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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Manager Series: Luis Vinicio

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

There are no major events today so we will talk about a manager. Luis Vinicio was manager at Lazio for the 1976-77 season, taking Lazio to a UEFA Cup qualification, and for the majority of the 1977-78 championship.

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He was born Luís Vinicius de Menezes, on February 28, 1932, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Unlike many Brazilian players he came from a wealthy background.

At 10 he joined local team Aventureros for four years and then Metallusina for five. His sister was a P.E teacher and her husband a tennis coach so they made sure he was ready physically.

As mentioned, he came from a wealthy family and he was expected to become a professional, not footballer but architect. His talents however, developed by his mentor don Antonio Lunardi and his first coach Jair de Assis, took him down a different path.

In 1951, at 19, he joined Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro. He stayed three seasons with "Fogão" playing 42 games with 24 goals (probably more games and goals but records incomplete). He played alongside Garrincha and Dino Da Costa, a formidable trio. Vinicio started to be called "au leau do Botafogo''. In 1955 he left the "Estrella Solitaria" (The Lonely Star) and went to Europe.

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Botafogo had toured Europe in the summer and Vinicio was spotted by Napoli who then signed him. He was immediately appreciated by the Neapolitans who confirmed his nickname "O Lione" (The Lion). On his debut he scored after only forty seconds against Torino. In his first season he scored 16 league goals in 26 appearances and Napoli finished 14th. He was to make up a great attacking duo with Swedish Hasse Jeppson and the partnership was nicknamed "V2" after the German missile, but the double centre-forward never took off completely due to jealousies and rivalries. In 1956 the Swede was sold to Torino.

In his second year he was the second best goal scorer in Serie A with 18 goals (including Roma) in 34 games. Napoli came 11th under Amedeo Amedei (former Roma legend). At the end of the season he married Flora Aida Piccaglia, a wealthy girl he had met in Brazil and by chance again in Naples, in a traditional, big Neapolitan wedding.

In 1957-58 he fared even better with 21 league goals (including Lazio and Roma) in 34 league games plus 1 in Coppa Italia. Napoli did better too, finishing fourth under Amedei.

In 1958-59 he scored less, 7 goals (including Roma) in 28 league games plus a game in Coppa Italia. Napoli finished 7th again under Amedei.

The 1959-60 season would be his last in Naples as a player. The Partenopei changed manager to Annibale Frossi but called back Amedei after losing the first four games. Vinicio played 30 league games and scored 7 goals, plus 1 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal. He did however score a scissor kick in the first game ever at the San Paolo Stadium (now Diego Armando Maradona Stadium) in a 2-1 win over Juventus on December 6. Napoli finished 13th. The coach Amedei started putting pressure on owner Achille Lauro to sell Vinicio and Bruno Pesaola. A banner appeared at the stadium saying "Sell your soul but not Vinicio".

As it was, in 1960 "O Lione" left Napoli and joined Bologna. In his first year he played 30 league games with 11 goals (including a brace against Roma) plus 2 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal. Bologna finished 9th under Federico Allasio (Lazio manager for 7 games in 1954) and won the Mitropa Cup.

In his second year in Emilia he played less due to the signing of prolific young Danish striker Harald Nielsen (he would score 81 goals in 6 years). Vinicio played 17 league games with 6 goals, plus 1 game in Coppa Italia with 1 goal. Vinicio at this point was ready to go back to Brazil and was already on the boat when he was approached by the directors of the Italian club Vicenza.

He was convinced and in October 1962 he moved to Vicenza. The manager was Manlio Scopigno (he would later win a historic Scudetto with Cagliari in 1970). Vinicio made his debut in a 1-0 win over Roma. He played 26 league games and scored 6 goals. The "Lane" (The Woolies) finished 7th.

In 1963-64 he started scoring more again. He played 29 league games with 17 goals plus 1 game in Coppa Italia with 1 goal. The "Berici" (from Berici hills) finished 6th. He formed an excellent partnership with Giovanni Vastola and the nickname "V2" was pulled out again.

In 1964-65 he made 27 league appearances with 12 goals and Vicenza finished 12th.

In 1965-66 he had his most prolific season. Vicenza changed manager from Scopigno to Aldo Campatelli (297 games as a player for Inter). Vinicio played 34 league games and scored 25 goals (including Milan, Roma and Lazio) plus 3 goals in Coppa Italia. He was top scorer in Serie A and Vicenza finished 5th.

His exploits with Vicenza earned him a move to Inter in 1966. Legend has it however that the manager Helenio "Il Mago" Herrera only signed him to prevent him from going to the competition. Only two foreigners could play per game and Inter already had star strikers Jair and Suarez and anyway Vinicio did not really fit in with Inter's style of play. As it was, Vinicio only played 8 league games and scored 1 goal (on his league debut against Foggia). The Nerazzurri came 2nd in the league behind Juventus and lost the final of the European Cup against Celtic Glasgow (2-1 in Lisbon).

In 1967 Vinicio returned to Vicenza. He played another 25 league games with 7 goals (including Napoli and an undoubtedly satisfying brace against Inter) plus 1 game in Coppa Italia. The "Nobile Provinciale" (The Provincial Nobleman) finished 12th under Arturo Silvestri.

At 36 Vinicio retired after an excellent career. He played 390 games with 179 goals.

He stayed in football and immediately became a manager. His first job was Internapoli in Serie C. Here he coached Giorgio Chinaglia and Pino Wilson (future Italian Champions with Lazio). The Campani came 3rd.

In 1969-70 he was with Brindisi in Serie C. The "Adriatici" from Apulia fought for promotion but came 2nd.

In 1970-71 he coached Ternana in Serie B. The Rossoverdi from Umbria came 11th.

The next two seasons saw him back at the gates to the East in Brindisi. In the first season the Biancazzurri won promotion to Serie B and the following year finished 11th.

In 1973-74 he returned under Vesuvius and became manager of Napoli. He stayed three seasons with 3rd, 2nd and 5th places. It was here he became the first in Italy to play the Dutch "Zona"(new deal) style of football, thus breaking away from the traditional man to man marking. Especially from his second year, with the arrival of defender Tarcisio Burgnich, Vinicio played the "total football" way.

In 1976 he moved to the capital and joined Lazio. He had the difficult task of taking over from club legend Tommaso Maestrelli (who would pass away on December 2, 1976) but Lazio had a good season and finished 5th (also winning a derby). His strict discipline was in sharp contrast to Maestrelli's more permissive approach but the results on the field earned him another season.

Source Wikipedia

The following year was not as positive. He brought Sergio Clerici and Luigi Boccolini from Napoli and replaced keeper Felice Pulici with Claudio Garella plus tried to impose the "zonal" defence on a reluctant group of players. After a decent start (including 3-0 vs Juventus) the team started to struggle and Vinicio, after a defeat by Foggia, was replaced by Bob Lovati after 24 games, with Lazio in the relegation battle. They eventually survived while in Vinicio's tenure they reached the last 16 of the UEFA Cup but were infamously hit for Six by Didier and his friends in a 6-0 defeat in Lens after extra-time.

From October 1978 Vinicio returned to Napoli for another two seasons, although he was replaced by Sormani near the end of the second. The "Azzurri" came 6th and 10th.

In 1980 he stayed in Campania but moved to Irpinia and joined Avellino. On a non-football note the Avellino area in particular was hit by a devastating earthquake on November 23, killing almost 3,000 and injuring another 8,000. Back to football the "Lupi" of Avellino had a good season, despite the tragic events and a 5 point handicap due to the Calcio Scommesse scandal (match fixing scandal of 1980), and finished 10th.

The next season Vinicio stayed on but only for the first 21 games (in which they beat Roma and Milan) when he resigned and was replaced by Claudio Tobia. The Biancoverdi finished an honourable 8th.

In 1982 Vinicio joined newly promoted Pisa in Serie A. The Nerazzurri survived with a decent 11th place and reached the quarter final of the Coppa Italia, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Inter.

The next season Pisa initially gave the managerial job to Bruno Pace but then after the first 5 games called Vinicio back. He did not do badly, 2 wins (one was Lazio), 10 draws and 3 defeats but for the 21st fixture volatile owner Romeo Anconetani decided to call back Pace. Pisa were relegated in 15th place (Lazio meanwhile stayed up thanks to a 2-2 draw in Pisa in the last match).

In 1984-85 Vinicio was in Friuli with Udinese along with fellow Brazilians Zico and Edinho. The "Zebrette" finished 11th (beating Lazio 5-0 and 4-1).

In 1986-87, after a deserved year off, Vinicio returned to Avellino in Serie A. It was a positive season and the Irpini finished 8th (beating Milan and Roma plus Udinese 6-2 away).

After a few years rest Vinicio made a comeback in 1991-92 at Juventus Stabia (from Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples) in Serie C2. The "Vespe" (The Wasps) came 16th and survived after a playoff.

That was his last job. At 60 he called it a day after an excellent playing career and a good managerial one.



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