Back once again with a prime slice of Serie A nostalgia, here’s another selection of choice cuts from our man James Richardson’s rummage through his archives, featuring a poignant end to what was undoubtedly the greatest football TV show we ever did see…
Baggio, United try to sign Bergkamp and Sacchi scandal – October 29, 1994
A show that opens with Roberto Baggio and James being spontaneous pals, later featuring some terrific banter with Gianluca Vialli and Ciro Ferrara, also features a pitch invader at Roma v Cagliari, talk of Bayern, Barcelona and Manchester United going in for Dennis Bergkamp, a scandalous salary for Sacchi, the latest chapter in the Foggia miracle and a Milan derby between two rather struggling teams.
But back to that Baggio interview, secured by James in a particularly dark corner of the car park, which by the sounds of things was a bit of a scoop since Il Divin Codino was broadly avoiding the press back then. In many ways it showed why these early Gazzettas were so brilliant, allowing us to hear from players who to a certain extent were aliens, foreign superstars who were on a completely different level to anything we were experiencing at the time in England. Let’s not forget that this interview took place only a few months after Baggio had nearly won the World Cup on his own for Italy.
Zola’s scooter, exasperated Baresi and a Rui Costa banger – November 5, 1994
Well look at this: it’s James with his pal Gianfranco Zola, being the nicest pint-sized Italian in showbiz again. He arrives a little tardy for training on his scooter, but then talks James through how to take the perfect free-kick, his struggles with the national team and a healthy rivalry between him and Baggio.
Elsewhere there’s a clash of the big dogs as Baggio scores a header against Milan, making the great Franco Baresi thoroughly exasperated, although by the sounds of it Roby might have employed some dirty tricks to get the better of Billy Costacurta, Alen Boksic Nat Lofthouses the Cremonese goalkeeper, the Italian riot police go hog wild on a giddy Parma fan, Gabriel Batistuta proves that he can make even the most routine header look sensational and a glorious goal of the month selection. Have a bang on that Rui Costa goal.
A show that opens with one of Jimbo’s greatest hits, he talks to Gianluca Vialli about the move to Chelsea, an interview set in – get this – London, which also covers how Juve were coping post-Luca (and Fabrizio Ravanelli, who also left Turin), him being “able to breathe” in England and his thoughts on the Azzurri.
Meanwhile there’s a right old dust-up between Juventus and Fiorentina, George Weah slots in another couple for Milan, young Damiano Tomassi’s first Serie A goal, Cristiano Lucarelli scores nine goals in a week, Benito Carbone does one to Sheffield Wednesday and Andrea Silenzi returns to Italy, accompanied by footage of him air-kicking in training. Poor Andrea.
Ronaldo shows glimpses of the past and future, scruffy Bobo and naughty Jaap – December 22, 2001
Witness Jimbo in a chilly-looking but festive Rome as he introduces Bobo Vieri scoring truly the scruffiest goal the San Siro has surely ever seen, but most interesting with the benefit of hindsight is perhaps Ronaldo missing an open goal. As Gary Bloom notes on the commentary, he would surely have scored that two years before, and it would have been incredibly easy at that stage, with his knee having been essentially demolished and rebuilt a couple of times, that this was part of sad decline for a man who was still only 25 but had perhaps been ruined by injuries. You certainly wouldn’t have thought that six months or so later he would be scoring twice to win the World Cup final and suddenly become incredibly in-demand, going on to have another five-odd years at the pinnacle of the game.
But then, later in the episode, a glimpse of what was before and what would be again, as Ronaldo – perhaps without the thrilling blur of previous years – scores twice, once rounding the keeper in familiar fashion and hinting that there was in fact life in the old boy yet.
Elsewhere in the Italian news that week was drama at Parma, Paolo Maldini giving the Italian public a scare after being taken off on a stretcher with a knee injury with the 2002 World Cup looming (he was OK…Italy were not), plus an update on Jaap Stam who had just tested positive for steroids. Naughty Jaap.
The Last Gazzetta – May 4, 2002
Look at Roby Baggio there, reacting to the sad news that this was the last Gazzetta as we knew it. James and Serie A would pop up again in assorted guises later on, but this was the last of the glory years. We won’t provide a pithy summary for this one, just invite you to watch and enjoy it. Don’t be sad it was over, be happy it happened.
For more slices of Italian football nostalgia, we can heartily recommend Golazzo, which you can subscribe to here. Or indeed you can get a twice-weekly dose of James Richardson on the Totally Football Show – subscribe here.