Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Soccer Memories-Part 25

The rise and fall of KV Mechelen : The Belgian club with Dutch Flair

(Note: I would like to once again thank for uploading this article  )

When one thinks of Belgian club soccer, most immediately think of Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege. However, for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, small club KV Mechelen (Malines, for French Speakers), held its own not only domestically but also with the continent’s best. This heavily Dutch reinforced club showed that with many efficient signings, it could win trophies at home and abroad.
The team achieved promotion to the Belgian First Division in 1981, at which point the club was taken over by the Telindus Company of John Cordier.
The team’s initial stay in the First Division was very short as it finished last for the 1981/82 season.  John Cordier was elected to the Club Presidency in 1982 and in the coming years instituted changes to build a competitive team.
The team was promoted again in 1983 and stayed there to write the best pages of its history.
Success did not come overnight and Mechelen struggled for a few seasons. In these first few seasons back, the Dutch Manager Leo Canjels could not muster more than First Division survival as a result he departed midway through the 1984/85 season.
From 1985 onwards Ernest Kunnecke managed the team and he could already count upon future mainstays of the team such as Dutch striker Piet Den Boer, West German midfielder Joachim Benfled, Albert Cluytens, Raymond Jaspers, Geert Deferm, Wilfried Dommicent and Koenrad Sanders. Though that was still insufficient for European qualification.
The first significant player purchases occurred in the summer of 1985 as Ronny Martens (Gent), Gaston Boeckstaens (Antwerp), former International Walter Meeuws (Ajax) and most importantly the Dutch duo of defender Graeme Rutjes (Excelsior Rotterdam) and midfielder Erwin Koeman (Groningen) joined the club.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 136, April 1987
(Ronny Martens)

Despite these acquisitions the team struggled for the 1985/86 season with an ultimate eleventh place finish, as a result midway through the season Cordier appointed the young Authoritarian Dutch Manager Aad De Mos. The former Ajax Manager De Mos had won League titles with Ajax and had overseen the developments of Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard among others.

Photo From: Foot Magazine, Issue 79, May 1988
(Aad De Mos)

It was the following season (1986/87) that Mechelen really established itself as a player in the Belgian Football scene.
More significant player purchases signaled their ambition.
Three key defensive signings were made. Goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme joined after a nearly a decade at Standard Liege. National team defender Leo Clijsters arrived from Waterschei. Dutch defender Wim Hofkens arrived from Beerschot following a long spell at giants Anderlecht. Defender Paul Theunis arrived from Beveren and midfielders Alain De Nil and Paul De Mesmaeker arrived from Molenbeek.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, 1989
(Leo Clijsters)

With a stronger lineup, Mechelen challenged the giants of Anderlecht for the League title and pushed them all the way to the end. In the end Anderlecht won just by two points. Mechelen’s solid defense conceded only 18 goals the entire season. To cap a strong season, Mechelen triumphed in the Belgian Cup by defeating FC Liege on June 14, 1987 (1-0) from a goal by Piet Den Boer.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 136, April 1987
(Piet Den Boer and Paul De Mesmaeker)

This opened the doors to the Cup Winners Cup and a first foray in European Competition. In addition to instituting full professionalism at the club, John Cordier was being praised for a number of innovative ideas. For instance, installing Luxury boxes at their home stadium for companies to invite their clients. Another novel concept was founding of a Company (Cova Invest) to buy the players and loan them back to the team.
With a backbone of a team in place, Mechelen made another number of purchases. Walter Meeuws retired and Ronny Martens left to join Gent.
Israeli striker Eli Ohana joined from Beitar Jerusalem, along with future Belgian International midfielder Marc Emmers from Waterschei and Pascal De Wilde from Harelbeke.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 149, May 1988
(Eli Ohana)

By now Dutch Football was going through a renaissance and that influence was very visible at Mechelen. Apart from the Manager, Graeme Rutjes, Wim Hofkens, Erwin Koeman and Piet Den Boer contributed to the positive image of Dutch Football that was about to take Europe at International level.
It was also during this season (1987/88) that Michel Preud’homme was elevated as Belgium’s number one goalkeeper, a position that he would hold on to until 1994.
Mechelen once again fought for the League Title, but once again had to contend for a runner-up finish behind the other local giant Club Brugge.
However, Mechelen wrote its name in the history books by their Cup Winners Cup run.
Romania’s Dinamo Bucharest (1-0, 2-0 away) and Scotland’s St Mirren (0-0, 2-0 away) were eliminated in the first two rounds with Mechelen’s defense unbreached.
In the quarterfinals, USSR’s Dinamo Minsk was eliminated after two closely fought contests (1-0, 1-1 away). In the semifinals, Mechelen faced the surprising second Division Italian side of Atalanta and defeated them home and away by the score of 2-1. 

Photo From: Foot Magazine, Issue 79, May 1988
(Graeme Rutjes and Marc Emmers celebrating Mechelen’s qualification, April 20, 1988, Cup Winners Cup, Atalanta 1-Mechelen 2) 

For the Final, they faced the defending Champions Ajax at Strasbourg’s La Meinau Stadium on May 11, 1988. In a memorable year for Holland, PSV Eindhoven won the Champions Cup, the Cup Winners Cup opponents were Ajax and a Mechelen side with a strong Dutch contingent and with many of these same players the national team triumphed in the UEFA European Championships in West Germany.
For the Cup Winners Cup Final, Mechelen triumphed from a goal by Den Boer. In just a number of years Cordier had transformed an average team into European silverware winners. Following this victory, he summed up the team’s philosophy: ambitious players such as Ohana who want to go places and avoid unambitious and injury prone players.
With European glory achieved, all the elements were in place to finally land a League title.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 150, June 1988
(Piet Den Boer celebrating the winner , May 11, 1988, Cup Winners Cuyp, Mechelen 1-Ajax 0)

Young striker and future National team Manager Marc Wilmots arrived from St Truiden, along with another Dutch International, Ajax’s Johnny Bosman. Future International midfielder Bruno Versavel arrived from Lokeren, along with Frank Leen from Lommel.
Despite resistance from Anderlecht, Mechelen deservedly won the League title for the 1988/89 season and the fourth in its history since winning three titles in the 1940s.
Along the way, they also won the UEFA Super Cup by defeating PSV Eindhoven in February 1989 (3-0, 0-1 away).

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 24, January 1991
(Marc Wilmots)

They defended their European crown all the way up to the semifinals, After eliminating Avenir Beggen in the First Round, they eliminated their local League rivals Anderlecht in the second Round (1-0 and 2-0 away). They eliminated West Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarterfinals to face Gianluca Vialli’s equally ambitious Sampdoria side in the semifinals. Despite winning 2-1 at home, they were swept aside 0-3 at Genoa.
Following this triumphant season, Aad De Mos surprisingly announced that he was leaving and joining rivals Anderlecht. This took many by surprise and Koenrad Sanders whose excellent season had earned him a cap in 1989, expressed his disappointment and the importance of De Mos by saying that he had been successful in turning modest players like himself into much improved players and now he was taking all that and his knowledge of Mechelen’s inner workings to their greatest rival.
As his replacement, Cordier appointed former Dutch great Ruud Krol, who had no previous coaching experience.
Also leaving was veteran Dutch striker Piet Den Boer who joined Bordeaux.
International defender Phillipe Albert came on board to strengthen the defense, while striker Francis Severyns arrived after a disappointing season at Pisa in the Serie A. Bruno Versavel’s brother Patrick also joined him at Mechelen from Lokeren.
Mechelen started the Season in an unconvincing fashion and soon Krol’s inexperience was blamed for the stuttering start.
He was replaced by Assistant Fi Van Hoof who somewhat steadied the ship.
They had to contend with a third place finish in the League (1989/90 season) behind Champions Club Brugge and Anderlecht.
In the Champions Cup, they successfully defeated Noway’s Rosenborg and Sweden’s Malmo in the first two rounds. In the Quarterfinals, they faced the defending Champions and eventual repeat winners the mighty AC Milan.
After a scoreless tie at home in the first leg, they more than held there own in the return leg at San Siro but finally succumbed with two goals in overtime.
This was perhaps as high as Mechelen was able to attain continentally and slowly in the coming seasons the team was broken apart and weakened due to financial reasons.
That summer Graeme Rutjes joined Anderlecht, which would become the favorite future destination of many of Mechelen’s stars.
Eli Ohana left and joined Portugal’s Braga, while Dutch Internationals Erwin Koeman and Johnny Bosman joined PSV Eindhoven.
The new recruits including players such as Sweden’s Klas Ingesson (IFK Gothenburg), Dutch International Rene Eykelkamp (Groningen), Australian striker Zlatko Arambasic and Romanian Lucian Ilie were not the top quality recruits that the club had been used to in the preceding years. They nevertheless finished runner-up behind Anderlecht in the League (1990/91 season), but were defeated in the Cup Final to Club Brugge.
In the UEFA Cup they were eliminated in the first round by Sporting Lisbon.
Following this season, Wim Hofkens and Pascal De Wilde also departed.
Georges Leekens came on board as Manager, but the team was continuing to weaken. Its most significant purchase for the (1991/92 season) was Swedish striker Kennet Andersson. Its financial difficulties were further illustrated when during the season they were forced to sell Marc Emmers and Bruno Versavel to Anderlecht. The team’s slow decline left them with a fourth place finish and narrow UEFA Cup qualification. The team once again reached the Cup Final but was defeated by Antwerp after a penalty kick shoot-out.
In UEFA Cup, they were once again eliminated in the First Round to Greece’s PAOK.
Veteran Leo Clijsters left at the end of that season to play for FC Liege for one final season.
Phillipe Albert also joined the growing former Mechelen players’ colony at Anderlecht.
By 1992, John Cordier announced that he would leave the club by the end of the season due to financial difficulties. He had personally bought many of the players and to save his company he was forced to sell off players.
With Fi Van Hoof back at the helm, Mechelen finished the season (1992/93) at Third place and qualified for UEFA Cup. In the UEFA Cup, they were able to survive two rounds, after eliminating Orebro they were stopped by Holland’s Vitesse Arnhem.
This was the last season where Mechelen was significant in the League, as in the following campaigns they ended in mid table positions at best.
The following season (1993/94) was also their last European adventure, as the club reached the Third Round after defeating Norkopping and MTK Budapest. However, The Italians of Cagliari ended Mechelen’s European adventure that stretched back to 1987.
Michel Preud’Homme finally left the club in the summer of 1994 as the last remnant of the glorious era.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 136, April 1987
(Michel Preud’Homme)

The club was relegated in 1996/97 and with the financial situation unresolved, the club was liquidated on December 7, 2002. Since then the club has been saved and even earned promotion to the First Division in 2008.
John Cordier passed away on January 22, 2002, aged just 57.  He oversaw the creation a great team from modest means, but as is the tale of small teams, the winning momentum is temporary and is always at the mercy of bigger and wealthier clubs.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 150, June 1988
(Mechelen squad, Top, left to right : Graeme Rutjes, Geert Deferm , Eli Ohana, Michel Preud’Homme, Piet Den Boer, Erwin Koeman, Bottom, left to right : Pascal De Wilde, Marc Emmers, Leo Clijsters, Koenrad Sanders, Wim Hofkens, May 11, 1988, Cup Winners Cuyp, Mechelen 1-Ajax 0)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Full Magazines, Part Four

1- Magazine Name: Onze
Issue: Issue 33, September 1978
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Onze, Issue 33, September 1978

2- Magazine Name: Onze
Issue: Issue 55, July 1980
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Onze, Issue 55, July 1980

3- Magazine Name: Onze-Mondial
Issue: Issue 111, April 1998
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 111, April 1998

4- Magazine Name: World Soccer
Issue: May 1966
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: World Soccer, May 1966

5- Magazine Name: World Soccer
Issue: October 1979
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: World Soccer, October 1979

6- Magazine Name: World Soccer
Issue: March 1989
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: World Soccer, March 1989

7- Magazine Name: World Soccer
Issue: May 1993
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: World Soccer, May 1993

8- Magazine Name: Mondial
Issue: Old series, Issue 12, January 1978
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Mondial, old series, Issue 12, January 1978

9- Magazine Name: Mondial
Issue: new series, issue 51, June 1984
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 51, June 1984

10- Magazine Name: Fussball Magazin
Issue: August 1986
Language/Nation: German / West Germany

Photo From: Fussball Magazin, August 1986

11- Magazine Name: Voetbal International
Issue: February 28-March 5, 1977
Language/Nation: Dutch / Holland

Photo From: Voetbal International, February 28-March 5, 1977

12- Magazine Name: Voetbal International
Issue: October 15, 1983
Language/Nation: Dutch / Holland

Photo From: Voetbal International, October 15, 1983

13- Magazine Name: Foot Magazine
Issue: Issue12, April 1982
Language/Nation: French/Belgium

Photo From: Foot Magazine, Issue12, April 1982

14- Magazine Name: Soccer International
Issue: April 1993
Language/Nation: English / USA

Photo From: Soccer International, April 1993

15- Magazine Name: Guerin Sportivo
Issue:    December 10-16, 1986
Language/Nation: Italian / Italy

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, December 10-16, 1986

16- Magazine Name: Football Magazine
Issue: Issue 29, June 1962
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Football Magazine, Issue 29, June 1962

17- Magazine Name: Football Magazine
Issue: Issue 215, August 1977
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: Football Magazine, Issue 215, August 1977

18- Magazine Name: Goal
Issue: Issue 1, October 1995
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: Goal, Issue 1, October 1995

19- Magazine Name: Placar
Issue: September 25, 1970
Language/Nation: Portuguese / Brazil

Photo From: Placar, September 25, 1970

20- Magazine Name: Marca
Issue: June 30, 1966
Language/Nation: Spanish / Spain

Photo From: Marca, June 30, 1966

21- Magazine Name: El Grafico
Issue: Issue 2684-March 1971
Language/Nation: Spanish / Argentina

Photo From: El Gráfico Issue 2684-March 1971

22- Magazine Name: Don Balon
Issue: Issue 361, September 7-13, 1982
Language/Nation: Spanish / Spain

Photo From: Don Balon- Issue 361, September 7-13, 1982

23- Magazine Name: Don Balon
Issue: Apendice Extra Liga 1991/92
Language/Nation: Spanish / Spain

Photo From: Don Balon- Appendix 1991/92

24- Magazine Name: Kicker
Issue: Kicker_WM-Sonderheft_1978
Language/Nation: German / West Germany

Photo From: Kicker_WM-Sonderheft_1978

25- Magazine Name: Soccer Monthly
Issue: November 1979
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: Soccer Monthly, November 1979

26- Magazine Name: Football Monthly
Issue: March 1980
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: Football Monthly, March 1980

27- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 630, April 15, 1958
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: France Football, Issue 630, April 15, 1958

28- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 977, December 1, 1964
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: France Football, Issue 977, December 1, 1964

29- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 1650, November 22, 1977
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: France Football, Issue 1650, November 22, 1977

30- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 2066, November 12, 1985
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2066, November 12, 1985

31- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 2375, October 15, 1991
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2375, October 15, 1991

32- Magazine Name: Calcio 2000
Issue: Issue 25, December 1999
Language/Nation: Italian / Italy

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 25, December 1999

33- Magazine Name: Sport 1983
Issue: Issue 11
Language/Nation: Romanian / Romania

Photo From: Sport 1983, Issue 11

34- Magazine Name: Ceskoslovensky sport
Issue: 1982 11 29 #1,3-4,8
Language/Nation: Czech / Czechoslovakia

Photo From: Ceskoslovensky sport 1982 11 29 #1,3-4,8

35- Magazine Name: L’Equipe Magazine
Issue: June 30, 1990
Language/Nation: French/France

Photo From: L’Equipe Magazine, June 30, 1990

36- Magazine Name: Start
Issue: Issue 49, 1981
Language/Nation: Czech / Czechoslovakia

Photo From: Start, Issue 49, 1981

37- Magazine Name: Football Italia
Issue: April 1997
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From: Football Italia, April 1997

38- Magazine Name: Charles Buchan's Football Monthly
Issue: December 1967
Language/Nation: English/UK

Photo From:  Charles Buchan's Football Monthly, December 1967

39- Magazine Name: AS Color
Issue: Issue 259, May 4, 1976
                  Language/Nation: Spanish / Spain

Photo From:  AS Color, Issue 259, May 4, 1976
AS Color, Issue 259, May 4, 1976

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When Calcio Ruled the Football World-A Personal Journey-Part Three (1984/85)

The 1984/85 season started with me living in a different country (France) for the first time.
Fortunately, for me, France was a footballing country with many outlets to follow my sport. In fact the Television and Print access that I was exposed to was superior to what I had been used to up to that point.
In a way this made it easier to cope with all the typical difficulties associated with such a move and culture shock. It also helped that I could at least read in French prior to being there.
As far as magazines, I was already familiar with the monthlies (Onze and Mondial). But I was completely surprised upon discovering the weekly ‘France Football’.  This amazing magazine obviously emphasized on the local League scene, however, their international news was just as amazing with local correspondents from each country analyzing the events on and off the field. Needless to say, the coverage of Serie A took slight precedence over the other Leagues. The Serie A had been the Top League for decades, but certainly the presence of their Champion Platini also increased interest for the French Press.
We arrived in France just a couple of months after the UEFA European Championship Finals and at this point Michel Platini was the undisputed number one player in the world.
That summer of 1984 a multitude of foreign stars arrived in Italy. It seemed like every 1982 World Cup star was hired. None was more significant than Argentina’s Diego Maradona joining Napoli in a circus of publicity (not to mention a record fee) after two disappointing seasons at Barcelona wrecked by injury. His compatriot Daniel Bertoni joined him from Fiorentina.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 53, August 1984
(Maradona’s introduction at San Paolo)

Bayern Munich and West Germany Captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge left Bayern after a decade and joined Internazionale Milano. Irish Midfielder Liam Brady joined him in Milan, transferring from Sampdoria.

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, October 24-30, 1984
(Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at Inter)

Scotland and Liverpool midfielder Grame Souness, fresh off a Champions Cup triumph, joined Sampdoria, teaming up with fellow Brit, English striker Trevor Francis, who had been at Samp for two years now.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2005, September 11, 1984
(Junior at Torino and Graeme Souness at Sampdoria)

AC Milan, now under old Manager Nils Liedholm back from AS Roma, also signed a British duo. Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins and Portsmouth striker Mark Hateley joined a squad already skippered by future Legend Franco Baresi that included Mauro Tassoti, Alberigo Evani and veteran striker Paolo Virdis.
Brazilian Junior arrived from Flamengo, to join an ambitious Torino side that already contained Austrian striker Walter Schachner and a newly arrived young striker from Inter, Aldo Serena.
Brazil Captain Socrates joined Fiorentina from Corinthians to join fellow South American and Argentina Captain Daniel Passarella.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2011, October 25, 1984
(Socrates at Fiorentina)

West German midfielder Hansi Muller, now a surplus to requirements at Inter joined newly promoted Como, along with Swedish Dan Corneluisson who had just won the Bundesliga title with Stuttgart.
Newly promoted Atalanta registered two Swedes, Lars Larsson and Glen Stromberg from Benfica who would stay with them for eight seasons.
1970s Polish star Wladyslaw Zmuda joined newly promoted Cremonese in a bid to avoid the already predicted relegation spot.
The most significant and key foreign signings turned out to be those of Verona. West Germany’s hard man Hans-Peter Briegel arrived from Kaiserslautern and Denmark striker Preben Elkjaer-Larsen joined from Belgian side Lokeren after starring in the recent Euros.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2005, September 11, 1984
(Ray Wilkins flanked by Verona’s Briegel and Elkjaer)

The previous seasons’ big two, Juventus and AS Roma held on to their foreign players already on their books (Platini, Boniek, Falcao and Cerezo).
Udinese were also satisfied with their Brazilian pair of Zico and Edinho.
As far as Italian players, Juventus’ long serving defender Claudio Gentile left and joined Fiorentina. In his place arrived Luciano Favero from Avellino. Striker Domenico Penzo also left ‘La Vecchia Signora’ and joined Napoli, he was replaced by Genoa’s Massimo Briaschi.
Veteran midfielder Franco Causio left Udinese and joined Inter, while Salvatore Bagni joined Maradona at Napoli from Inter.
Former AS Roma captain Agostino Di Bartolomei rejoined his Manager Liedholm at AC Milan.
The addition of all these World stars such as Maradona, Rummenigge, Socrates, Junior, etc., only increased the hype and prestige surrounding the Serie A. It was unquestionable at this point; the Serie A was THE destination of the World’s best.
A few weeks into the season, the importance of the Serie A was exemplified by ‘France Football’ devoting an entire page that was taken from ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’. It featured every match with lineups and player ratings as taken from the Italian newspaper, along with the commentary from the local journalists. One must remember such an undertaking and analysis was very rare at a time when magazines just showed the scores and table positions with a written commentary on the week’s events.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2029, February 26, 1985
(A sample of France Football coverage on Serie A)

The television coverage was just as strong; the highlights of Italian League matches were regularly shown.
In fact, Platini himself hosted a weekly show with journalist Bernard Père called ‘Numero 10’. The program covered the League matches of England, West Germany, and Spain with special emphasis on the Serie A, with most of the matches’ highlights shown.
As far as the season itself, the usual contenders from the previous seasons, Juventus and AS Roma, were having poor seasons, probably burnt out after so many closely contested campaigns.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 56, November  1984
(Mondial devoting a cover and special report on the importance of Calcio, with AC Milan’s Paolo Virdis and  Juventus’ Luciano favero on the cover, with other world stars under the main photo)

As Roma had to contend with the new methods of new Swedish Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson who had arrived from Benfica with the hard act of following fellow Swede Liedholm. Brazilian star Falcao’s serious injury also disrupted their season and he was never the same player afterwards.
At Juve, Platini was still scoring regularly despite the team’s overall poor campaign, he would end up as the League’s top goalscorer for the third year in a row with 18 goals.
Zbigniew Boniek was still inconsistent in the League while performing better in the European Cup stage.
With the two giants having poor seasons, the chasing pack took advantage.
Napoli, despite all the fanfare of Maradona’s arrival, was still a work in progress and would endure an average season, though there was a promise of a brighter future specially when Maradona performed better in the second half of the season. Fiorentina also had a disappointing campaign, the early season injury of Giancarlo Antognoni robbed them of their most creative element, while Socrates was a fiasco and never settled in the Serie A. Zico would also endure a poor season, in sharp contrast to his previous season, and would be relieved to rejoin Flamengo at the send of the season.
Verona, Torino and Inter fought it out for the Scudetto. Verona led the pack from virtually the very first match of the season (3 to 1 win vs. Maradona’s Napoli). The veteran Manager Osvaldo Bagnoli had assembled a fine squad and many of the Italian supporting cast would earn caps in the near future. These included Pietro Fanna, Roberto Tricella, Antonio Di Gennaro and Giuseppe Galderisi.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2013,  November 6, 1984
(Antonio Di Gennaro, Domenico Volpati and Hans-Peter Briegel)

Inter reinforced by Rummenigge and Brady were Verona’s main rivals for most of the season, the team included many current and future Italian national team players such as Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Bergomi, Riccardo Ferri, Giuseppe Baresi, Antonio Sabato and Alessandro Altobelli. In the end they finished third behind a strong Torino squad with an impressive Junior.
Sampdoria and AC Milan rounded out the top five and European spots.
Sampdoria won the Coppa Italia (long after the season had ended) by defeating AC Milan.
In the end Verona’s consistency earned them a deserved Title. They had the best defense and only lost two matches the entire season.
Juventus and Roma finished 6th and 7th respectively. Juventus saved its best for the Champions Cup they desperately wanted to win after the heartbreak vs. SV Hamburg two years before. Unfortunately the triumph vs. Liverpool would be stained by the tragedy of Heysel.
It also must be noted that Paolo Maldini made his debut for AC Milan that season as a 16 year old. He would be a fixture for the next 24 seasons.
At the end of that summer, my family and I once again left and emigrated to the United States as our permanent residence (1985/86 season, to be continued…..)

Photo From: Calcio 2000, June 1999
(Hellas Verona squad, 1984/85, Top, left to right: Osvaldo Bagnoli, Preben Elkjer, Luigi Sacchetti, Claudio Garella, Sergio Spuri, Hans-Peter Briegel, Silvano Fontolan, Leonardi, Middle, left to right: Roberto Tricella, Domenico Volpati, Giuseppe Galderisi, Luciano Marangon, Pietro Fanna, Antonio Di Gennaro  , Bottom, left to right: Dario Dona, Luciano Bruni, Franco Turchetta, Fabio Marangon, Mauro Ferroni )