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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Jozsef Violak

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Jozsef Violak, known in Italy as Giuseppe Viola, was manager for Lazio from 1935 to 1939, reaching a second place in the 1936-37 season.


Jozsef Violak is first from the right Standing. Source Wikipedia

He was born in Komárom, Hungary, on June 10 1896. He was an excellent midfielder and his footballing career started with Torekves SE, from Budapest where he played from 1916 to 1920. He then spent a year in Germany with Berliner SV 1892 before moving to Italy. His first Italian club was Spezia where he was player-manager. They came 8th and 11th in Group B of the Italian first division Northern League. He then was signed by Juventus, again as player-manager where he stayed until 1928 winning a scudetto in 1926 and coming third in the other two seasons. He left for Ambrosiana Inter in 1928 but returned back to Juve the following season for the first Serie A tournament. Juventus came third. His last two years of active football were with Atalanta, always as player-manager in Serie B.


Once he stopped playing he continued as manager and was head coach for AC Milan in 1933-34. As a consequence he was the first person to manage the three greats of Italian football. In 1934-35 he was head coach of Vicenza in Serie B but they were relegated. He continued for the following season too and came second in Group A but just missed out on promotion.


In 1935-36 he was called to manage Lazio for the last three games of the season. He substituted Walter Alt who had resigned and moved to Vicenza.


His masterpiece was the 1936-37 season. Lazio started really well and at the end of the first part of the campionato were first with a two-point lead over Bologna. They had beaten Juventus and Milan and drawn away against Inter and Bologna. They lost the lead immediately after and dropped down to fifth place due to a number of injuries. But they recovered in the last games and managed to arrive second behind the mighty Bologna. A fantastic season for the Biancocelesti, the best in their history so far and until the victorious 1973-74 scudetto. The star of the team was obviously Silvio Piola, the legendary centre forward, who was Serie A top scorer with 21 goals. Lazio also qualified for the Central European International Cup, which at the time was a type of Champions League.


The latter was a tournament that was initially devised in the 1920s with two teams from Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia competing in a knock out competition. The first tournament took place in 1927. In 1929 Italian teams took the place of the Yugoslav ones.


In the first round Lazio played against Hungaria, drawing the first leg away 1-1 (Piola) and winning 3-2 in the return match thanks to a Piola brace and a goal by Giovanni Costa. In the quarter finals the Biancocelesti played against Grasshoppers. They won the first leg 6-1 (Piola hat trick, Umberto Busani double and Libero Marchini) so the return game in Switzerland became irrelevant (Lazio lost 3-2 with goals from Piola and Marchini). The Biancocelesti did not have to play the semi-final since Genoa and Admira had been disqualified.


In the final Lazio had to face the formidable Ferencváros team. They lost the first leg 4 -2 (Busani, Piola) but the Hungarians were awarded a ridiculous penalty. In the return match in Rome at the end of the first half Lazio were winning 4-3, in the second half Piola missed a penalty and then Ferencváros scored twice to win the cup.


In 1937-38 things did not go as well as the previous year. Lazio were still very strong in attack but not as good in defence. They were the third best attacking team and had some good wins against strong teams, but lost with weaker clubs. The inconsistency meant that they could not go further than an 8 place.


In 1938 the Biancocelesti immediately lost Giovanni Costa who broke his leg and Piola also had a number of injuries. After 19 games Violak left to become technical Director of Milan and he was substituted by the duo Alfredo DI Franco-Luigi Allemandi. Lazio arrived ninth.


In 1939 he became Livorno’s manager substituting Pietro Piselli. Livorno got promoted to Serie A and managed to stay there also in the following season, despite a collapse in the second half of the season after a good start. After World War 2 he was head coach at Genoa from December to March in the 1945-46 season and, once he was fired, managed Spal in Serie C and winning promotion to Serie B. In 1946-47 he was head coach at Bologna in Serie A. The Rossoblù achieved fifth place. His last managerial job was with Como in Serie B for the 1947-48 season.


He died in Bologna on August 18, 1949.


He did a good job at Lazio. The Biancocelesti have obtained second place only four times in their history: 1994-95, 1998-99, 2022-23 and under his guidance in 1936-37.


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