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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Giancarlo Morrone

Juan Carlos Morrone, better known as Giancarlo and nicknamed “El Gaucho”, is a Lazio legend.

Source Wikipedia

Born a forward but later in his career he moved behind the attackers, Morrone was a Biancoceleste idol for many years and once he quit football he worked with the youth teams for over a decade.


Born in Buenos Aires on February 5, 1941, he started playing football at Platense in the Argentinian Second Division at just 17 years of age. In two years he scored 46 goals and in 1960 signed for Lazio. He arrived when the season had already started and Lazio were bottom. He could not save the Biancocelesti.


In the first year of Serie B, Morrone scored 14 goals (including the first ever Lazio goal in Serie B), but Lazio missed out on promotion due to the infamous ghost goal.


Lazio returned to Serie A in the 1962-63 season with Morrone contributing another 10 league goals.


In 1963-64, manager Juan Carlos Lorenzo decided to transform the centre forward into a number 10, so he could provide assists to forwards Orlando Rozzoni and Mario Mareschi. The intuition did not really work well but not through any fault of El Gaucho. The forwards had simply seen better days.


In 1964 Lazio sold Morrone to Fiorentina. Always short of money, the club took the opportunity to cash in a large amount plus two players (Can Bartu and Giampiero Vitali). Morrone played two years in Florence, met his future wife, won a Coppa Italia, and showed all his quality.


But he missed Lazio. So in 1966-67 he returned and stayed for another 5 seasons. Lazio had mixed fortunes in this period, but Morrone stood out. He played a total of 269 games for Lazio (120 in Serie A, 119 in Serie B, 18 in Coppa Italia, 5 in Mitropa Cup, 2 in the Intercities Fairs Cup, 3 in the Anglo Italian Cup and 2 in the Cup of the Alps) scoring 55 goals (15 in Serie A, 34 in Serie B, 4 in Coppa Italia and 2 in the Cup of the Alps).


In 1971 he signed for Foggia in Serie B and played a couple of years. In 1973 he moved to Avellino but a year later he suffered a very bad injury and was forced to retire.


Once he stopped he immediately started a very successful career as manager of Lazio youth teams.


In 1983 he was called to manage the A team for the last five games of the Serie B championship. Lazio had seen the return of Bruno Giordano and Lionello Manfredonia and under manager Roberto Clagluna had done very well in the first half of the season. But then the Biancocelesti went into a long psychological and technical crisis. They had difficulties in scoring because they were not creating chances. Clagluna could not figure out a solution. In April Lazio dismally drew 0-0 three times and lost at home against Pistoiese and away to Varese.


The match against Reggiana on May 8 was fundamental, Serie A was slipping away. Lazio scored three times with Giordano but were unable to secure victory. Clagluna had to go in order to create a spark that could help Lazio get over the line. Giancarlo Morrone was called in to help create that spark. In the next match however things precipitated even further and Lazio lost 5-1 to Milan. But then two home wins and two away draws gave Lazio the necessary points and it was Serie A again after three years.


There was a change in Presidency and Giorgio Chinaglia purchased the club. He confirmed Morrone as manager. There was great hope, but, with very few exceptions, Lazio were disappointing. In the first 12 games the Biancocelesti won three times (including beating Inter 3-0), drew twice and lost all the remaining matches. Morrone was fired, and replaced by Paolo Carosi, another former Lazio player.


Morrone returned to the Primavera team and won the national title in 1986-87 but with the arrival of the Calleri brothers he decided his time at Lazio was over. From 1987 he managed the Napoli Primavera team for four years and then went on teaching football in a number of Serie C clubs.


El Gaucho was a fantastic football player. Magnificent dribbler, he had a powerful shot and great vision. The chronicles indicate that his best game was against Mantova in 1963 when he was marked by Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, one of the most ruthless defenders the world has ever seen. That match he drove the German nuts, pure magic. He never made it to the Italian National team and that was a pity. As manager he was a great teacher of football, always up to date with what was happening.


Lazio career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

Mitropa Cup

Fairs Cup

Anglo-Italian Cup

Cup of the Alps

1960-61

21 (7)

17 (4)

-

3 (2)

-

-

-

1 (1)

1961-62

35 (15)

-

33 (14)

2 (1)

-

-

-

-

1962-63

33 (10)

-

32 (10)

1

-

-

-

-

1963-64

33 (5)

32 (5)

-

1

-

-

-

-

1966-67

38 (4)

33 (4)

-

2

3

-

-

-

1967-68

29 (4)

-

27 (4)

2

-

-

-

-

1968-69

28 (6)

-

27 (6)

1

-

-

-

-

1969-70

31 (2)

23 (2)

-

3

2

-

3

-

1970-71

21 (2)

15

-

3 (1)

-

2

-

1 (1)

Total

269 (55)

120 (15)

119 (34)

18 (4)

5

2

3

2 (2)

Sources


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