Sunday, August 3, 2014

When Calcio Ruled the Football World-A Personal Journey-Part Two (1983/84)

The 1983/84 season was the first Football season that I followed from the start as a knowledgeable fan (as knowledgeable as a 10 year old can be).
By now, I was familiar with the various European Leagues and the players and the differences associated with each.
During that summer offseason, a friend of the family who was leaving the country left me his possession of Sports magazines (it was called ‘Donyaye Varzesh’ (World of Sports)). This collection stretched back to the 1980/81 season.
I spent those summer months reading the magazines and like a sponge absorbed the information with great interest and caught up with the last few seasons.
With the new Serie A season on the horizon, Juventus were in a confident mood due to their positive run at the end of the previous season, with Platini at his zenith.
Captain and Inspirational goalkeeper Dino Zoff had retired and Roberto Bettega had left the Serie A for Canada’s Toronto Blizzard in an act of pre-retirement.
The rest of the squad was intact that still included five World Cup winners.
Stefano Tacconi had arrived from Avellino to replace Zoff, while Domenico Penzo arrived from Verona to replace Bettega.
Defending Champions AS Roma, led by World Cup heroes Bruno Conti and Brazilian Paulo Roberto Falcao, had also been active in the transfer market.
They had acquired Brazilian midfielder Toninho Cerezo to replace Austrian Herbert Prohaska.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 44, November 1983
(Brazilian Toninho Cerezo at AS Roma)

World Cup winning striker Francesco Graziani had arrived from Fiorentina to partner up Roberto Pruzzo.
Both teams were the title favorites with AS Roma also eyeing the Champions Cup, with the Final to be played at their home stadium.
I was also made aware that the defending League Champions played the following season with a small Italian Flag on their jerseys.
I had noticed that on Juventus’ jerseys the previous season, without realizing its significance. But this season it was AS Roma that had the Italy flag on their shirts.
Another novelty was the promotion of AC Milan, the neighbors of Inter. I had been unaware of them up to that point since they were in Serie B the previous season. Soon enough I would learn of their history and special place in Serie A and would learn of Baresi and Tassoti who would achieve European glory before the end of the decade.
The talking point of the pre-season was the transfer of Brazilian superstar Zico from Flamengo to Udinese. At the time I was puzzled a player of his stature joining a modest mid-table team, but little did I know of the World of Football Finance. Not realizing that he was paid like a king to join such a club.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 46, January 1984
(Brazilian teammates Zico and Falcao)

Other new foreign players included the Belgians Eric Gerets and Ludo Coeck at AC Milan and Internazionale Milano respectively.
Young Danish Sensation Michael Laudrup was loaned from Juventus to Lazio, although at the time I was unaware of the loan deal.
Former Watford striker Luther Blisset joined newly promoted AC Milan, but he would endure a nightmare of a season.
Ajax Amsterdam and Dutch striker Wim Kieft joined Pisa and would soon learn the difference between the free scoring Dutch League and the defense oriented Serie A.
Scottish striker Joe Jordan was traded from one Italian club to another (AC Milan to Verona).

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 44, November 1983
(Ludo Coeck at Internazionale Milano)

As far as Italian players, World Cup Champion and long serving Internazionale midfielder Gabriele Oriali joined Fiorentina.
Just like the previous season, I continued my routine of getting the local Sports Magazine on a weekly basis and trying to catch as much Television coverage as possible.
Essentially most fans were glued to their Television for a weekly sports program broadcast on Friday nights that along other sports also showed European League highlights and goals.
 Juventus and Roma started the season confidently and topped the League from early on.
Platini was in sensational form and Paolo Rossi seemed to be discovering his scoring touch.
Platini’s excellent calendar year was rewarded with the Ballon d’Or trophy awarded by ‘France Football’ magazine.
Juventus broke free from the chasing pack on Matchday 13 and would hold on to the League lead despite resistance from Roma.
Zico’s transfer to Udinese seemed to have paid dividends and he was scoring many goals in a very defensive League and Udinese owed their relatively high place due to his exploits.
In fact he was the League’s top goalscorer until Platini overtook him in the second half of the season. In the end Platini scored one more goal (20 to 19).

Photo From: Onze, Issue 95, November 1983
(Zico at Udinese)

The surprise for Juventus was the emergence of the young Beniamino Vignola who at first seemed unlikely to break into the first team, but as the season wore on he appeared more and more. His progress earned him a spot on Italy’s 1984 Olympic squad held in Los Angeles that year.
Both Juventus and Roma also reached European Cup Finals, with Juventus topping off their excellent season by triumphing in the Cup Winners Cup vs. Portugal’s Porto, while AS Roma were defeated in a penalty kick shoot-out vs. Liverpool at their home ground of Stadio Olimpico.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 102, June 1984
(Michel Platini, May 16, 1984, Cup Winners Cup, Juventus 2-Porto 1)

In a way this defeat started the decline of that fine Roma squad. In the offseason, Swedish manager Nils Liedholm departed to AC Milan, ending a cycle.
Their only consolation was in winning the Coppa Italia vs. Verona at the end of the season.
At the end of that summer, my family and I left our home for good to live in France for one year (1984/85 season, to be continued…..)

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, June 20-26, 1984
(Juventus squad, 1983/84, Top, left to right: Michel Platini, Gaetano Scirea, Sergio Brio, Stefano Tacconi, Claudio Gentile, Domenico Penzo, Bottom, left to right: Antonio Cabrini, Massimo Bonini, Zbigniew Boniek, Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli)

1 comment:

  1. It is, quite simply, still my favourite soccer season ever.