have had fans and journalists comparing them to the great Parma sides of the 1990’s. Up until two weeks ago they sat proudly in sixth place in the table, eleven points ahead of Milan and unbeaten in the league since last November. Even that was to high flying Juventus.  They have been playing superb football and with players such as the marmite Amuari, Marco Parolo, the long forgotten Ezequiel Schelotto and ‘the big fish in the small pond’ Cassano,  it has come as a surprise. None the less this rag tag group has been making everyone stand up and take note on Donadoni and his dirty dozen.

When the Gialloblu welcomed Juventus to the Stadio Ennio Tradini many thought Juventus were in for a tough game but not many thought the Turin giants would fail to win. The ‘Old Lady’ did not let anyone down winning 1-2 but there was no panic in the ranks. Parma had acquired enough points to handle a blow from the runaway league leaders and would just have to recover against Lazio.

This is where the problems started as Donadoni’s consistent side outfit started to fall apart. In a bizarre 90 minutes Lazio won 3-2 in a match they tried very hard to let Parma back into. Donadoni bemoaned that Parma could have won easily if luck had gone their way and that their fate was still in their own hands if they beat Roma in the next match.

Parma stayed in Rome to play the last 79 minutes of the game called off earlier in the season. The cracks were perhaps starting to show and their normal measured approach that had deserted them against Lazio did so again. It was a deluge of goals (not rain) that engulfed the Stadio Olimpico this time and as the Gialloblu went down 4-2. Donadoni tried to stay bullish but could the problem be bigger then he makes out.

The next match for Parma is at home to inform Napoli, this is followed by a local derby against Bologna before they host Europa League challengers Inter. This will require some steel to get through this period and the points will be needed. They finish the season with an away trip to Cagliari before taking on in form Torino and Sampdoria. Should the fight go to the last day and they will face relegation stricken Livorno.

It is testament to Parma that after these three defeats they still hold sixth position. Donadoni has produced some superb football and if they can stop the rot then they still have a real chance. A win against Napoli is a tall order but it is possible, they beat them 0-1 away in November.

However it turns out for the Gialloblu they have brought pleasure to many who have watched them play this season. The fact that they are even being seriously compared to the great Parma side of the 1990’s is an achievement in itself.

By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra

First published on Bleacher report by Richard Hall

Classic Serie A Match: Juventus v Napoli 09/11/1986

Juventus are ’The Old Lady’ of Italian football and in 1986 they dominated Italian football. Since Serie A began in 1929 along with the two Milan giants nobody else has had competed on their level.

Just like outside the world of Calcio Italy was divided in two, a North/South divide, all the riches and success to the north and the poverty and failure to the south.

That was until November 1986 when 20,000 Neapolitans travelled North to Turin, lead by a little Argentine genius going by the name of Diego Maradona. This wasn’t just a game if football, this was war.

The 20,000 plus southerners rolled into Turin in high spirits having already beaten both Milan teams at the San Paolo but this was different, this was Turin. A victory here would be so special, after having to deal with years of teasing from their rich northern counterparts and having failed to win in Turin since 1957 this was arguably their best chance.

It was Platini v Maradona (that’s like Messi v Ronaldo today) the stadium was buzzing with expectation from arguably the two best players in the world.

It was Maradona and Napoli who started the brighter, you could tell they were fired up for this battle as the little genius was starting to cause problems with a couple half chances.

However Juventus came closest to opening the scoring Claudio Garella flapped at an I swinging corner from the left ‘punching’ straight of to the Juve attacks head but as the ball ricochet against the bar and post and Napoli managed to scrambled the ball clear.

It was Maradona’s turn next as he won a free kick some 25 yards out. As the crowd held their breath Maradona struck the ball with that wand of a left foot. It hit the wall but then Maradona hit a fierce mid air scissor kick that Stefano Tacconi was equal to. The first half was a even affair and 0-0 is how the first 45 minutes of this stalemate would finish.

Juventus flew out the traps in the second half and took the lead with in five minutes of the restart as Garella made a meal of a Juventus cross and the ball fell to Michael Laudrup to smash home from close range, 1-0 to the home team.

Napoli got themselves together again after a shocking start. They nearly equalised as Renica danced through the heart of the Juventus defence but the Bianconeri managed to keep the ball out.

Napoli were on top now and Maradona forced a good save out of Tacconi, he through himself to his right to push away a powerful drive from Maradona. Tacconi was having a great start to the half making another two outstanding saves to frustrate the Neapolitans.

Napoli did get back on terms this time and it was Juventus’ turn not to defend a corner. As Romano whipped in a corner from the left the ball fell to Moreno Ferrario to prod home of the post. Napoli took the lead just a minute later as Juventus made a mess of defending a Maradona corner from the other side. This time it was whipped and Napoli won the first ball at the front post, flicked on Bruno Giordano was there to scramble the ball home and the Napoli fans behind that goal erupted in joy.

Napoli were comfortable now and as Juventus pressed for an equaliser. The Neapolitans caught them on the break with a two on one situation as Joseph Volpencina received the ball, he took it on first time and bent it round Tacconi in the Juventus goalkeeper with a beautiful left foot finish. With seconds to play the game was over at 1-3.

The thousands of Napoli fans celebrated a huge victory not only for Napoli but for the south too and being led by Maradona they believed there first scudetto wasn’t just a dream now it was reality.

Napoli of course did go on to claim their first ever Scudetto sand Maradona became a god in Naples leading them to the most successful period on the clubs history.

This weekend it’s Napoli who welcome the somewhat unstoppable Juventus to the red hot cauldron of the Stadio San Paolo in a match that promises to be a classic.


By Giovanni Dougall


When Calcio Ruled The World: Antonio Conte

It was 1985, the year of Live Aid, Back to the Future, The Super Mario Brothers, Madonna and some terrible fashion.

Over in Italy however the latest calcio star was about to be come onto the scene as a 17 year old boy’s dreams were about to come true.

Born and bread in little old Lecce, he was about to make his Serie A debut for his home town club. That little boy was Antonio Conte.

Conte was a small (5ft 8in) hard, dogged, versatile centre midfielder. He spent his early years as a youngster learning his trade in the Lecce youth system before being given his chance in the first team.

He would spend the first five years of his professional career with his home town club, despite making his debut at such a young age in 1985/1986, he would not cement his place as a first team regular until season 1988/89.

This was the season his team returned to Serie A after two seasons away, it was also the season Conte would score his first (and only goal for the Giallorossi) in a 3-2 defeat to Napoli. As a first team regular now and showing what he had to offer on arguably the worlds greatest stage in Serie A Conte was beginning to catch the eye.

After five years, 89 appearances and that one goal Contes time at Lecce was up, as Turin giants Juventus splashed out seven billion lire on the talented midfielder in November 1991.

He couldn’t have picked a bigger game to make his debut for his new club, as Juventus entertained city rivals Torino.

Conte would spend the next 13 seasons at Juventus and would later describe the famous black and white strip as “a second skin”.

Conte didn’t have to wait long for success at his new club as Juve lifted the 1992/93 UEFA Cup defeating Borussia Dortmund 6-1 over two legs. This was followed by five Scudetto titles (1995,1997,1998,2002,2003) and more European success as Conte’s Juventus lifted the 1996 UEFA Champions a League title by defeating Ajax. He also added a Coppa Italia, 4 Super Coppas, A UEFA Super Cup, Intertoto & an Intercontinental Cup to his list of honours.

He should have added another Champions League title to that list losing out to AC Milan on penalties in the 2003 final, with Conte rattling the Milan crossbar in normal time. In 1996 Conte was given the captains armband this was undoubtedly one of his proudest moments as he lifted trophy after trophy for the Old Lady. This an honour which would be passed to Alessandro Del Piero in 2001.

Conte would retire from playing in 2004 after 13 very successful years in Turin and would go down as one of Juventus’ most influential players, a true club legend racking up over 400 appearances and scoring a total of 44 goals.

He made 20 appearances for Italy between 1993-2001 coming so close to lifting the World Cup in 1994 only to miss out on penalties to Brazil.
He would suffer more heartache at Euro 2000 as part of the squad that missed out to France and David Trezeguet’s golden goal.

These days you can find Conte back at his beloved Juventus as first team coach barking out orders and kicking every ball as if he were still dictating play in the middle of the park.

When Calcio Ruled The World: Antonio Conte was the midfield myestro at the heart of Juve’s success.

By Giovanni Dougall



Juventus’s Ultra group, the Drughi, have launched a scathing attack on the widow of former player Gaetano Scirea after she condemned the anti-Neapolitan chants that have been heard in the Curva Sud Scirea of the Juventus stadium.

Gaetano Scirea is considered as one of the greatest Juventus players of all time however at the age of 36 he tragically died in a car crash in September 1989 while he was on a scouting mission for Juventus in Poland. In tribute to the Bianconeri legend the Curva Sud of the old Stadio Delle Alpi and now the Juventus Stadium was named in his honour.

The Curva Scirea has housed many of the Vecchia Signora’s Ultras over the years and Mariella Scirea has always asked that these groups respect the name of her former husband while occupying the Curva.

Following the discriminatory chants which were heard in that section of the stadium, Scirea’s widow suggested that the club should remove his name if the supporters continue to behave in this manner.

However this has triggered an unprecedented reaction from one of the Drughi Ultras who released an open letter chastising Mariella Scirea, accusing her of “working against the colours worn by the much-missed Gaetano.”

The letter then attacks her role in politics by claiming she “only got into politics because she was the widow of a legend, certainly not because of her talents or credentials.”

The Ultras suggest her request to remove the name Scirea from the Curva is “enthusiastically” supported by all the enemies of Juventus.

“Consider the incriminated chants have been sung by everyone for more than 20 years and are also sung loudly by the Curva Nord, only that section is reserved for the Club Doc.”
As well as urging her to step down from her role as President of the co-ordination committee for the fans the Ultras call on her to stop using the surname of the Juve cult hero.

“What we all agree on is that it’s wrong to use the name of a Champion beloved by all. Therefore we accept the invitation of the lady and from now on the name Scirea will no longer identify our section of the Stadium.

“However, she should do the same and go back to using her maiden name, Cavanna. Having known Gaetano’s reserved nature, we are certain he wouldn’t have appreciated such a pushy wife who, shielding herself behind a name she inherited, made her way in the worlds of politics and sport proving she knows nothing about either.”

The Drughi are renowned for their uncompromising nature and in the past they have been implicated in acts of violence, even against other Juventini. Back in 2006 they were allegedly involved in a clash between various Ultra groups which culminated in two fans being stabbed and 50 being arrested.

The Drughi’s reaction has been decried by many in the Calcio world including other Juventus supporters and the FIGC president Giancarlo Abete gave his views on the letter:
“I think it would be only natural Mrs Scirea would want to hold dear the name and image of her late husband, who honoured Italian football with the jerseys of Juve and Italy.
“He deserves the utmost respect and the people who have the opportunity to sit in an area of the stadium that is in his honour have the duty to remember that.”

By Luca Hodges-Ramon - @LH_Ramon25

A guide to the Ultra groups in Serie A: Juventus

City: Turin

Key Ultra Groups:  Gruppo Storico Fighters 1977 (Fighters Historic Group 1977), Black and White Fighters Gruppo Storico 1977, Drughi (The Droogs), Viking

Other Ultra Groups:  Fossa dei  Campioni (Champions Den), Panthers, Gioventu Bianconera (Black and White Youth), Area Bianconera (Black and White Area), Indians, Nucleo Amato Bianconero (Nuclear Black and White Love) later renamed Nucleo 1985, Arancia Meccanica (Clockwork Orange) l Fighters,  Irriducibili Vallette (Unbreakable Vallette), Arditi (Daring ones), 06 clan, Noi Soli (Only Us), Gruppo Marche 1993 (Marche Group), Bruxelles Bianconera (White and Black Brussels), Gruppo Homer (Homer Group), Assiduo Sostegno (Loyal Support), Bravi Ragazzi (Top boys), Tradizione Bianconera (Black and White Tradition), Vecchia Guardia (Old Guard)

“Real Madrid dumped you, Napoli repudiated you, only your greed brought you back here.”

This was the message that greeted Fabio Cannavaro on his return to Juventus in 2009. His two league titles with the Bianconeri did not spare him. He was regarded a traitor by the clubs Ultras, a player who had abandoned his team during their hour of need.

 Back in 2006 Juventus were relegated to Serie B in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal. While players like Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero remained, Cannavaro moved to Real Madrid. It is hard to begrudge such a career move but this treachery was neither forgotten nor forgiven. In the Ultras eyes it was his avarice which brought him back. A group known as Viking started circulating a t-shirt saying “Cannavaro mercenary” on the front and “No forgiveness for traitors” on the back.

This treatment of a former club hero did not sit well with some of Juve’s supporters,  but it exposes the visceral culture of the Ultras; one that borders on the extreme, but which has at its heart, is an unswerving  passion for one club. 

Darwin Pastorin, one of Italy’s famed football writers said:

Juventus is a team which unites everyone: from intellectuals to workers…it is a universal team, a footballing Esperanto…and then there are the fans, the real fans, from Sicily to the Aosta Valley. There are eleven million of us!”

Juventus are the most successful club in Italian history with 29 league titles (31 if you’re a Juventino). They are the Manchester United of Italy.  You either love them or hate them and perhaps this is where the nickname La Fidanzata d’Italia (Italy’s girlfriend) originates. The club is the third oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1897 by a group of students from Turin and since 1923 they have been managed by the Agnelli family (founders and owners of FIAT).

Juventus also have nationwide support. This is in part due to the influx of workers from the South who migrated to Turin to work at Mirafiori ­– the huge FIAT factory constructed on the edge of the city in 1939. FIAT provided thousands of jobs and Umberto Agnelli (former CEO at FIAT and chairman at Juventus) once claimed that ‘one of the reasons which led migrants to choose Turin during the great migrations of the 1950’s and 60’s was the possibility of going to see Juventus play’. This combined with the clubs huge success has seen their fan base become the largest in Italy with a surfeit of Ultra groups.

The story of the Juventus Ultras is like no other written in this series. It reads like a script of the Borgias with its bewildering catalogue of schisms, reformations and civil war.

The origins of the Bianconeri’s organised support can be traced back to two groups, Venceremos and Autonomia Bianconera. Formed in the mid-1970s both were positioned to the extreme left of the political spectrum, a stance which has changed considerably.

In 1977, one of Juve’s most renowned Ultra groups, Gruppo Storico Fighters (Historic Fighters Group), was founded by Beppe Rossi, a man who remains a heroic figure among the Ultras today. Residing in the Curva Sud Scirea (or Curva Filadelfia as it was known in the old Stadio Olimpico) the vestiges of the group survive today. For ten years they enjoyed prominence among the landscape of the Italian Ultras yet the era would be marred by the darkest day in the history of Juventus.

In 1985 on the 29th of May, 39 Juventus fans died at Heysel stadium during their European Cup final against Liverpool. Trouble had already flared when Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from the Italians. In the maelstrom that followed, Juventus fans were crushed against a concrete wall which collapsed killing and injuring many people. The culpability lay with the Liverpool fans and Belgian authorities but in truth the stadium was too decrepit for a game of such magnitude.

However for Juventini the blame was apportioned solely to Liverpool. An attempt was made to remove any ‘Englishness’ from the Curva and a virulent hatred was born. When the sides were drawn together in the Champions League in 2005; many Juve Ultras made their feelings clear by turning their backs on the choreography prepared by Liverpool at Anfield reading ‘Amicizia’ (friendship). In the return leg, banners were displayed reading ‘Easy to speak, difficult to pardon murders’ and ‘15-4-89. Sheffield. God exists’, the latter a reference to the Hillsborough disaster.

The 1980’s also saw the inception of other influential Ultra groups including Viking (whose members hailed from Milan) and Nucleo Amato Bianconero. The latter changed their name to Nucleo 1985 in memory of the Heysel victims. In 1987, following the dissolution of Fighters due to brutal skirmishes with bitter rivals Fiorentina, Arancia Meccanica (Clockwork Orange) was formed. Inspired by the Stanley Kubrick film, the group was an amalgam of various splinters in the Curva Sud, and under the authorities behest their name was later changed to I Drughi (the Droogs).  During their infancy their membership allegedly grew in excess of 10,000. However with the formation of Irriducibili Vallette (Vallette Unbreakables) who migrated to the Curva Nord and the re-emergence of the Fighters, the Ultras battled and squabbled among themselves.

Following the Bianconeri’sChampions League triumph against Ajax in 1996 the jubilant fans rallied under the same banner, calling themselves the Black and White Fighters Gruppo Storico 1977. However this unification faded with the outbreak of internecine fighting.

In 2005, yet again, the Fighters disbanded leaving the control of the Curva Sud up for grabs. This was compounded after the Turin giants were found guilty for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. A power struggle ensued and before a pre-season friendly against Alessandria in 2006 this reached an ugly peak. Allegedly, multifarious groups including Tradizione Bianconera (Black and White Tradition), Arditi (Daring ones - both comprised of former Fighters), Drughi, Irriducibili and Viking clashed in what can only be described as civil war. Two fans were stabbed and 50 were arrested. Allegedly this is not the only occasion Juventus Ultras have attacked each other.

Today it would appear relative peace has been restored. The Fighters have returned to the Curva Sud Scirea and they are accompanied by Viking, the Drughi and a bourgeoning number of others.  While it is hard to get one’s head round this clannish mentality, the internal divisions reflect elements of wider Italian society.

Nonetheless the superfluity of Juventus Ultras can create one of the more colourful and eclectic atmospheres on the peninsula. Each group boasts their own banners creating a vibrant and multi-faceted choreography. This makes the chic Juventus stadium a cauldron on match days and there is rarely an empty seat.

Set to the backdrop of the Alps, straddling the River Po, Turin is often referred to as the Industrial centre of Italy. The city’s armoury includes FIAT, ancient Egyptian artefacts, a myriad of contemporary art and the best chocolate in Italy. However to the Juventini, Turin is most importantly home to a juggernaut of Italian football and the Ultras thrive in the knowledge that their beloved Vecchia Signora is the envied queen of Italy. 

By Luca Hodges-Ramon - @LH_Ramon25


"Could you win? Otherwise they will make fun of me at school. Thanks, Filippo."

This simplistic banner that hung in front of the Tribuna Arancio in 2012 was at first glance sad but then retrospectively shocking. This was not the request of a beleaguered Lecce fan wondering why his team were in Lega Pro, or from a poor boy from Bari wondering why he was the only one who turned up to watch his team lose. This was a fan of Inter, and only two years after their historic treble.

Since then the club has seen major changes. None more notably than in the coaching staff. Rafael Benitez (Champions League winner), Leonardo (promising young coach), Gian Piero Gasperini (Maverick tactician and wild card), Claudio Ranieri (safe hands) and Andrea Stramaccioni (NextGen winner) have all come and gone after all failing to achieve the specific role they were employed for.

What is the role that five very different coaches (six if you include Walter Mazzarri) have failed to achieve? Why have Inter conceded the spot as Italy’s premier team and their European placing?

All fans of the Nerazzurri can look at the aforementioned list of coaches and pick holes in their tactics, man management, European pedigree, even Serie A pedigree and wax lyrical about why they may think a new more fashionable coach should take the reins. Diego Simone is the en vogue name being whispered in the stairwells of the San Siro, but would this make much difference?

The problem was not just that Inter did not regenerate into a title winning side after the treble win in 2010, it was because they did not regenerate at all. Massimo Moratti made the crucial mistake in not recognising that Inter’s treble was the end of a side and not the beginning. The Nerazzurri paid a heavy price for Moratti’s and Marco Branca's folly.

Esteban Cambiasso, Christian Chivu, Ivan Cordoba, Lucio, Diego Forlan, Maicon, Julio Cesar, Diego Milito, Paolo Orlandoni, Dejan Stankovic and Walter Samuel could all perhaps have been moved on as far back as 2011.

Moratti has eventually ceded his seat of power and allowed Erick Thohir to take over control of the club. The buyout was met with a largely negative reaction at first as the iconic Moratti name was linked so heavily with the club despite the frustration that sometimes came with it.

Often this frustration and anger was pointed at Marco Branca who, although as it looked from the outside he was incompetent, it is perhaps harsh he shouldered as much of the blame as he did. There was, after all (as in all major businesses), a business plan and he was not running rogue.

The Indonesian Thohir has gone some way to move the club away from the continued decline and has whispered hope in some areas. First of all, the pantomime villain Branca has been thrown from the towers of the San Siro to much rejoicing and waving of pitch forks.

The signing of Hernanes was also a popular move whilst the signs that Nemanja Vidic is on his way in the summer also has brought smiles to the faces of some Nerazzurri. The fact that Thohir stepped in during the chaotic Juventus swap deal has also given him some credibility in some camps.

Inter have won their last two games and it seems that with an injection of money, some fresh perspective and some new staff in the upper echelons of the club, there may be a road to recovery on the cards.

The frustration however, for all fans of Inter is that all of this could have been started after 2010 by Moratti. He had money, he had a much better standing to which he could attract new players in and he had a climate that involved a weaker Juventus.

The signs are positive for the black and blue half of Milan and of course little Filippo. The unfortunate thing is however, is that Filippo’s class mates’ have been having a field day for the past two years.

English Players in Italy - David Platt

Bari 1991-1992, Juventus 1992-1993 and Sampdoria 1993-1995.

 “If I hadn’t scored that goal, I might still have ended up playing in Italy but, realistically, I’m sure it was the catalyst.” David Platt on the importance of his extra time goal against Belgium in the last 16 of Italia ‘90’.

We all remember the joyous days of Channel 4’s Football Italia. James Richardson bringing us the ins and outs of Calcio from a Piazza in one of Italy’s en vogue cities, a Gazzetta dello Sport in hand and a cappuccino at the ready. If it wasn’t for the move of David Platt, and of course cult hero Paul Gascoigne to Serie A, both of  which saw the English interest in Italian football sky rocket, Channel 4 may never have jumped on the Calcio bandwagon.

Having burst onto the scene at Italia ‘90’, scoring three goals including a memorable volley against Belgium, Platt earned himself a big money move (at the time a British transfer record of £5.5 million) from Aston Villa to Bari. At his first major Italian press conference and keen to make a lasting impression, Platt declared he wanted to become the “Maradona of Bari.” Was this hyperbole?  Almost certainly, but his magisterial claim wasn’t altogether empty. Of course he never achieved the dizzying heights reached by the Argentinian demi-god in Naples. However in his first and only season with the Galletti, Platt scored 11 goals in 29 games. It was an impressive tally for a midfielder playing in a league which prided itself on its defensive fortitude. The Englishman combined the mores of the English game - courage, determination and leadership - with a knack for bursting from midfield to find pockets of space, enabling him to finish ninth in the Serie A scoring charts of 1991-1992. This endeared Platt to the Bari faithful, and the Englishman, (while suspended), was even invited to join the Ultras in the Curva to watch a game against Hellas Verona. Platt obliged, spending fifteen minutes with the fans before taking his seat next to the Bari president, thus ensuring he remains an icon within the city.

However Platt’s first season would end in bitter disappointment after the Biancorossi slid into Serie B spelling an end to the Englishman’s love affair with the Puglia club. Despite the attempts of Roberto Mancini to tempt Platt to Sampdoria, the English international found the lure of Juventus impossible to resist and in 1992 he signed for the Turin giants for £6.5 million. Yet after a disappointing year which saw Platt struggle to cement a first team place at the Vecchia Signora, Giovanni Trapattoni deploying him in a defensive midfield position which consequently stymied his goal scoring, Mancini eventually got his wish and Platt joined Sampdoria in 1993.

Platt arguably had his best years at the Blucerchiati, becoming an integral part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Coppa Italia winning side in 1994 and again proving himself a fan favourite. In 55 games at the club he amassed 17 goals, perhaps the most memorable of which came in the Derby della Lanterna against Genoa. The blonde haired midfielder did what he did best, finding himself in the right place at the right time to drive home a rebound from an Atillio Lombardo effort (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjkkjZKj1ks), salvaging a draw for Samp. In fact watching a montage of his goals for Il Doria you come to realise Platt had a myriad of finishes in his armoury and by the end of his Italian career in 1995 he possessed the all-round skills to mix it with the very best – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opqdGmVZFMY).

On arriving in Italy Platt said “I want to be an Italian, to speak Italian, live like an Italian and eat like an Italian.” Although he still possessed the midlands accent, he immersed himself in the culture. Celebrating like every goal was his last, gesticulating at officials, embracing the zealous fanaticism, wearing Armani and most importantly, when Calcio ruled the world Platt was playing like the very best Italian midfielders, defensively adept and composed in front of goal.

By Luca Hodges-Ramon

Follow him on Twitter @LH_Ramon 25, also follow the Gentleman Ultra @Gentleman_Ultra

When Calcio Ruled The World: Angelo Peruzzi

To look at you’d never believe Angelo Peruzzi is one of the greatest goalkeepers Serie A has ever seen.

At 5 feet 11 inches Peruzzi was a short stocky goalkeeper keeper but this did not stop him being one of the best.

In a career lasting 21 years Peruzzi won everything playing with some of the best teams in Italy and at the time in Europe.

It started in 1986 at Roma, he would be there for 5 years with a loan deal to Verona in 1989-90.

He failed a doping test in 1990 as he was taking an appetite suppressant that contained a banned substance.

Peruzzi then moved to Juventus in 1991 to try and revive his career and he certainly managed to achieve this

He racked up over 200 appearances for the bianconeri in an 8 year spell, winning 3 scudetto and a UEFA Cup and Peruzzi whilst also becoming a European Champion in 1996.

Peruzzi left Juventus in 1999 and had a season at Inter. In 2000 Lazio splashed out €17.9 million to get Peruzzi as their number one where he would spend 7 seasons and would pick up Italy’s Goalkeeper of the Year award for the third time in 2008.

Peruzzi made 31 appearances for Italy, this would have been more if it wasn’t for the likes of Gianluca Pagliuca, Francesco Toldo & the great Gianluigi Buffon being about at the same time.

His international highlight was being a World Cup winner in 2006 as Buffon’s understudy.

When Calcio Ruled the world, Angelo Peruzzi was frustrating some of Europe’s greatest strikers week in week out.

By John Dougall

Coppa Italia. Roma-Juventus 1-0: Clashes outside the Stadio Olimpico, fans stabbed

Their were clashes between supporters outside the Stadio Olimpico last night after the game between Roma and Juventus. Tension rose as the result match saw Roma progress to the Semi-finals.

Violence started after the match and some supporters have been reported stabbed - according to reports Raisport. Their has been no reports on there conditions as yet nor has it been established if the fans were from Juventus or Roma. The supporters have now been  transferred to the Gemelli Hospital.

By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra

Photos courtesy of @adamlloyd and his superb site flickr.com/photos/adamllo

When Calcio ruled the world: Daniel Fonseca

El Castor (the beaver) arrived on the peninsula in 1990 to join Cagliari from Nacional in Uruguay.

Fonseca would spend 10 years in Serie A with four different clubs. After two successful years at Cagliari, it was Napoli where Fonseca really made his name with when he signed in 1992. The South American scored 31 goals in two seasons. One of his most impressive displays saw him net five goals in a UEFA Cup tie in the 1992-93 season game against Valencia in a 5-1.

This kind of form attracted the attention of Roma who signed him in 1994 to partner Abel Balbo up front in the hope they would form an formidable partnership. Fonseca played just off Balbo as a second striker.

At Roma he never really found the form he had in Naples scoring just 20 goals in three seasons (mainly due to injuries holding him back).

In 1997 Juventus took a chance on Fonseca where he would spend three years scoring just the 10 goals in 40 appearances. It was at Juventus that Fonseca would win his only Scudetto in season 1997-98. In this time he was renowned for being some what of a super sub coming off the bench to score some very important goals. This notably saw him come on to haunt his former club Napoli in November 1997 when he scored in the dying minutes with a vintage left footed strike to secure a vital 2-1 win.

A huge grin showing his famous buck teeth when Fonseca wheeled away to celebrate another goal is a lasting image of 1990’s Calcio.

When Calcio Ruled The World Daniel Fonseca was the image of South American skill, power and glamour that help light up Serie A.

By  @giovanni86 (Giovanni Dougall)

When Juventus take on Inter in the 161st league championship Derby d’Italia tomorrow, they will create the latest chapter in the history of a match-up that has captivated Italian football fans as one of the most fiercely contested in world football.

First and foremost it is a clash between two of the most successful Italian sides, as Juve and Inter have won 49 Scudetto titles between them. But the “Derby d’Italia” term coined by legendary journalist Gianni Brera in 1967 at the height of Italy’s “economic miracle” shows that its significance goes beyond just sport. It is also a battle between the two biggest northern cities, the two greatest industrial and economic powerhouses of the last century.

When Calcio ruled the world: Christian Vieri


Christian Vieri is still one of the most iconic strikers ever to have graced the world game. Over 18 years he played for 12 clubs making 374 appearances and scoring 194 goals. Add to this his national record of 29 goals in 43 games and it is clear to see why he is in the FIFA 100 best players of all time list.

At 6ft 1inch Vieri was the complete predator, strong and instinctive when it came to finishing he had rapid reactions. This was at its most apparent when he was plying his trade with Inter where injuries prevented him fulfilling what could have been one of the most dangerous partnerships of all time with Ronaldo.

Vieri’s career is littered with silverware won at his clubs and personally as well. When Calcio ruled the world, nobody could stop Vieri scoring.