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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

June 21, 1987: Lazio Vicenza 1-0

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Miracles can happen


In a match that looked jinxed, Fiorini manages to score with 7 minutes to go and throws a lifeline to Lazio who now will have to face Taranto and Campobasso in a play off to avoid relegation



Official SS Lazio photo

The season so far


There was new ownership. The Calleri brothers and Renato Bocchi had taken over from the disastrous Giorgio Chinaglia Presidency and possibly even worse Franco Chimenti brief regency, so everything was new. New manager, Eugenio Fascetti, new Sports Director, Franco Regalia, new players. There were many farewells and in particular the Biancocelesti said goodbye to Vincenzo D’Amico (Ternana), Arcadio Spinozzi (Reggina) and Oliviero Garlini who was a necessary sacrifice and sold to Inter.


The most important new players were Antonio Acerbis (Pescara), Angelo Gregucci and Giancarlo Camolese (Alessandria), Gabriele Pin (Juventus) plus Giuliano Terraneo (Milan).


There was a certain degree of optimism but any hope of promotion was shattered by the summer events.


On May 2, 1986, Armando Carbone, right hand man of Italo Allodi was arrested. Allodi was a well-known figure in Italian football and worked for a number of clubs, including Juventus and Inter. In 1986 he was working for Napoli. Carbone told the magistrates that there was a match fixing association with clubs at all levels involved. Numerous clubs were investigated: Bari, Napoli and Udinese in Serie A, many more in Serie B and C. Plus Lazio.


Why were Lazio involved? Carbone was a good friend of Claudio Vinazzani, a Lazio player. Vinazzani had played for Napoli for seven years before joining Lazio in 1983. He did like to bet but never on matches where he played.


In Italy one could not legally bet on the result of a single game or on the scores of multiple games. There was just the Totocalcio, where one had to guess the result of 13 games. There was however an illegal betting system called Totonero run by illegal bookmakers similar to how legal bets were organised in the UK. Lazio had already been involved in the 1980 scandal and, despite a total lack of proof or wrongdoing by the club itself, since four players had been involved, Lazio were relegated to Serie B.


If there was basically nothing in 1980, in this case there was even less. There was a telephone conversation between Carbone and Vinazzani where the former asked whether the Lazio player was interested in “buying” a Lazio win against Palermo. Vinazzani’s answer was vague and nothing happened. The vagueness in the response was an indication of Lazio’s guilt, according to the prosecution. For this Lazio were sentenced to relegation to Serie C on August 5.


A difficult summer for the Lazio fans, but a very difficult summer for the new owners, Calleri and Bocchi. “If Lazio go down to Serie C, what are we going to do?” they must have asked themselves. It would have been the end of Lazio; the new owners would probably have backed out. Lazio fans mobilised, there were demonstrations and protests. It was simply not possible to relegate Lazio for nothing.


The appeal started on August 21 with many Lazio fans outside the Hilton hotel in Rome waiting to see what would happen. Carboni should have testified but the court refused to have him present. The decision to be made therefore had to be based on the material provided in the first court case. Hence, the written declaration from Carboni saying that Lazio had nothing to do with the match fixing and that he never fixed a match for the Biancocelesti could not be used.


On August 27, Lazio had to play Napoli at the Olimpico for the Coppa Italia. Minutes before the match, the Italian State Television, RAI, announced that the sentence had been confirmed. An overzealous member of the court had leaked the news. This ultimately saved Lazio. The court could not confirm the previous sentence otherwise it would have lost face. In the end Lazio stayed in Serie B but with a docking of nine points. This was a very heavy burden with only two points for a victory, but it at least meant that the new owners could continue.


Fascetti told the players: “This is the situation. You can leave, and it would be perfectly normal if you did, or stay and fight. Decide”. All the players stayed.


The start of the season was terrible. Lazio drew the first game away at Parma but lost a home to Messina. This basically meant that the burden was as if it was -11.


After the catastrophic beginning Lazio started to win and reduce the handicap. After 8 games the Biancocelesti finally had a +1 in the table and were only two points from safety. The relegation zone was left in the 15th match with an away win at Cagliari. Lazio played very well and demonstrated to be far better than the others in Serie B. At the end of the first half of the season they were 16th, three points above relegation zone.


Towards May however they started to tire. Being under constant pressure was taking its toll. Four losses, two draws and just one win meant that with one match to go Cagliari were already in Serie C, Lazio and Taranto were on 31 points, Campobasso, Sambenedettese, Vicenza and Catania on 32. Last games of the season Bari-Sambenedettese, Messina-Campobasso, Taranto-Genoa, Cesena-Catania, Lazio-Vicenza.


Even a win may not be enough.


The match: Sunday, June 21, 1987, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Official SS Lazio photo

The game meant life or death for Lazio and the fans filled the Stadio Olimpico a long time before the beginning. When the players came out two hours before the start, they could not believe their eyes. The Olimpico was packed. Everybody that could brought with them a flag or a scarf and the Stadium was all white and light blue.


In the first half Lazio went forward head down and Vicenza had difficulty in coming out of their half. Domenico Caso had a chance before Ennio Dal Bianco started his personal match. The Vicenza goalkeeper was in a state of grace. There was a free kick for Lazio, Gabriele Podavini gave the ball a big whack but Dal Bianco parried. Shortly after, in the 8th minute, Giuliano Fiorini’s shot went just out.


Dal Bianco saved again on a Paolo Mandelli shot. In the subsequent corner this time it was Angelo Gregucci with a header but the Vicenza goalkeeper was miraculous. Caso from the left crossed the ball into the box and Giorgio Magnocavallo headed the ball towards the goal, again saved by Dal Bianco. A Podavini shot from 25 metres saw the goalkeeper again parry into corner.


The game looked jinxed. Lazio put in everything they had in the first half but were extremely unlucky. Vicenza did what they could and played as dirty as possible.


News from the other games was not good. Sambenedettese were winning, Messina-Campobasso was still goalless, Taranto were ahead, Catania were losing. As a consequence, Catania had 31 points, Lazio were on 32, Taranto, Campobasso and Vicenza 33, Sambenedettese 34. If it finished like this, Lazio and Catania would go down to Serie C and there would be a playoff

between Taranto, Campobasso and Vicenza to determine the final team to go down.


In the interval Lazio substituted Magnocavallo with Fabio Poli and early in second half Vincenzo Esposito came on for Gabriele Pin. Lazio continued to attack. Podavini crossed into the box for a Mandelli header, another miracle from Dal Bianco who repeated himself shortly afterwards on another Podavini shot.


In the 67th minute umpteenth Vicenza foul and Danio Montani was sent off for a second yellow card.


In the 79th minute, Podavini on the right crossed, Mandelli headed towards the goal but it was well wide, Antonio Acerbis from the left crossed in again low, the Vicenza defence cleared but ball to Esposito, his shot was blocked by the defence, setting up another possible shot. Mandelli tried again, too high.


In the 83rd minute, Acerbis with a throw-in, ball to Poli back to Acerbis, cross into the box cleared by the defence. Esposito to Podavini on the right who tried the 200th shot of the day. He miskicked it and it became a low cross. Fiorini got the ball, turned round and shot. Goallllllllllll!!!!!!!!


Delirium!!! Tears of relief, people literally felt ill and collapsed. Medics were called. Legend has it that people on the nearby bridge over the Tiber felt the earth tremble. Neutral commentators suddenly became hardcore fans and burst into tears. Vicenza did not have anything left and the game finished 1-0 for Lazio.


Final verdict: Vicenza, Catania and Cagliari in Serie C, Lazio, Campobasso and Taranto to the playoff. It was not over yet.


Who played for Lazio


Terraneo, Filisetti, Acerbis, Podavini, Gregucci, Camolese, Mandelli, Caso, Magnocavallo (46’ Poli), Pin (51’ Esposito), Fiorini.

Substitutes: Ielpo, Piscedda, Rizzolo

Manager: Fascetti


Who played for Vicenza


Dal Bianco, Zoppellaro, Montani, Zanotto, Bertozzi, Mazzeni, Savino, Fortunato, Lucchetti, Nicolini, Rondon (63' Carotti).

Substitutes: Mattiazzo, De Biasi, Pallavicini.

Manager: Magni.


Referee: D’Elia


Goal: 83’ Fiorini



What happened next


Lazio went on to the playoff in Naples in July. In the first match a blatantly off-side goal gave Taranto an undeserved win. Lazio had had their chances in the first half and hit a post with Luca Brunetti in the second.


Then Taranto and Campobasso drew the second game. So, coming into the final match, Lazio had to win to stay in Serie B. A goal by Poli in the 53rd minute allowed Lazio, the players and the fans to come out of this long nightmare. The -9 team would all be heroes and remembered forever.


Lazio 1986-87

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie B

38

14

14

10

35

Serie B Play Outs

2

1

-

1

1

Coppa Italia

7

2

3

2

8

Total

47

17

17

13

44

Top Five Appearances

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Caso

47

38

2

7

Pin

45

38

2

5

Terraneo

45

38

2

5

Acerbis

44

37

2

5

Podavini

40

33

1

6

Top Five goal scorers

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Fiorini

9

7

-

2

Mandelli

6

6

-

-

Poli

6

4

1

-

Podavini

5

3

-

2

Marino

3

3

-

-

Acerbis

3

2

-

1

Caso

3

3

-

-

Let's talk about Giuliano Fiorini


Official SS Lazio photo

Giuliano Fiorini was the last of his kind. A classic 1970s centre forward. He never scored an enormous number of goals but was a team player, one of those forwards who would open up spaces for others. He was big, very vocal with everybody, but much loved by fans and teammates.


Fiorini was born in Modena on January 21 1958. He debuted in Serie A in February 1975 with an assist that allowed Beppe Savoldi to score the winning goal against Fiorentina. For the next two seasons he was sent on loan first to Rimini (with whom he won the Serie C championship) and then Brescia in Serie B. After another year at Bologna in which he did not play much, he played a year at Foggia and another one at Piacenza in Serie C1. Here he scored 21 goals, top goal scorer of the season, and Bologna decided to bring him home.


He stayed for another two years at Bologna, in the first they managed to avoid relegation but not in the second. In 1982-83 he signed for Genoa. After a first relatively unsuccessful year, he was loaned to Sambenedettese in Serie B and then went back to Liguria for another year.


In 1985 he signed for Lazio. It was a rather disastrous year for Lazio. They were one of the favourites to return to Serie A but the club’s financial problems marred the spirit of the team that almost risked relegation. Fiorini had an injury that left him out of the squad for a while.


With the sale of Oliviero Garlini, Fiorini was Lazio’s centre-forward for the 1986-87 season. This was the dramatic -9 season as Lazio started with a nine-point docking following the 1986 match fixing scandal. Fiorini played 30 league games and scored 7 goals, the last one allowed Lazio to go to the play off and avoid Serie C. Relegation would have certainly meant the end of the club.


His goal, his run under the Curva Nord, his tears. All of this made him a legendary, almost mythical, player at Lazio. One to be remembered forever. He played 61 games for Lazio, 48 in Serie B (10 goals), two in the play offs and 11 in Coppa Italia (5 goals).


Official SS Lazio photo

In the summer of 1987 he signed for Venezia Mestre, the new team formed by the merger between Venezia and Mestre, in Serie C2 and with his ten goals contributed to the promotion. His last two years of active football were both in Serie C1 with Siena and Ternana.


After a brief experience as manager at L’Aquila, he became a Sports Director at Spezia and Massese as well as Director for Vasto.


He opened a bar in Bologna and would sit there in the afternoons, often joined by Beppe Signori who would pop in for a chat and a coffee.


On August 5 2005, the Lazio fans woke up to the news that Giuliano Fiorini had died of cancer. A terrible day for everybody.


Giuliano Fiorini will never be forgotten and will live forever in the hearts of all Lazio fans.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie B

Serie B Playouts

Coppa Italia

1985-86

23 (5)

18 (3)

-

5 (2)

1986-87

38 (9)

30 (7)

2

6 (2)

Total

61 (14)

48 (10)

2

11 (4)

Sources


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