The Gentleman Ultra

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Classic Calcio Kit: Roma 2000/2001

Home Kit

Make: Kappa

Sponsor: INA Assitalia

Worn by players such as Hidetoshi Nakata, Damiano Tommasi, Cafu, Gabriel Batistuta, Marco Delvecchio and Francesco Totti.

Fact - This iconic shirt was worn in Roma’s most memorable season of recent times. Fabio Capello lead the Giallorossi to their third Scudetto, their first in seventeen years.

At the start of the 2000/2001 season it was Roma’s bitter rivals Lazio who started the season as defending champions. This year president Franco Sensi splashed the cash and in the summer of 2000 he strengthened the side brining in Argentine defender Walter Samuel to shore up the defence. He also purchased of one of the worlds best strikers in Gabriel Batistuta from Serie A rivals Fiorentina.

The two South Americans were seen as the final pieces of Capello’s jigsaw, as he already had the world class talents of Cafú, Vincenzo Montella and captain Francesco Totti to name but a few.

Capello guided his Roma side to the last sixteen in both the UEFA Cup
and Coppa Italia but it was the last match of the season (when Roma beat Parma), that Capello, thanks to the goals of Francesco Totti, Vincenzo Montella and top scorer Gabriel Batistuta, clinched the Scudetto.

By Giovanni Dougall

Filed under roma totti batistuta Samuel Statio Olimpico Capello

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Remember when? Juventus v Roma 15th February 1997

Location: Stadio delle Alpi, Turin

The unpopular Stadio delle Alpi was almost full as two of Italy’s biggest clubs prepared to go toe to toe.
Marcello Lippi’s European Champions welcomed a struggling Roma side to Turin for this ‘Round 24’ fixture. Brimming with confidence Juventus they sat top of Serie A and were impressing in Europe once again. It was the new summer signing Zinedine Zidane who was the architect to this success.
It would be the talented Frenchman who would set the tone for the afternoon as he bossed the midfield in the opening exchanges. It was Zidane’s deep cross that nearly gave Juventus the lead as Roma’s Giovanni Cervone knocked the ball into the path of Didier Deschamps, he fired it off Vincent Candela for a corner. Juventus would take a well deserved early lead with some superb link up play as Nicola Amoruso played a beautiful one - two with fellow strike partner Christian Vieri. It was a move that would see the fresh faced Vieri open the scoring with a fine strike past Cervone.
Roma tried to get back into the game but were being bullied in the midfield by the likes of Angelo Di Livio, Didier Deschamps and Alessio Tacchinardi.
It would soon be 2-0 as Angelo Di Livio won the ball in the midfield, he set off, dribbling well into the Roma half unchallenged before picking out an exquisite left foot pass for an outstretched Vieri. He managed to get on the end of this and lift the ball over the on coming Cervone. That was 2-0 and I Bianconeri hadn’t got out of second gear yet.
The second half began with Zidane causing all sorts of problems again, this time a free kick from some 20 yards out would see Cervone make a meal of it. Once again he flapped at the ball as it fell to Vieri who was so unfortunate not to get his hat trick, his incredible close range bicycle kick came bouncing back off the upright. 
Young Francesco Totti was trying to get his team back in the game and was starting to see more of the ball this half but it was Roma’s Uruguayan forward Daniel Fonseca who almost got I Giallorossi back in the game. His free kick whistled past Angelo Peruzzi’s post, Fonseca couldn’t believe it and on second viewing you could see why it was a matter of centimetres. 
That was to be as good as it got for Roma as The Old Lady wrapped up all three points with a lovely move. A diagonal ball was played into Atillio Lombardo, he cushioned it first time for Michele Padovano to finish however, he lost his footing at the last minute but strike partner Nicola Amoruso was queuing up behind him to fire home making it 3-0. The dominant Juventus finished the goal scoring as Lippi’s men ran out victorious.
The two sides meet again tonight, with both defending unbeaten records. Can Rudi Garcia’s men keep up the title charge and put a halt to Juventus’s bid for four in a row.
By Giovanni Dougall

Filed under roma juventus serie a totti fonseca

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Remeber when? Youri Djorkaeff v Roma 5th January 1997

Classic Calcio Goal: Youri Djorkaeff v Roma 5th January 1997

Inter Milan v Roma

Season: 1996-1997

Location: Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Goal Scorer: Youri Djorkaeff

French International Djorkaeff was an absolute joy to watch. He lit up Serie A in the 90’s in whe the divison was the toughest in Europe. Djorkaeff, an attacking midfielder with great skill and and eye for goal, he also was capable of breath taking finishing.

Serie A would witness his incredible eye for goal with arguably his finest finish on January 1997. Roy Hodgson’s Inter welcomed Roma to the Giuseppe Meazza, with Inter one goal up, thanks to Maurizio Ganz early strike, Djorkaeff all but put Inter out if site as half time approached.

A shot from the edge of the penalty area was parried by Roma Keeper’ Giorgio Sterchele, only for the Roma defence to fail to clear the rebound sending the ball high in the air. As the ball dropped at a very tight angle Djorkaeff shaped himself and threw himself into the air connecting perfectly with a bicycle kick sending the ball high into the roof of the net for one of the best strikes ever seen in Serie A.

Inter would go on to win the game 3-1 and Djorkaeff ended the season the clubs top scorer with 14 league goals.

By Giovanni Dougall


Filed under inter hodgson san siro roma youri djorkaeff

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Remember when? Francesco Totti v Inter


Classic Calcio Goal: Francesco Totti v Inter October 25th 2005

Teams: Inter v Roma

Season: 2005-2006

Location: Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Goalscorer: Francesco Totti

The two main title contenders would clash an intriguing game in Milan. Roberto Mancini’s defensive minded Inter faced Luciano Spalletti’s quick attacking Roma.

Vincenzo Montella had given the visitors the lead on 12 minutes but the highlight of the game came on the 30 minute mark. A misplaced pass by Inter’s Zé Maria was collected by Francesco Totti just inside his own half, he took the ball off Cambiasso a move that saw the Argentine fall.

He then beat Zé Maria as if he wasn’t there and as he moved forward there still appeared to be no real danger.Totti dribbled towards the goal facing Materazzi next, he teased him before sending him to the floor too. As Totti shaped to shoot, nobody expected the audacious floated chip that went sailing over a helpless Julio Cesar in the Inter goal. 

This made it 2-0, it was an incredible strike from an incredible man.

By Giovanni Dougall


Filed under roma Inter Totti San siro Milan Rome Cambiasso

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The Gentleman Ultras alternative guide to the clubs of Serie A: Lazio

The Stadium

Stadio Olimpico

Team: Lazio and Roma

Capacity: 72,698

Built: 1910

City: Rome

This stadium is Rome’s second Coliseum but this one is active. Since its construction in 1910 it has been a venue for all manner of events, from Fascist rallies, Olympic Games to World Cup Finals. It has seen all emotion known to mankind, love, passion, competition and hatred.

Primarily it is home to arguably the fiercest football rivalry in world football and one of the most passionate derby games on the planet, the Rome derby. The Stadium itself has had many facelifts most notably in 1960 when it was transformed to host the Olympic Games and again in 1990 when the stadium was almost entirely rebuilt was for the World Cup Finals.

In 2008 changes were again made to bring the stadium up to allow it to be classified as one of UEFA’s elite stadiums. This makes the venue perfect for the explosive Derby della Capitale in which Roma and Lazio fight it out to being pride of the city. It is more important for many fans for their team to win the derby rather than the Scudetto.

The Derby involves fireworks, choreographed flag and banner displays and an intense noise level. However, it has also been the scene of violence, racism and extreme Ultra Groups such as Lazio’s infamous Irriducibili and Roma’s legendary Boys Roma.

During the rest of the season, these groups do make sure that the stadium is still an intimidating place to go for away teams.

However, they are constantly struggling against low attendances in their vast arena. For example at one of the low points in recent years, 2010/11, Roma averaged and attendance of 33,952 whilst Lazio only managed an average of 29,122. Things are changing on the Roma side but the Lazio Ultras still boycott many games as they in dispute with how the club is run.

The Ultras

Key Ultra Groups:  Irriducibili (Unbreakables/ Indomitables), Eagles Supporters, Ultras Lazio.

Other Ultra Groups:  Banda Noantri (Our Gang), Viking Lazio, Commandos Monteverde Lazio (C.M.L ’74), Gruppi Associati Bianco Azzurri White and Blue Association Group), Folgore (Lightening), Boys, Marines, Gruppo Sconvolti (The Deranged Group), Gruppo Rock (Rock Group), Ultras 74, Brigate S.Giovanni (S Giovanni Brigade), I Golden Boys, Nucleo Armato Biancazzurro (Nuclear Armed White and Blue), I Vigilantes (The Vigliantes), I Leopard, Eagles’Korps, Gioventus Biancazzurra (White and Blue Youth), Eagles’Girls, Avanguardia (Vanguard) , In Basso a Destra (Down on the Right), Only White, and Caos Group.

T’avemo arzato la coppa in faccia.” ‘We raised the Cup in front of your face’ was a banner flown over the city of Rome. Lazio fans had innovatively hired a light aircraft to deliver the message. Another proclaimed: “The real truth is that we hurt you: 26-05-13.”

This was one of the greatest days in Lazio’s 114-year-history, the day they beat Roma in the Coppa Italia final. For the duration of the summer the Laziali revelled in schadenfreude, tormenting their Roman counterparts at every given opportunity.

For the Derby in September 2013, the Lazio Ultras had planned a special choreography. Balloons would lift a giant Coppa Italia above the Curva Nord, just as a reminder – as if Roma needed one – that it was the Biancocelesti who had won the most important Derby della Capitale in history. The authorities banned the display, wary of the backlash it would likely cause. In a sardonic response the Laziali left the Curva Nord empty for the first five minutes of the game, but for a banner which read:

 ‘Ah, I forgot, it’s the ‘memorial’ derby. I’ll finish my beer first…’

‘Laziale or Romanista?’ There is perhaps no question more important in the eternal city. Founded in 1900, S.S. Lazio is the city’s oldest club. In 1927, when the National Fascist Party merged Rome’s biggest clubs, the Biancocelesti were the only ones to resist. Roma fans claim to support the club that truly represents Rome however Laziali are quick to remind them of who arrived first.

The realm of Lazio’s Ultras – the Curva Nord of the Stadio Olimpico – is world renowned. It has been at the vanguard for some of Italy’s most colourful choreographies. The groups have changed but their support for the Aquile (Eagles) has been steadfast, none more so than the Irriducibili.

Formed in 1987, the first members of the Irriducibili were originally known as Cani Sciolti (Wild Dogs). After dislodging a group called Viking, the character ‘Mr Enrich’ was adopted as their mascot – a little man who kicks furiously – and as one of their members claimed “signifies rebellion against the political and football system.”

In 1992 British flags adorned the Curva following the arrival of cult hero Paul Gascoigne. He was received warmly by the Irriducibili, whounveiled a banner depicting a pint of English beer with the message ‘It’s ready for you’. That year also saw the dissolution of Lazio’s first prominent Ultra group, The Eagles.  They were formed in 1976, two years after the team’s first Scudetto success, which saw the numbers in the Curva proliferate.

The arrival of food tycoon Sergio Cragnotti marked the beginning of one of the clubs most successful eras in which they won their second Scudetto in 2000. This coincided with the clubs centenary year and the Curva Nord’s celebrations brought 25,000 people onto the streets.

Such was the popularity of the group that numbers oscillated between 6-7,000 people, sometimes even more. They became infamous nationwide and a feature which distinguished them was their merchandising business. The group franchised and sold their merchandise in and around Rome. This helped them provide their own away-day packages as well as fund their fanzine - La Voce Della Nord (The Voice of the North).

In a sense the group gained brand notoriety. However their merchandising business was criticised by some in the Curva. This led to a schism in 2006 and a group called Banda Noantri (Our Gang) now known as In Basso a Destra (Low on the Right) were formed.

In the book – Football, Fascism and Fandom – Alberto Testa and Gary Armstrong state:

“The Irriducibili were challenged with the insult of embourgoisement; that they had compromised and were now money driven.”

Both groups co-existed in relative harmony mainly because of their ideological standpoint (both held neo-fascist sentiments), yet four years later a crossroads was reached.

In 2010 the Irriducibili invited a politician, Renata Polverini, (from the moderate right) into the Curva during an election period. At a time where the club were struggling this angered other groups on the Curva. To add insult to injury the politician also sat on the portrait of Gabriele Sandri, a faux pas which was unforgivable.

In respect for what they had done since 1987, Fabrizio Toffolo – the leader of the Irriducibili –announced the dismantling of the group on the radio. Having sought aid from a source that used to sit on the Curva Nord, it would appear the Ultras are now united under the banner of Ultras Lazio. This group is mostly comprised of youngsters and former Irriducibili members. Other smaller groups including Avanguardia, In Basso a Destra, Only White, and Caos Group also reside on the Curva.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to discuss Lazio’s Ultras without mentioning their political extremism, something explored in depth in Football, Fascism and Fandom. At times heinous views have plagued the Curva Nord. Monkey grunts, racist banners and fascist memorabilia have all been used. One particularly unabashedly racist banner was unveiled against Roma reading “Auschwitz is your town; the ovens are your houses.” (The banner was a reference to Roma’s association with the Testaccio neighbourhood which has a Jewish population). Paolo Di Canio performed a fascist salute to the Curva Nord while playing for Lazio during a derby in 2005. Di Canio – a former Irriducibili member – saw the salute as a badge of identity with the Ultras.

The Laziali have also suffered two tragedies. The first was back in 1979, after a Lazio fan called Vincenzo Paparelli was hit in the eye and killed by a flare fired by a Roma supporter. It was Italy’s first football related fatality. In November 2007, a 25-year-old by the name of Gabriele Sandri was shot and killed by a police officer. The police claimed the shooting was accidental after an officer (Luigi Spaccatorella) intervened to stop a fight between Lazio and Juventus supporters at a motorway service stop. Sandri’s death triggered nationwide outrage and emphasised the deep contempt Ultras feel towards the authorities. In the capital, Laziali and Romanisti united causing havoc across the city. Sandri’s funeral attracted over 5,000 mourners.

The Laziali feel it is their duty to look after the clubs best interests. This has led to years of struggle with the Biancocelesti’s president, Claudio Lotito, a pantomime villain in the eyes of many. It appears strange that the Ultras would protest against a man who saved the club from liquidation. But during his tenure Lotito removed the policy of supplying the Irriducibili with 800 free tickets for matches. He also refused to fund the Curva Nord’s choreography and rejected a proposed takeover of the club by former Lazio legend Giorgio Chinaglia. Thus the ultras feel that the only way their Eagles can soar is to jettison Lotito.

This season 6,000 supporters held a protest before their home game against Sassuolo. In the stadium thousands of placards reading ‘Libera Lazio’ (Free Lazio) were on display. At the time of writing, the Ultras have announced they will boycott games for the rest of the season as they continue their Anti-Lotito campaign.

The Laziali and in particular the Irriducibili could be described as pioneers. Having transformed the style of support on the Curva their name has become, one of, if not the, biggest in the domain of the Italian Ultras. When sky blue fumes choke the air and the Curva Nord ripples under a gargantuan banner, to the back-drop of Vola Lazio Vola, the Stadio Olimpico truly becomes the heart-beat of this ancient city.

Classic Player: Giuseppe Signori

“Beppe” Signori was one of the most complete and ruthless forwards of his decade. His name is remembered but why is he not on a pedestal. When one writes about him, the sentence feels like it should start with “Lest we forget”. This is poignant as when he was at Lazio, he was more deadly than the eagle on his shirt, he was immense, he was devastating, so why is he overlooked?

It is true that followers of the Italian game and those abroad know who “Beppe” is. They know he played for Lazio, they know he scored goals but there was so much more. The man with a left foot that destroyed the world’s best league needs more accolades than this, does he not?

Despite humble beginnings at Leffe and Paicenza, he was then part of ‘that’ Foggia side and this earned him his Lazio move in 1992. Here he blasted onto the center stage, as in his first season he scored 23 goals in 24 games leaving him with Serie A’s Golden Boot.

This season saw Italian football start to grace the British shores, thanks to Channel 4 and James Richardson and many in the UK won’t forget him. His trade mark was his ability to poach goals and his devastating consistency with set pieces.

His classic one or two step walk up to the penalty spot, had Lazio fans enthralled and opposition goalkeepers baffled. Penalty after penalty went in this season adding to his total. This and his instinct in the box were not the only things in his locker and if anyone looked back to match day 21 of the 93/94 season, they will see him score a ridiculous long shot against Cremonese in a 4-2 win. The ball was hit so well it threatened to pierce the opposition net.

The 1994/95 season continued in the same vein with Signori scoring 17 in 24, Lazio finished runners up in Serie A and his confidence was evident. He started to drift away from his marker more this year and scored many more goals from open play. He proved much more dynamic, more complete, now adding the odd headed goal into his arsenal.

In 1995/96 Signori achieved the impossible in Serie, scoring 24 goals in 15 games making him the league’s top scorer. This was his high point, his victory in the amphitheatre. Admittedly his penalties and free kicks accumulated a majority of his tally but one step penalties and ballistic free kicks; along with numerous tap-ins, only fuelled his reputation as bloody minded.

This season saw him indulge in the spectacular also, just look at match day eight when he scored an incredible volley against Juventus in 4-0 win. He was starting to drift more out onto the left, deceiving defenders just when they thought they had figured him out.

The 1996/97 season saw him notch 15 in 32 as Lazio finished fourth. This season saw him add, along with the normal repertoire, more work rate as he would come deeper for the ball continually adapting his game. Time was running out and in 1997/98 he scored two goals in six games before leaving for Sampdoria on loan. He still managed to finish top scorer in The Coppa Italiathat year, in an amusing twist of fate.

His career may have been blighted after he retired with accusations of match fixing and batting scandals. He was banned in 2011 from all football activity for five years and it perhaps is this which has muddied the memories.

One thing is for sure, no matter what, when Calcio ruled the World, nobody was and deadly from the spot and nobody had been so single minded in scoring goals.

Filed under lazio Signori Stadio Olimpico Rome irruducibili Roma Calcio Serie A Ultras

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Classic Calcio Kits: Roma 1987 - 1989

Classic Calcio Kits: Roma 1987 - 1989

Home Kit

Make - NR

Sponsor - Barilla

Worn by players such as Giuseppe Giannini, Rudi Völler, Bruno Conti, Daniele Massaro and Sebastiano Nela.

Fact - This strip would be worn in manager Nils Liedholm’s final season in the Eternal City after a disappointing campaign finishing 7th in Serie A and crashing out of the UEFA Cup last 16 to German minnows Dynamo Dresden.

By Giovanni Dougall


Filed under barilla roma serie a Rome Calcio NR Voller Conti Liedholms

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Gabriele Marcotti talks to Richard Hall about the Serie A season ahead

Journalist, author, TV Pundit, podcast host, European Football expert and all round nice guy Gabriele Marcotti, very kindly took some time out to talk to me, about the upcoming Serie A season.

The season seemed some distance away, this being July but I still wanted to know Gabriele’s initial thoughts as to how the season in Italy could pan out. Speaking about the summers events I shamefully asked Gabriele for his predictions.


(Richard) Antonio Conte has walked away from Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri has arrived. Do you think Juventus’s domination of Serie A will suffer because of this, or will it be business as usual?

(Gabriele) I’m answering these questions in late July and as we’ve seen in the past A LOT can happen at the end of the calciomercato. So take that as a caveat. But in general I think Conte is a big loss. Juve still probably have the best squad (either with Vidal or - if Vidal goes - with whoever they bring in) but there will inevitably be a drop off with Allegri. His time at Milan was more successful than people realize, but there’s a big difference between coming in after a so-so year and following a guy like Conte with his three straight. Juve are still the team to beat, but Conte is a massive loss and I think it will be a lot tighter this year. 

(Richard) Both Milan clubs has a torrid time of it last season for their lofty standards. Who do you think is best equipped to deal with the new season?

(Gabriele) I find both Milan and Inter very tough to read at this time. I might suggest Inter are marginally better off simply because they have solid ownership and with Mazzarri you know what you get. (Which may not be great, but at least there’s a solidity there). That said, there seems to be a huge amount of confusion — do you really want Vidic to learn a back three at his age?  But Milan is a roll of the dice. It has been a bad summer. The treatment of Balotelli, the way Seedorf was ditched, the  fact that the Galliani-Barbara issue remains unresolved… it just feels like the medium-term is dire and even a good season this year won’t change the facts.   You either go with youth or you try to win now.  You can repackage Menez and Alex all you like, but they are what they are.  Are the guys you really needed or do they just eat up minutes that could otherwise go to youngster you want to develop?  Inzaghi worked with a lot of the kids and some of them do look really good (Cristante and Mastour above all) but will he get a chance to play them? And if and when Galliani finally goes - this is one situation where I think the Ultras are correct - what will it mean for Inzaghi? Too many questions and it’s sad to see Milan - long one of the best-run clubs in Serie A - in this situation.

(Richard) Palermo, Cesena and Empoli have arrived in Serie A this term. Do you think that any of these teams has a good chance of surviving in the division after this season?

(Gabriele) Palermo are clearly on a different level from the other two in terms of size of club and budgets. They have a very good shot at staying up.  Empoli and Cesena will struggle, I get the impression (and again, as I write this, there’s plenty of mercato to go) that Empoli will push kids and Cesena look for value signings. 

(Richard) Last year ended with the unfortunate scenes in the Coppa Italia final between Napoli and Fiorentina. In your opinion, was this a one off incident caused by an individual and is Serie A in a better place than in recent years?

(Gabriele) I think we hit rockbottom some years ago and we’re in the long, slow climb back. I really do. Despite the many media members, FA executives and politicians who tried to use what happened for their own ends, we do know there WAS NO negotiation with the Napoli Ultras. And the shooter was already a pariah among the mainstream Roma curva as, frankly, any Ultra would be who would consider carrying a firearm.  I look at the reaction and I’m not sure it would have been so vehement a decade ago. I see it as a positive though, obviously, the incident itself and the shooting were dreadful.  But it was precisely because it was so rare and so  unusual that it got so much attention.

(Richard) Zdenek Zeman is at the helm at Cagliari. Do you think this is an exciting new dawn for the club? Or is Zeman tactically outdated now in his approach?

(Gabriele) I wouldn’t describe Zeman as outdated because it implies his football is obsolete because others have got wise to it. That’s not the case for the simple reason that nobody else plays that way so there is nothing to get wise to. I do wonder though to what degree it’s sustainable for an entire season.  And whether the new Cagliari owner is simply looking for a cheap publicity stunt


(Richard) Juventus disappointed in Europe last year by their own admission. Do you think any of the Serie A representatives stand a chance of succeeding in Europe this year?

(Gabriele) Sure. Once you’re in the round of 16, anything can happen.  Rafa Benitez remains one of the best in a two-legged knockout format. And Napoli were unlucky last year.  Roma are deeper and more talented. And I think Juve too are due.

(Richard) Who do you think has made the greatest step forward in this year’s Calciomercato so far?

(Gabriele) It’s way, way early of course. But Roma are squarely ahead right now I think. Iturbe and Astori are instant upgrades, Keita can provide veteran leadership and Cole will be good for another season or two.

(Richard) The usual rumours of Stadium development are resurfacing again (most notably Roma and Udinese).  Until this happens can you see Italian Football ever really making a comeback to sit amongst Europe’s better marketed leagues?

(Gabriele) It will help to some degree, but I don’t think it’s as essential as people make out.  A modern stadium can be more inviting and boost attendances and generate more money. And in some cities it would provide a much-needed boost.  Certainly it’s absurd that in places where they want to build one there are bureaucratic hurdle through which they need to jump.  But I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all.  And sometimes there are other, non-football interests pushing the “stadium-at-all-costs” mentality.

(Richard) What is the overall health of Serie A at present in your opinion?

Gabriele) Better than a few years ago, though it was a shame that the Lotito-Galliani alliance denied us a real innovator like Abodi a year ago. We’ll just have to wait. But I think we’re close to tipping point where the number of progressive, honest, forward-thinking owners outnumbers the rest.  And then we can see true change
(Richard) It’s the last question and yes it’s a horrible prediction. I’m sorry. Who do you think will walk away with the Scudetto this year?
(Gabriele) Aaargh. I hate this.  With the caveat that it’s still July as I write this I’ll say Roma. Which is what I said last year. And Juve proved me wrong.
Everybody at The Gentleman Ultra Would like to thanks Gabriele for his time and insight. We consider him a friend of the site and we follow his work closely and with much interest. We hope to speak to him again soon.
Please take some time to take in some of Gabriele’s work, he is a dignitary of the Press room and has contributed to Times, Corriere dello Sport, ESPN, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Herald, La Stampa.
You can also see him on BT Sport (amongst other TV channels) and also don’t forget to listen to ‘The Game’ Podcast from the Times.
You can follow Gabriele on Twitter @Marcotti
You can also follow ourselves @Gentleman_Ultra
By Richard Hall

Filed under The Gentleman Ultra Gabriele Marcotti Richard Hall Serie A Juventus Inter Milan Napoli Fiorentina Palermo Cesena Empoli Roma

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When Calcio ruled the World: Bruno Conti

Born and bread a Roman Bruno Conti was a true club legend. Spending his whole career with his beloved Giallorossi an icon to Francesco Totti, the original il Capitano used to be in the shape of Conti.

Conti joined his hometown at the age of 18 in 1973, it was a year later away to Torino that Conti made his first team debut.

The young winger would struggle to nail down starting place in his early days at Roma this was arguably down to Conti’s small size and frame standing at just 5ft 6 1/2”.

This led to Conti being loaned out to Serie B outfit Genoa where he could play consistently and gain vital first team experience.

After his second loan spell at Genoa was up, it was all change at Roma with Nils Liedholm now installed as manager. Conti was given his chance and he would cement his first team place, he wouldn’t look back from here.
In the 80’s Conti was a regular at the Olimpico and he would win his first bit of silver wear in the 1980 Coppa Italia.
Conti was fast becoming one of the best most entertaining players in Serie A with his electric pace, phenomenal dribbling ability and precise crossing. In 1982 the world would see what a talent Bruno Conti was as he stared for Enzo Bearzot’s World Cup winning Italy side in Spain. Conti set up Italy’s third in a 3-1 win over Germany in the final.

Now a World Champion Conti returned to his beloved Roma full of confidence and in the form of his life. He was the key player for the Giallorossi as he helped them to win only their second ever Scudetto, yet gain he scored a number of important goals in this campaign.

The following season Roma failed to defend their Serie A title, finishing runners up however, Roma and Conti would lift another Coppa Italia.
It would be a season of disappointment though Roma went on an extraordinary European run getting all the way to the European Cup final. Facing English giants Liverpool at their own Stadio Olimpico in Rome and
with the game tied at 1-1, the tight match went all the way to the dreaded penalty shootout. Roma would lose out thanks to the brilliance of Bruce Grobbelaar in the Liverpool goal with Conti failing to convert his spot kick. It was his biggest disappointment in a Roma shirt.

Conti made over 300 appearances for Roma and would retire from playing aged 36 in 1991 he is a true club legend playing a vital role in bringing some of most glorious years in the clubs history.

When Calcio Ruled The World Bruno Conti would dance past defenders all day long.

By Giovanni Dougall


Filed under conti roma rome serie a totti stadio Olimpico

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'The Stadio Olimpico has been a great place for us to play but it has clearly had its time,' Roma president James Pallotta said on Wednesday.' (The new stadium) is clearly going to give us a competitive advantage.”

"It’s impossible designing a building here without considering the architectural history in Rome," Meis said. "The stadium will have an outer wall that will be a new vision of the Colosseum."

Labeled ‘Stadio della Roma’ for now - until naming rights are awarded - the facility will seat 52,500 spectators and be able to expand to 60,000 for major matches.

Filed under roma Statio Della Roma Rome colosseum Stadio Olimpico

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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

Filed under parma Roma Donadoni Juventus Napoli Lazio Stadio Ennio Tardini

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Classic Serie A Match: Napoli - Roma 10th June 2001

The red hot San Paolo atmosphere was almost as hot as the bright Neapolitan sunshine beating down on the lush green grass. The setting was perfect and emotions were high with both teams having still so much to play for as the second Derby Della Sole of the season was about to get underway.

Fabio Capello’s high flying Roma made the short trip south to take on struggling rivals Napoli. With the likes of Francesco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta, Marco Delvecchio to name but a few at his disposal.

Both sides were having very different seasons sitting at different ends of the table. Roma sitting pretty on top were in a Scudetto fight with Juventus meanwhile Napoli were languishing in 17th and fighting for their lives in a titanic relegation battle with a hand full of other teams.

Roma were hot favourites going into this week 33 tie, their aim was to silence the hostile home support as quickly as possible. They started the match confidently and really should have taken the lead early on as Marco Delvecchio burst down the left flank beating two Napoli defenders after a mix up. He cut inside and had options in the box to square it but continued himself only to have his shot blocked much to the frustration of his strike partners.

It wasn’t all Roma though and it was Napoli’s turn next as Edmundo floated a free kick in only for Nicola Amoruso to head wide, he really should have done better.

It was end to end stuff but neither side could take their chances, Roma forced Francesco Mancini into his first real save of the half as Batistuta drove a low, hard free kick from some 35 yards forcing Mancini down to his right hand side to parry it away.

Both Emiliano Mondonico and Fabio Capello were their usual animated selves on the touch line barking out their instructions and flapping their arms in frustration as chances came and went for both teams. It was Edmundo’s turn to spurn another glorious opportunity as he found himself unmarked six yards out. A free kick was whipped in from the left but he couldn’t find the target heading wide. Bocchetti was next to miss the target as he burst through the centre of the Roma defence only to fire over.

It was surly only a matter of time before the Partenopei  took the lead in this thrilling derby.

Nicola Amoruso was part of the guilty party when it came to not taking his chances but he would finally take one as half time was fast approaching. Amoruso was sent through in the 37th minute he slide and poked the ball past an on rushing Francesco Antonioli. The San Paolo erupted as their team went 1-0 up and in truth it was a deserved lead.

However the lead would only last five minutes as Napoli failed to defend a Francesco Totti corner and Gabriel Batistuta appeared to ghost in unmarked to fire into an empty goal from close range. It was well and truly game on now in this second last round of games with Roma still going for the title and Napoli desperately trying to avoid the drop. 1-1 was how this thrilling first half would end.

The second half go underway and more chances were being wasted, it was Roma who really should have gone 2-1 up shortly after the break as Mancini was called into action to push away a Carlos drive. Napoli didn’t really start the second half and Roma started to take control and became dominant. It was their captain and leader Francesco Totti who gave them the lead in very controversial circumstances. Just seven minutes after the restart Cafu swung a cross in from the right towards Totti who was being very tightly marked, he shaped to control the ball on his chest, hands in the air chest out. The then took the ball off the head of the Napoli defender with his left hand as the ball dropped he unleashed an unstoppable right foot volley past Mancini in the Napoli goal.

Totti went wild leading the Giallorossi celebration as they knew victory here would all but seal the title. Mancini and his Napoli teammates couldn’t believe what they were seeing and were hounding referee Fiorenzo Treossi demanding answers as they knew this goal could be the final nail in their Serie A coffin. The goal was given and Roma led 2-1.

Fabio Capello knew how big this goal was in terms of Roma’s title bid so off came one of the front three, Marco Delvecchio and on came defence minded Cristiano Zanetti to try and see the rest of the half out. Meanwhile Napoli threw on young Brazilian forward Amauri to try and get back in the game. Roma could of (and by Batistuta’s standards probably should have) gone 3-1 up Cafu hung a cross up for Batigol to attack at the back post but he headed over.

It was Cafu’s turn now to put Roma 3-1 up as Tomassi send the Brazilian through down the right he flew down the wing only fire straight at Mancini. Roma really should’ve been out of site by now. The crowd had the feeling the more chances Roma missed it was going to come back to haunt them and it did on the 82nd minute as Napoli were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the 18 yard box. Fabio Pecchia stood over it you could feel the tension in the ground as a goal here could make or break both teams season.  It really wasn’t the best free kick you’ll ever see as Pecchia right footed seemed to strike the ball through the middle of a weak Roma wall then it beat Antonioli in the centre of his goal showing very week wrists.

The Napoli faithful were roaring with joy as fans cried the pyrotechnics were going off you’d think Napoli just won the league. Napoli very nearly won it in the dying moments as Francesco Moriero danced his way into the box only to fire straight at Antonioli.

There was still time for Roma to win this end to end classic as Zanetti lobbed a ball over the Napoli defence for Vinceno Montella leaving him with just Mancini to beat but yet again the Napoli goalkeeper made a heroic save keeping the scores level. He was having a great game in the Napoli goal.

That was to be the last chance of the game it ended 2-2 with Juventus winning away at Vicenza the Scudetto race was going to the final day of the season.

The two sides meet this evening with both teams competing at the top of the table let’s hope we get another end to end classic derby as we got on that sunny Neapolitan afternoon in June 2001.

By Giovanni Dougall

Filed under Napoli Roma san paolo scudetto batistuta totti

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Walter Mazzarri’s Inter Are Lacking an Identity

"This year is for me to assess the squad. The lads have to prove themselves and every match provides extra information. We’ll add everything up at the end then look at who stays and all the rest of it. Our target for the moment is to finish as high as possible." Walter Mazzarri speaking to Sky Italia.

The Inter Coach was speaking after his side drew 0-0 with Roma on Saturday night and indicated that this season was one of self-discovery. Perhaps it was a wise move setting targets that he could not fail to hit. After all, wherever Inter finish it is unlikely to be lower than last year and so ultimately he will call it a success. In real terms he is expressing his need for time to sort out the playing staff and this point at least is fair.

It is no secret that Inter’s squad is aging and a turnover of players is long overdue. The time needed to transform the squad however is not the only problem—it is also the manner in which this achieved. The Nerazzurri do have some promising players in their ranks and, although the old guard are still to be given their golden handshakes, change should be on the horizon.

Samir Handanovic will be the keeper for the foreseeable future and Francesco Bardi will be his talented understudy next year when he returns from Livorno. The defence already has Juan Jesus, Andrea Rannochia and the newly signed Nemanja Vidic amongst its ranks. The midfield has star man Hernanes surrounded by the likes of Ricky Alvarez, Fredy Guarin and Mateo Kovacic whilst Rodrigo Palacio up front is partnered by highly promising Mauro Icardi.

There is a mixture of young players who can fill some of the gaps coming back off loan (many of whom won the NextGen Series under Andrea Stramaccioni) and they do currently sit in fifth place. It can be agreed that they are perhaps light up front and that the wing-back positions are up for debate. The latter has seen both Jonathan and Yuto Nagatomo improve, but are they good enough?

Here within lies the problem as Walter Mazzarri favours a 3-4-1-2 or 3-5-2 (the specifics matter little as the point is about the style). The main focus of his game is to attack on the flanks and attack with speed. At Napoli he was seen as one of the best coaches in Italy and his ‘three tenors’ Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik tore the opposition to shreds. This team featured lightening quick wing-backs who added to this deadly attacking side.

This has not worked at the Nerazzurri as Palacio is no Cavani and does not carry the goal threat, the wing-backs are simply not of the same quality and until the arrival of Hernanes there had been nobody suitable to fill the trequartista role. This has resulted in a tactical system not having anywhere near the impact it should. The fact is, it hasn’t been horrendous, it hasn’t been good, it hasn’t really been anything.

Inter’s squad has therefore lacked an identity, it is neither defensive (the errors at the back will tell that tale) nor is it offensive (the build-up play is slow and laborious), and yet they sometimes can grind out a result.

There is no doubt Inter will get to the summer and analyse everything as Mazzarri predicted. What they will find is that either the system will have to change or there will be a huge turnover in the playing staff (perhaps even both.) Should they fail to do this, next season will be nothing more than a carbon copy of this one.

By Richard Hall @Gentleman_Ultra

Filed under Inter Roma Mazzarri Nagatomo jonathan Napoli

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Classic Serie A matches: Roma 0-3 1988/89

Italian football was feeling the warm glow of a golden age on its face in the late 1980’s. Italia 90 was around the corner and stars of world football were lining up to play in this elite division. It was during these heady days that Giovanni Trapattoni assembled an Inter team that swept all before it. Countless games during this season live long in the memory of the Nerazzurri and the 0-3 away win at Roma was one of the best.

Although Inter flattered to deceive in the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup it could be argued in their defence that it was due to the focus on the Scudetto. This was the era of Maradona’s Napoli and no chances could be taken big games needed to be won in Serie A and Inter gave this their full focus.

Roma were under the joint leadership of Nils Liedholm and Luciano Spinosi and had recruited a good group of players themselves. Players such as Bruno Conti and Ruggiero Rizzitelli complemented the world class internationals Giuseppe Giannini and Rudi Voller. It has to be said that seventh place was a huge underachievement for this team especially when this team also bowed out of domestic and European competition early.

The game in March was played in bright sunshine and at an electric pace. Things could have been different early on when Voller was unlucky not to force Giannini’s volleyed cross into Walter Zenga’s goal. This seemed to wake Inter who immediately started to put Roma under pressure and on the twelfth minute a clever ball through from Nicola Berti found Lothar Matthäus who powered through the midfield and slotted the ball neatly under Franco Tancredi.

The Nerazzurri went from strength to strength and it was not long before they had Roma on the ropes, Matthäus won the ball in midfield and played a neat one two with Giuseppe Bergomi before crossing in perfectly for the onrushing Aldo Serena. It was a perfect header from a proven goal scorer. His opposite number although just as deadly was not having the best of days, Voller had two tame efforts at the Inter goal that found the safe hands of Zenga, on another day they could have found the net.

Roma continued to push on and Giannini and Voller combined again and perhaps should have had a penalty. This was not forth coming and the Giallorossi allowed Inter to finish the game in style. On the 75 minutes Ramon Diaz created a moment of quality when he nutmeged Sebastiano Nela before crashing the ball into the top corner.

This was the fourth game in in a fifteen game unbeaten run that saw the Nerazzurri deservedly win the Scudetto. The black and blue half of the San Siro celebrated a season that had been simply breathtaking and games like the one in the Stadio Olimpico have now gone down in legend.

Filed under Inter Voller matthaus brehme Rome Roma stadio olimpico

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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

Filed under Peruzzi Buffon Toldo Lazio Inter Roma Juventus