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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Juan Carlos Lorenzo

Juan Carlos Lorenzo was one of the weirdest people ever to land on the Lazio planet. An excellent manager in the early part of his career, he lost himself towards the end and finished being ridiculed for his habits, obsessions and superstition.

Source Wikipedia

Lorenzo was born in Buenos Aires on October 22, 1922. He started playing professional football in 1943 for Chacarita Juniors as an attacking left wing midfielder. In 1945 he signed for Boca Juniors and stayed three years before, like many of his compatriots, trying his luck in Italy.

He played for Sampdoria from 1948 to 1952 and then immigrated to France to play for Nancy. While he was there he started studying to become a manager. His last years of professional football were played in Spain with Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Real Maiorca.

In his first job as manager he took Real Maiorca from the third tier to the first in just three years. He then went back to Argentina where he was head coach of San Lorenzo and then the Argentina national team. He managed the Seleccion in the 1962 World Cup but they were knocked out in the group stage by England on goal average.

At this point he joined Lazio. In 1962 the Biancocelesti were in Serie B and had sacked Carlo Facchini after just four games. Lorenzo took his place and guided Lazio to promotion. The season after Lazio reached a comfortable 8th place and Lorenzo was offered a contract renewal despite the club not having much money. The Argentinian manager had agreed and given his word, but in a typical coup de theatre instead signed for Roma who offered him a large advance. He stayed just one year with the giallorossi and won a Coppa Italia.

In 1966 he was back as head coach of Argentina for the 1966 World Cup. This time the Seleccion reached the quarterfinals but were beaten again by England.

After managing River Plate and Real Maiorca, in 1968 he returned to Lazio. The Biancocelesti were again in Serie B and again Lorenzo guided them to promotion. Just like his previous stint, the first year back in Serie A saw Lazio reach 8th place. But, more importantly, he got President Umberto Lenzini to sign Giorgio Chinaglia and Giuseppe Wilson.

The 1970-71 season was a disaster. Lorenzo and Lenzini had deep contrasts in the summer transfer window and this feud lasted the entire season, having a very negative effect on the team. Lazio were never capable of leaving the bottom part of the table and finished second from last with only four wins in 30 matches.

After being sacked by Lazio, he managed a number of teams and was quite successful. He won two Copa Libertadores with Boca Juniors in 1977 and 1978 as well as an Intercontinental Cup in 1977, four Argentine Championships (Nacional and Metropolitano in 1972 with San Lorenzo, Nacional and Metropolitano in 1976 with Boca Juniors), and led Atletico Madrid to the European Cup final in 1974 lost to Bayern Munich.

After ending his experience with Boca, he managed other Argentine teams (Argentinos Juniors, San Lorenzo, Atlanta and Velez Sarsfield) and also had experiences in Mexico with Atlante and in Colombia with Santa Fe.

In the 1983-84 season Lazio avoided relegation to Serie B with a draw at Pisa in the last match. President Giorgio Chinaglia promised that Lazio fans would never have to suffer that much again. During the course of the season manager Giancarlo Morrone had been substituted by Paolo Carosi who had coached Bruno Giordano and Lionello Manfredonia in the Primavera team that won the championship in 1975-76.

The beginning of the 1984-85 season had not been good. Knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Roma, Lazio had lost at home against Fiorentina 1-0 and away at Udinese 5-0. Chinaglia had the brilliant idea of sacking Carosi and asking Lorenzo if he would come back to coach Lazio and he accepted.

Source Wikipedia

Lorenzo was past his prime as far as managerial style was concerned. The beginning was comforting, a draw against Diego Maradona’s Napoli and Roma, a couple of wins, maybe Chinaglia was right. But then Lazio lost 7 consecutive games before drawing at home against Ascoli and losing 4-0 in Naples. Lazio had just 10 points and were second from last. Chinaglia sacked Lorenzo after Naples but it was too late. Lazio were relegated despite having a squad with Michael Laudrup, Bruno Giordano, Lionello Manfredonia, Joao Batista and Vincenzo D’Amico.

Lorenzo’s third stint with Lazio was almost farcical. Daniele Filisetti was forced to lose 5 kilos in a week because Lorenzo wanted him to be the same weight as Trevor Francis who he had to mark in the next game. Filisetti fainted after the end of the first half. He was very superstitious to the point of insanity. He got the players to train running after chickens. Once he told Giordano that when there was a free kick, he was supposed to go to the men in the wall and insult them. The plan was to get them agitated so that the wall would open and increase the chances of scoring. He also ordered Giordano to never shoot from outside the box again. Former Lazio defender Arcadio Spinozzi even wrote a book listing all Lorenzo’s exploits.

After leaving Lazio he coached another two years. He returned to first San Lorenzo and then again Boca Juniors in 1987.

He died in Buenos Aires on November 14, 2001.

How is Lorenzo remembered? Some old timers probably have good memories, some will remember him only for his mad superstition and maybe have a laugh.

I remember him with horror.


Arcadio Spinozzi & Stefano Greco. Una vita da Lazio. Ultra Sport 2012


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