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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

April 7, 1974: Napoli Lazio 3-3


Chinaglia hat-trick brings precious point and partial revenge


Lazio come from behind three times to possibly dump Napoli out of title race




Source Lazio Wiki

The season so far


Lazio went close to the scudetto the year before and were in the race again this year.

 

The charismatic manager Tommaso Maestrelli was still on the bench. There had been no major changes to the squad. Lazio had received plenty of offers for their best players; Luciano Re Cecconi (Torino), Franco Nanni (Fiorentina and Juventus) and Giorgio Chinaglia (Milan, Juventus, Napoli and Inter). The president Umberto Lenzini, however, managed to resist and keep them all.

 

There had only been some lesser deals: in Fausto Inselvini (Brescia) and defender Sergio Borgo (Pro Patria), out Giacomo La Rosa (Palermo), Andrea Chini (Cavese), Giambattista Moschino (retired).

 

So basically, Lazio were giving the title another go with the same squad. The idea was that they had gone so close the previous season that this year with a little more experience they stood a realistic chance.

 

The pitch was so far proving them right. Lazio had won 15 (including Juventus 3-1), drawn 4 and lost 4. They had already beaten Roma 2-1 twice and only lost to Juventus, Torino, Sampdoria and Inter. Lazio had 32 points and were top of the table with a four-point lead on Juventus and five on Napoli. Giorgio Chinaglia had scored 17 goals. A week earlier the Biancocelesti triumphed in the local derby. The final scudetto rush was on but today Lazio had a tricky game, Napoli away. 

 

There was no love lost between these two clubs, even less after the previous year's game in Naples. On the last day of the season, with Lazio challenging for the Scudetto, Napoli played to the death, celebrating their last gasp win as if they had won the World Cup and basically admitting they had been "incentivised" by the "Old Lady" of Italian football, who won the title using similar methods with their opposition Roma (who probably did not need much encouragement to throw the game anyway).

 

Lazio had started their Coppa Italia campaign in August in the first group phase. The Biancocelesti had won 2 (Varese 2-0 and Novara 6-0, both at home), drawn 1 (the derby 0-0) and lost 1 (Brescia 0-2 away).

 

In the second group phase Lazio were with Juventus, Cesena and Palermo, all to be played home and away. Lazio had so far played Cesena away losing 1-2, drawn 0-0 at home to Juventus, beaten Palermo 1-0, drawn with Cesena 1-1 at home and lost 0-3 away to Juventus. There was the impression Lazio were clearly prioritising the league.

 

Lazio were out of the UEFA Cup in a tie that would have serious repercussions. In the November away leg against Ipswich Town, in the round of 32, Lazio had lost 0-4 in England. In the return match Lazio had gone 2-0 up in the first 25 minutes and were dominating. They had not taken into account a tipsy Dutch referee, a certain Van der Kroft, who ruined the game with some farcical decisions. Lazio ended up 4-2 winners but tempers ran high both on and off the field. There was crowd trouble and brawls between players during but especially after the game. Lazio could expect heavy punishment by the UEFA authorities.

 

Napoli had finished 9th the previous season under Giuseppe Chiapella. They had not won a game since March 11 until Lazio arrived on May 20 when they played out of their skins and celebrated their win with suspicious and exaggerated enthusiasm. Lazio had not forgotten.

 

This season the Partenopei were doing better, under Luís Vinicio. The squad had been changed slightly. The main novelties were forwards Giorgio Braglia (Foggia but owned by Fiorentina) and Sergio Clerici (Fiorentina). Leaving were defenders Angelo Rimbano (Bologna) and Dino Panzanato (Latina- after 197 league games), midfielder Giovanni Improta (Sampdoria-on loan), forwards Giorgio Mariani (Palermo then Inter), and Giuseppe "Oscar" Damiani (Vicenza and last year's match winner).

 

Napoli were currently 3rd, on 29 points, 5 behind Lazio. The Azzurri had won 11, drawn 7 and lost 5 (including Lazio 0-1). They were a powerful force at home having won 10 (including Juventus 2-0) drawn 1 and lost 1(Milan 0-1). In their last game they had drawn 1-1 at Cesena. Their top scorer so far was Clerici with 10 league goals.

 

The Partenopei were already out of the Coppa Italia despite two home wins (Genoa and Bologna), a draw (Reggiana at home) and a defeat (Avellino away).

 

A huge test today for Lazio. A hostile environment and competitive opposition who had title aspirations of their own. Juventus meanwhile played mid-table Cesena away.

 

The match: Sunday, April 7, 1974, Stadio San Paolo, Naples


A lovely spring day on the bay of Naples saw a huge 75,000 crowd for this crunch match.

 

Napoli were missing midfielder Salvatore Esposito while Lazio fortunately had their best possible line-up.

 

The first fifteen minutes of the game were cautious by both sides, studying each other's moves.

 

The game suddenly came alive in the 18th minute. Vincenzo D'Amico fouled Sergio Clerici at the edge of the box for a freekick. Both Andrea Orlandini and Antonio Juliano dummied a shot and Clerici ran up and wrong-footed Felice Pulici. Napoli 1 Lazio 0.

 

Lazio however reacted well and pushed forward forcing a few corners and putting Napoli under pressure. The equaliser came in the 23rd minute. Sergio Petrelli burst down the left and crossed to Giorgio Chinaglia who dived forward and sent a superb acrobatic header past Pietro Carmignani. Napoli 1 Lazio 1.

 

The game now was spectacular and end to end. It was Napoli though who scored again. First a Clerici header forced Pulici to dive and save into corner but from the subsequent cross from the flag by Faustino Cané, Juliano out jumped the defence and headed home. Napoli 2 Lazio 1.

 

Lazio again hit back furiously. In the 30th minute, from a Mario Frustalupi assist, Renzo Garlaschelli's header hit the post with Carmignani beaten.

 

The equaliser was only a question of time and it came in the 41st minute. Luciano Re Cecconi crossed and Garlaschelli jumped up challenging Carmignani, the ball fell to Chinaglia who volleyed it in. Napoli 2 Lazio 2.

 

In the last five minutes Lazio were all over the hosts who even had to resort to ripping Chinaglia's shirt to block the Biancocelesti's enthusiasm. Half time Napoli 2 Lazio 2.

 

An exciting first period with both sides giving as good as they got. A draw however would satisfy Lazio more if it were to stay this way.

 

After five minutes of the second half, the Partenopei were forced to replace an injured Giuseppe Bruscolotti with Vincenzo Montefusco. Three minutes later Napoli were awarded a penalty. It was a generous one, Petrelli slightly pushing Braglia who fell in the area. The Lazio players protested but it had been given. Clerici took it, Pulici went the right way diving to his right and got a touch but it went in anyway. Napoli 3 Lazio 2.

 

For the third time Lazio were behind but again they surged forward.

 

In the 63rd minute they too were given a penalty. Another Frustalupi invention found Franco Nanni who was blocked irregularly by Orlandini and Spartaco Landini. "Long John" stepped up and despite 75,000 whistles hammered a penalty down the middle to pull Lazio level yet again. Napoli 3 Lazio 3. A hat-trick for "Giorgione".

 

Both sides at this point started to tire. Napoli ran out of the energy necessary to go for a winner and Lazio too, content with a point, lacked the strength to go for a full "vendetta". In the 77th minute Fausto Inselvini came on for Nanni but little changed in the last ten minutes. Full time Napoli 3 Lazio 3.

 

A great game with Lazio showing great resolve and determination in coming from behind three times. It was not total revenge on the Neapolitans but it was good enough. Napoli were practically out of the title race.

 

The new table read: Lazio 35, Juventus 32, Napoli 30, Fiorentina 29, Inter 29. Lazio had lost a point on Juventus who had beaten Cesena 2-0 away but there was one less match to play and now it seemed like a two-horse race.

 

Who played for Napoli


Carmignani, Bruscolotti (50' Montefusco), Pogliana, Landini, Ripari, Orlandini, Cané, Juliano, Clerici, Braglia

Substitutes: Da Pozza, Albano

Manager: Luís Vinicio

 

Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Moriggi, Polentes

Manager: Maestrelli

 

Referee: Ciacci


Goals: 18' Clerici, 23' Chinaglia, 25' Juliano, 41' Chinaglia, 53' Clerici (pen), 63' Chinaglia (pen)



What happened next


A week later, on April 14, came a key win in a home game against Verona when, 2-1 down at halftime, Lazio stayed on the pitch waiting eagerly for the second half and ended up 4-2 winners. With five games to go Lazio had a four-point lead on Juventus who drew at home with Cagliari

 

Lazio then earned a good away point against Milan and beat Genoa at home 1-0 with a Garlaschelli winner and had a three-point lead.

 

Despite losing to Torino on May 5 (only team to beat Lazio twice that season) a week later, on May 12, Lazio came into the penultimate game of the season knowing a win would give them the scudetto (Roma had done Lazio a rare favour beating Juve 3-2).

 

The opponents were Foggia, Maestrelli's former team, who were desperately battling against relegation. Fans started arriving at the stadium at 6 o'clock in the morning and the gates were opened at 8.45. The hills above the stadium were also packed as, before the roof was added for the Italia '90 world cup, it was possible to follow the game up on Monte Mario near the "Madonnina" statue on the hill. It was obviously a sell-out but many fans also managed to get in for free, swelling the crowd to explosive levels.

 

It was a tough game, with Lazio playing the last half hour with ten men (Garlaschelli sent off) and Luigi Martini out injured, but Lazio got the all-important goal with a Chinaglia penalty in the 60th minute. Foggia threw everyone forward but a tired and comprehensively tense Lazio managed to resist the Satanelli's assaults. On a glorious 1974 May day in Rome the Biancocelesti founded in 1900 were finally Italian Champions!

 

Maestrelli's crazy gang had done it. The team was divided in clans during the week but was masterfully brought together by the "Maestro" on match days. They played an entertaining brand of football based on the new Dutch philosophy and thoroughly deserved the title. Like Bologna, Fiorentina and Cagliari before them they had broken the monopoly of the big three (Juve, Milan and Inter). Top scorer had been charismatic "Long John" Chinaglia with 34 goals in total (24 in Serie A).

 

Lazio unfortunately would never get to take part in the European Cup a year later. After trouble on the pitch and off it, in the UEFA Cup return match against Ipswich Town, Lazio had been banned from all European competitions for three years, then reduced to one.

 

The scudetto celebrations however went on in Rome and the region for months and were enough to help forget the European disappointment. SS. Lazio were Champions of Italy!

 

Napoli finished 3rd and qualified for the UEFA Cup. In the last 6 games they won 1, drew 3 and lost 2. Top scorer was Sergio Clerici with 16 goals (15 in A).

 

Serie B called for Foggia, Genoa and Verona (for corruption).


Lazio 1973-74

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

30

18

7

5

45

Coppa Italia

10

3

3

4

10

UEFA Cup

4

2

-

2

8

Total

44

23

10

11

63

Top five appearances (Complete Player Statistics)

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

42

30

8

4

42

30

8

4

42

30

8

4

42

30

8

4

40

30

6

4

Top five goalscorers (Complete Player Statistics)

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Giorgio Chinaglia

34

24

4

6

14

10

2

2

Franco Nanni

2

2

-

-

2

2

-

-

Luciano Re Cecconi

2

2

-

-

Let's talk about Umberto Lenzini


Source Lazio Wiki

Umberto Lenzini was born in Walsenburg in Colorado, USA, on July 20, 1912.

 

His family had emigrated to the States from Fiumalbo, a small village in the Apennines near Modena. They owned an emporium near Colorado Springs. When they returned to Italy Umberto was 15 and they invested their savings in land around Rome.

 

Meanwhile Umberto played football. His clubs included Pistoiese, Rondinella (Florence), Fortitudo (Rome) and Juventus Roma. He was also an athlete, winning the 100 metres at the youth games with an excellent time of 11 seconds.

 

After his sporting years he became an entrepreneur, with his brothers Aldo and Angelo, in the construction business starting from his family lands. His company built extensively in the areas of north and west Rome in areas such as Valle Aurelia, Cassia, Pineta Sacchetti and Balduina which are now just off-centre but in the 1960's were mainly uninhabited.

 

In 1964 he became a Counsellor of S.S Lazio and in 1965 following an internal club crisis, vice-commissioner and then, in November, president and main shareholder.

 

His first years in charge were not easy. In 1965-66 Lazio just avoided relegation but the following season were unable to. After a mediocre year in Serie B he then appointed Juan Carlos Lorenzo as manager and Lazio were promoted in 1968-69.

 

In 1969-70 he started to make some of his key signings, Giancarlo Oddi and above all Giuseppe Wilson and Giorgio Chinaglia. Lazio finished a decent 8th.


Source Lazio Wiki

The following year things did not go as well and Lazio were relegated. Lenzini fell out with Lorenzo and the season degenerated. Lorenzo was replaced by Bob Lovati on May 30 and Lazio then won the Alps Cup but Lenzini had already identified the new manager in a man who would change Lazio’s history, Tommaso Maestrelli. Lorenzo backed him even when things initially did not go so well.

 

In 1971-72 Lazio added a full-back Luigi "Gigi" Martini and Lazio ultimately won promotion, playing good football.

 

In 1972-73 more fundamental pieces were added to the jigsaw. A goalkeeper Felice Pulici, a defender Sergio Petrelli (from Roma…)  two midfielders Mario Frustalupi and Luciano Re Cecconi plus a winger Renzo Garlaschelli. The sacrifice was Giuseppe Massa but his substitute Frustalupi (the aptly named Wolfthrasher) would prove to be a winning choice. Lazio went close to winning the title and challenged until the very last game of the season but ended up 3rd. Legend has it that he was advised to "incentivise" opposition Napoli on the last game of the season but refused to due to his sporting values (something a big club from Turin had conveniently temporarily forgotten...). To thank his players anyway Lenzini took them all to the USA at the club's expense.

 

The summer that followed proved to be his masterpiece. He refused all offers from the big northern clubs for his stars and Giorgio Chinaglia in particular. He resisted the high offers and kept his players. Lazio and Lenzini wanted to give it another go.

 

The 1973-74 season was a triumph. On May 12 1974 the Biancocelesti won their first historic Scudetto. "Sor Umberto" had put together a wonderful team. Lenzini himself made it a habit to do a lap of honour around the athletics track to thank the fans for their support and also to lap up some of the glory. He only had one run in with Maestrelli. This was before the return derby when he found the manager's young twins playing in the changing rooms and kicked them out angrily. He later apologised and gave them an expensive children's encyclopaedia.


Source Lazio Wiki

The following year was characterised by the beginning of Maestrelli's health problems. Lazio finished a decent 4th but were unable to play in the European Cup due to the incidents during and after the home game against Ipswich Town in the previous year's UEFA Cup.

 

The 1975- 76 season was a dramatic one. Lazio made the mistake of selling Mario Frustalupi, Giancarlo Oddi and Franco Nanni and in April Chinaglia left to play for New York Cosmos. Maestrelli's illness kept him out until December when returned to the bench, replacing Giulio Corsini. Lazio just managed to avoid relegation in a nail-biting end of season.

 

The 1976-77 season saw the arrival of Luis Vinicio on the bench. Two tragedies hit the Lazio world, the death of Tommaso Maestrelli on December 2 and then the absurd killing of Luciano Re Cecconi by a jeweller who mistook the Lazio player for a robber. On the field however, Lazio did well finishing 5th and qualifying for the UEFA Cup also thanks to the rise of young local striker Bruno Giordano.

 

The following season Lazio struggled and finished 10th and Vinicio was replaced by Bob Lovati in April.

 

The 1979-80 season was a disaster. Lovati stayed on as manager but two events marked Lazio's history and the end of Lenzini's era. First a Lazio fan, Vincenzo Paparelli was killed by a flare fired from the Roma end before a local derby. Then in March four Lazio players were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Totonero match fixing scandal. Lazio avoided relegation on the field but were subsequently punished with relegation. In September 1980 a tired Umberto left the club to his brother Aldo. The Umberto era was over.

 

Aldo Lenzini a year later left the club to Gian Chiaron Casoni and the Lenzini family reign was definitely over.

 

Umberto Lenzini died at home on February 22, 1987, of heart failure. He has since had a park named after him in "his" north-west Rome.

 

Lenzini was a successful entrepreneur, half of north Rome was built by his company. He was a footballer and an athlete but to Laziali he was above all "papà Lenzini". A kind-hearted man who alongside Maestrelli ran Lazio like a family. A team built from the ashes of Serie B and led to the biggest prize of all, the Scudetto. Bad luck and tragedies then prevented him and Lazio building on that success but "Sor Umberto" or “Lo Zio D'America" will always be revered as the president who won the Biancocelesti's first historic title with a crazy gang who played wonderful football.

 

I still remember his laps of honour in the mid 70's. A portly figure who slowly made his way around the track waving at the crowd, a real character.


Sources






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