On the evening of January 18, 1977, three young men enter a jewelry district Fleming in Rome. I am a perfumer of the area, George Fraticcioli, and players of Lazio, Pietro Ghedin and Luciano Re Cecconi. As things go, nobody knows. There are those who say that Re Cecconi, the blond midfielder to score, lift the lapel of the coat and yells “everyone stop, this is a robbery”. There are those who say that the owner of the jewelry, coming from different robberies, it alarms without a real reason and start the shot. There are those who say that the bullet starts to mistake.
The fact is that the gun Bruno Tabocchini shoot. The owner hits it in the chest Re Cecconi. The legend continues: the last words of the 29-year-old would be “it was all a joke.” As things have gone, no one knows still today. The jeweler was acquitted, on the story have been written, rivers of words and different books. What is certain is that, on the evening of 18 January 1977, carried in great haste but with no luck at the Hospital San Giacomo, Luciano Re Cecconi died. He has 28 years old, leaves his wife and two children, three years after winning the first scudetto of Lazio. And this is the crazy ending to the band Maestrelli, the team’s most crazy in the history of Italian football.
A few months before Re Cecconi, a cancer to the liver is brought via Tommaso Maestrelli. To his funeral back in Italy, Giorgio Chinaglia, another symbol of that miracle to the colors biancocelesti, who in the spring of ’76 is “escaped” to the United States. Long John, a pioneer of football in a Country that calls it soccer , and still continues to practice it unwillingly, it is not escaped from the law, as the will in later years. You ran away from “his” Lazio, went on to play with Pelé. Falls for the final farewell to It, and the coach and perhaps also the spiritual father of a group of players out of the ordinary.
A good Italian. Class of ’22, pisano birth, but the wanderer for family needs, and finally the apulian by adoption, the chronicles of the time tell It, even before that as a coach, as a mild man, able to mend any tear, to unite around itself the players, fans and journalists. To calm the spirits. He had a great work to do, because the players of Lazio of ’74 are not limited to the tantrums. You hate it.
Chronicles a football that we have seen and experienced. To tell you about it, let us entrust ourselves to the words and stories of the time. The newspapers of the time recount that in the locker room to turn in guns. Lazio, It is almost explicitly considered as a team fascist, or, at least, of the extreme right. Both exaggerations: as to the guns, all the stakeholders have always denied. On the political connotation, the title plays first and foremost as an offense at the same Maestrelli, who during the Second World War was a partisan.
Of course, the Italian side there are those who vote for the MSI. But there are also the christian democrats, as well as disinterested. Here is, maybe not the communists, even though the coach is said to have sympathies on the left. It is not a team fascist, probably not even a squad of armed. It is a team that beats you up, yes. That knock at the door, the dressing room is divided into two factions. If the word hate sounds excessive, the rivalry is on, to say the least. A group against the other. On the one hand, Chinaglia, Wilson, Pulici, Oddi, Facco. On the other: Re Cecconi, Martini, Frustalupi, Garlaschelli, Nanni. The locker room is a misnomer: they have two, because from Monday to Saturday, you just don’t want to see.
How was the band. Lazio in 1974, goes on to win the championship is a team recently built recently. It becomes a coach in 1971, when the capitoline are just back from an appalling season: fifteenth in the Series, relegated to Serie B. Is leading young and charismatic, but the character fumantino: Chinaglia and Wilson are there, from ’69, to take two examples. Long John does not want to go for a cadetteria, the new coach convinces him to stay, he began the patient work of weaving. He starts to build a rose as you are not more magazine. Laying the foundation: from the Livorno comes back the Martini, from the Massese is part of the young Oddi, from the Spring enters the plant stable in the First Team, and a talented Vincenzo D’amico. Lazio have not won the Serie B arrives second, but that was enough. The summer of 1972 is one in which bases you add something more: the shot is just the unfortunate Re Cecconi, a member from Foggia, where he already trained It. The president of the pugliesi signed for the sale, it is said, from a hospital bed. From Inter here are Frustalupi, from Como, there is Garlaschelli, Pulici comes from Novara. Chinaglia is again on the verge of starting, this time not for their decision: the company has almost sold to Juventus. The affected person does not take it well, replied that no, in Turin, there it goes. Still, the chronicles of the time narrate that hang, literally, the president Lenzini at the door. Anecdotes exaggerated, or maybe not. The bulk of the band, It is the format: we will see the beautiful.
Lazio is the real surprise of the Series, 1972/1973. Lenzini and his technician they think they have built a team able to survive peacefully, and instead find themselves in the hands of a custom-built car that close to third place, within two points of Juve before. Not only that: it qualification in the Uefa Cup and beat Roma in both the derby in Rome is not a small thing. Crazy stuff. If it were not that crazy play in the league. And the next year they do even better. Little or nothing on the market, so we understood that the qualities are there.
Get the scudetto. Training well-defined: Pulici in the door, in defense Wilson free and Oddi stopper, with Petrelli and Martini full-backs. In midfield Nanni, Frustalupi and Re Cecconi. In the attack Garlaschelli and Friend support Chinaglia. The latter is the bomber of the team: closes the Series In ’73/74 with 24 goals scored, an enormous number for the time. From campione d’italia. Why yes, this is the miracle of most evil in the history of Italian football: Lazio to improve in the third place, he won the Italian championship, with two points of advantage over the usual Juventus. It is a triumph vichiano: arrives, for the courses and the appeals of the story, against Foggia. At the Olympic stadium, the match ends 1-0, marking the inevitable Chinaglia missed a penalty. The Old Lady can no longer recover. And can not do it because in the previous day, ironically, he lost against Rome: Lazio you put the Italian flag on the chest, for the first time in its history. And everyone is wondering how it was possible.
The diversity of the band. Scudetto in two seasons, and unrepeatable, and that, in fact, will be followed by other disappointing, and the league is baffled by a group that has no sense. It is different from any other training and that you will see. The players almost do not speak in the week, as we have said, you are changing two changing rooms different. From Monday to Saturday you breathe in the air heavy, but on Sunday it runs all in the same direction, to win together. And a knock at the door, certain that she beats. What is the most challenging, from a physical point of view, they are just friendlies midweek, the classic small matches of training. Are pitched battles, the two clans will face, and you have made no holds barred. The worst enemy of a player of Lazio is another player of Lazio. Fear that you may give him “normal” opponents of Sunday?
”It is a war!” The soft left wing are examples also beyond the Alps. In November 1973, the Lazio to play in the Uefa Cup, the Olympic games, against Ipswich Town Bobby Robson, sir. Chinaglia and his companions must replace the 4-0 after the first leg, they try with all their might, but slamming (also) against an arbitration not judged on the height. And in the second time it happens with everything: kicking, shoving, in the field from the stands fly anything. At the final whistle, things get worse. The biancocelesti are chasing the referee and opponents: the goalkeeper of the british, Best, remedies of a suspected bill of the tibia. Robson says: “it is Not football, this is war.” Deleted, Lazio is fined heavily and remains a year away from the european cups: he will have to give it up, you guessed, the european Champions Cup. And the coach of Ipswich do not know how much has it right: play against Lazio is like going to war. But play inside even more. The secret to why all of this is possible has a name and a surname.
Tommaso Maestrelli. Riavvolgiamo the tape, we are at the end of our story. A gentle man driving a blood group. We used verbs that are clear: to weave, sew, build. Is what the coach does, all the time in which guide the capitoline. He guessed that the chances of success are there, on the line of the razor. That balance is precarious, but as long as it holds, there are hopes. And that the solution is not to turn off their minds, but keep them alive and placarli only when it becomes necessary. Is a second father to his players, it is not anyone’s side, and at the same time is on the side of all. To arbitrate these small matches he thinks, is the only one who can keep a team attached with adhesive tape. Invents a ritual: when there is a problem, you go to dinner at his house. Every day there is a different player with each person, It shall adopt its strategy. Chinaglia is the most difficult to tame, but it is also what tightens the relationship with the technical: one day yes and the other no, they have dinner together. It becomes a home. The striker wants to decide, do the training, take the reins. Maestrelli let him talk, then she chooses him. It is a recipe. The band is a family, however dysfunctional. Reached the shield, it begins to flake. And here we come to the beginning, riannodiamo the thread, because by the tragedy we started and with that closes this story. At halfway through the season 1974-1975, It must stop, he discovered he had cancer of the liver. Remains close to the team, in the most difficult moment of the next season will also return on the bench, but the spell is broken. After the ’75-76 Chinaglia go to the Usa, at the end of 1976, It dies. Then the drama of Re Cecconi. The other fellow go ahead, some of the write important pages of our football. The real magic is in two years: beautiful, rambunctious, unforgettable. Followed by so much pain. But there could be a conclusion to normal, for the team crazy in Italy.