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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

January 7, 1979: Napoli Lazio 1-1 (0-2)

Updated: Jan 7

Firecracker before match produces dull affair


On the two teams entering the pitch two Lazio players were almost hit by a firecracker causing them shock and inability to play but luckily only light injuries. The game became little more than a training exercise as everyone was aware Lazio would later be awarded victory.






Source Wikipedia

The season so far


The previous season Lazio had finished 10th. They had started with Brazilian Luis Vinicio as manager but ended with replacement Roberto "Bob" Lovati.


This season Lovati had been confirmed. Lazio's main change was in goal with Massimo Cacciatori arriving from Sampdoria. Two midfielders were added; Aldo Nicoli from Foggia and Fernando Viola back from a loan period at Bologna. In attack Aldo Cantarutti was signed from Monza.


The goalkeeper making space for Cacciatori was Claudio Garella. He had committed a series of howlers at Lazio and was nicknamed "Garella paperella" (rubber duck - a play on words with Italian papera meaning howler in football lingo). He would however go on to win league titles with Verona and Napoli. Also leaving were midfielder Luigi Boccolini to Brindisi and Ernesto Apuzzo to Foggia while Sergio Clerici had retired.


Lazio drew the first match of the season 2-2 against Juventus and so far, had won 4, drawn 5 and lost 3. The week before travelling down to Naples the Biancocelesti had drawn 2-2 away to Torino and now had 13 points in the table. Their star centre-forward Bruno Giordano was on top form and had already scored 9 goals.


Napoli had qualified for the UEFA Cup the year before with a 6th place finish under young manager Gianni Di Marzio. They had also reached the final of Coppa Italia but lost to Inter. Their star striker had been Giuseppe Savoldi with 16 league goals and other 12 in Coppa Italia.


This year Di Marzio had started the season but was then replaced by Luis Vinicio after only three league games (two wins) and an early UEFA Cup exit (Dinamo Tbilisi).


Napoli also had a new goalkeeper as highly rated Luciano Castellini (known as "il Giaguaro" - the Jaguar) had joined from Torino. Napoli had also brought in defender Attilio Tesser from Treviso, midfielders Domenico Caso (later to play for Lazio) from Fiorentina and Roberto Filippi from L.R Vicenza.


Leaving Napoli after 22 years and 394 league games was club legend Antonio Juliano who joined Bologna. In attack Luciano Chiarugi had signed for Sampdoria.


So far this season Napoli had won 3, drawn 7 and lost 2 giving them 13 points (same as Lazio). Savoldi was still scoring and was on 6 goals.


Today's match was seen as a crunch match for the UEFA qualification positions.


The match: Sunday, January 7, 1979, Stadio San Paolo, Naples


It was a cold, sunny day in Naples and 60,000 turned up hoping for an exciting game. They would be disappointed but through no fault of the 22 players on the field.


The main event of the day happened before the 90 minutes even took place. The two teams were coming up the steps leading to the pitch from the changing rooms when an enormous bang was heard. Lazio were wearing uncharacteristic red shirts to avoid TV colour clashes with Napoli and two of these were seen to keel over. Two Lazio players had collapsed and were rushed to hospital.


It turned out a large firecracker had been thrown from the Napoli fans' sector and exploded dangerously near Lazio’s Lionello Manfredonia and Dario Pighin. The two players suffered a state of shock, confusion and temporary deafness and were taken to hospital for further checks.


The referee ordered the two teams back to the changing rooms and the match kick-off was put back by 30 minutes. This was to enable Lazio to call two replacements from the grandstand (they were actually summoned by the stadium tannoy) to make up the numbers (14 at the time). Lazio replaced the two hospitalized players with the young Roman defender Mauro Tassotti and Paolo Ammoniaci.


The game eventually got under way but would be more of a training exercise than a competitive Serie A game. Both teams knew perfectly well the two points would be awarded to Lazio due to the Napoli fans' violent conduct.


The game itself was a bland affair. Napoli lacked motivation and Lazio were more worried about their team mates' well-being. The outcome was a drab draw. Lazio went 1-0 up after 13 minutes with Aldo Nicoli teed up in the area by Giordano, he went past a defender and put a close range left foot in the top hand corner beating Castellini. Napoli equalised four minutes later when Savoldi, lurking in front of goal, deflected a teammate's shot in a crowded area. Not much else worthy of note happened for the rest of the match.


A draw of little sporting value. The two Lazio players would suffer no serious consequences and were able to travel back to Rome that evening.


Three days later as predicted the Italian Federation sports judicial authorities awarded Lazio a 2-0 victory and banned Napoli from playing at home for the next two matches.


Who played for Napoli


Castellini, Bruscolotti (68' Tesser), Valente, Catellani, Ferrario, Pin, C.Pellegrini, Vinazzani, Savoldi (I), Majo, Filippi

Substitutes: Fiore, Capone

Manager: Vinicio


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Fantini, Cantarutti

Manager: Lovati


Referee: Lapi


Goals: 13' Nicoli, 17' Savoldi




What happened next


Lazio finished in 8th position on 29 points, missing out on a European UEFA participation by 3 points. Lazio won 9, drew 11 and lost 10.


A week later Lazio triumphed in the derby against Roma. After being 1-0 down at half time (Cordova o.g ), Lazio equalised (De Sisti o.g) in the 56th and clinched the derby with a Nicoli 88th minute winner. On a personal note, that was the first time I saw Lazio defeat our eternal rivals live at the stadium, with the double satisfaction at the final whistle of seeing Roma supporters burning the seats in their own end (they were still made of wood in those days… the seats, that is). Another funny episode was Ammoniaci being sent off in the 89th minute while he was coming onto the field, his 'game' lasted literally two seconds.


The season also had other satisfactions. Promising young full back Mauro Tassotti came up from the youth team and made 14 league appearances plus one in the Coppa Italia. He would later go on to have an excellent career but unfortunately with A.C Milan.


Lazio's centre-forward Bruno Giordano was Serie A top scorer with 19 goals (plus 2 in Coppa Italia).


Napoli finished 6th. A week later they drew 0-0 away at Catanzaro and then ended up qualifying for the UEFA Cup on 32 points after 9 wins (including a revenge 2-1 against Lazio), 14 draws and 7 defeats. Their top scorer was Beppe Savoldi with 11 goals (9 in Serie A).


The scudetto was won by Milan ahead of a surprising Perugia while the unlucky three to fall were Verona, Atalanta and Vicenza.


Lazio 1978-79

Competition

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goals scored

Serie A

30

9

11

10

35

Coppa Italia

6

2

4

-

3

Total

36

11

15

10

38

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Cacciatori

36

30

6

Giordano

36

30

6

Cordova

34

28

6

Manfredonia

34

28

6

Wilson

33

29

4

Top goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Giordano

21

19

2

5

5

-

Wilson

2

2

-

D'Amico

2

2

-


Let's talk about Mauro Tassotti



Mauro Tassotti on the right. Source Wikipedia

Mauro Tassotti was born in Rome, on January 19, 1960.


He spent his whole youth career at Lazio and joined the first team in the 1977-78 season but without getting any games.


His debut came on November 5, 1978 in an away game at Ascoli. He showed promise and at 18 years old made 14 league appearances that season plus 1 in Coppa Italia.


It was in the 1978-79 season that Tassotti became first choice full-back at Lazio. He played 27 league games and 5 in Coppa Italia. He had a good season as a strong, tenacious man to man marker. He played a total of 47 appearances for Lazio, 41 in Serie A.


In July 1980 Tassotti signed for Milan. In his first season Milan were in Serie B due to the "Calcio Scommesse" (betting scandal), Tassotti played 33 games and the Rossoneri won promotion.


Over the next 15 seasons (one more in serie B, 1982-83) Tassotti would be the regular first choice right full-back, with his number 2 shirt. He played under Liedholm, Sacchi and Capello and won everything there was to win at club level. He formed one of the greatest defensive line-ups of all time alongside Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro "Billy" Costacurta.


He played a total of 363 games for Milan in Serie A (8 goals), 65 in Serie B, 75 in Coppa Italia (1 goal), 44 in Champions League (one goal), 13 in the UEFA Cup, 5 in Mitropa Cup, 5 in Super Coppa, 4 in UEFA Super Cup, 4 in Intercontinental Cup and 2 in the Torneo Estivo of 1986. A grand total of 583 appearances for the Rossoneri.


At A.C Milan he won 5 scudetti, 3 Champions Leagues (one as captain), 3 UEFA Super Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 4 Italian Supercoppa's and 2 Serie B championships.


At International level he did not make his debut until the age of 32, under former Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi. He participated in the 1994 World Cup in the United States but was banned for 8 games after the quarter-final, when he elbowed and broke Luis Enrique of Spain's nose. His instinctive gesture was not seen by the referee but pre-VAR it was reviewed by FIFA officials after the game. Tassotti never played internationally again. He had made 7 appearances for Italy adding to his 10 caps for the Under 21's.


After retiring in 1997 he undertook a coaching career. He started in the Milan youth sector until 2001. He remained for the next 19 years in various positions; caretaker coach with Cesare Maldini (2001) and then as assistant manager (2001-2015) with Fatih Terim, Carlo Ancelotti, Leonardo, Massimiliano Allegri, Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi. With Allegri (a scudetto) and in particular with Carlo Ancelotti he would win more silverware (including a scudetto and 2 Champions Leagues). He then also worked as a talent scout for a year (2015-16) before terminating his 36- year career with the club.


In 2016 he became assistant coach for the Ukraine national team under another Milan legend, Andriy Shevchenko. He stayed for 5 years and in 2021 was assistant coach at Genoa in Serie A.


Tassotti at Lazio was a hard and physical right full-back ideal for man to man marking. At Milan initially under the expert guidance of Swede Nils Liedholm he refined his skills and was even compared to Djalma Santos (legendary classy Brazilian full-back). With Arrigo Sacchi he adapted and flourished with the zonal marking system. Tassotti kept his tenacious tackling and defensive abilities but combined with positional sense and tactical awareness made him one of the best defenders of his generation. His physical strength in particular enabled him to cover ground quickly, with Milan playing a high defensive line and the offside trap. He developed into a modern full-back capable of defending and attacking. He was able to attack, dribble and provide accurate crosses and assists from the right wing.


He became known as "The Professor" for his composure and consistency. Another nickname was "Il Tasso" (The badger). He certainly had an incredibly successful club career.


Lazio formed and groomed Tassotti and Lazio fans took pride in his achievements. He was always considered a Lazio boy who had gone on to greater things but remained the Lazio fan from San Basilio, a peripheral and difficult area of Rome.


Appearances for Lazio

Season

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

1978-79

15

14

1

1979-80

32

27

5

Total

47

41

6

Sources:



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