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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Joao Fantoni

Updated: May 20

João Fantoni was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on the 24th July, 1905. In Brazil he was known as Ninão, João or Juan.

Source Lazio Wiki

At 18 he made his debut for Palestra Italia, in Brazil. He played for the team, which would later be known as Cruzeiro, for seven years (1923-1930). He scored 167 goals in 127 games and is their 5th top scorer in history. He has their highest goal per game ratio with 1.31 goals per match. He also holds the record of goals scored in a single match, ten against Alves Nogueira (a record shared with Dadà Maravilha). At Palestra Italia he won 3 Campeonato Mineiro (1928,29, 30).

In 1930 he moved to Europe. He was signed by Lazio, along with his cousin Octavio (Fantoni II). A year later they would be joined by many more Brazilians to make up the team known as Brasilazio. In Rome his name was Italianized into Giovanni.

In his first season at Lazio he played 10 times and scored 6 goals. In the following season 1931-1932 he made 31 appearances and scored 10 goals (4 against Modena in the last game of the season). The next season was similar with 30 appearances and again 10 goals. In 1933-1934 he played less, 20 matches with 4 goals. The 1934-1935 season was his last and he played 22 times with 8 goals. In Italy he didn't replicate his phenomenal Brazilian scoring rate, but with Italian defences and style of play that was to be expected. He was nonetheless a success in Rome playing 113 games and scoring 38 goals.

His five years in Rome will always be engraved in his family history as his first child was born in the eternal city and was named Romano Benito. The latter name was apparently in gratitude to Mussolini who had promised to cover all the hospital costs if Fantoni I scored in the derby (he did score, even if Lazio lost 3-1).

In 1935 Fantoni I returned to Brazil to Palestra Italia. He would play for three more years although only making 15 appearances, but still getting 11 goals. In 1936 Palestra Italia won the Campeonato Paulista.

He retired in 1938 with a phenomenal goalscoring rate, 205 in 240 professional matches.

After retiring he had experiences as sports director and manager, obviously with his beloved Palestra Italia/ Cruzeiro. As manager he won the campeonato Mineiro in 1943.

At Lazio he will be remembered as one of the more successful Brazilian players, as his 38 goals will always testify. His connection with the Biancazzurri continued and in 1947 he accompanied his brother Orlando (Fantoni IV) and fellow Brazilian Arsenio Robespierri to sign for Lazio. The dynasty almost continued when in 1955 he brought his son Fernando to Lazio. He stayed on trial for a few months even playing a few friendlies. But it was not to be, maybe he didn't have his father's goal scoring instinct. The most successful Fantoni at Lazio would remain Giovanni/Ninão/ João/ Juan, Fantoni I.

Appearances and goals for Lazio


Appearances Serie A

Goals Serie A





















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