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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Walter Alt

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Walter Alt was manager at Lazio in the 1934-35 season taking the Biancocelesti to an excellent fifth place, and in 1935-36 where he resigned with three games to the end of the season. Lazio came seventh.

Source Wikipedia

Alt was born in Saitz (modern day Zajeci in the Czech Republic) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on March 25 1890. He had had a good career as professional footballer in Czechoslovakia before coming to Italy as manager of Spal in 1924. After a first season in which the Ferrara team were relegated, they promptly bounced back to the first tier after winning their second division group. In 1926-27 they just missed out on the second phase, arriving second in their group behind Reggiana. He left and returned to Ferrara during the 1932-33 season leading Spal back to Serie B. He stayed for the 1933-34 season and Spal came 8th despite selling several players. He applied Total Football tactics, very popular in Austria at the time and later to be used by Ajax in the 1970s.


Source Lazio Wiki

In 1934-35 he was called to manage Lazio. The Biancocelesti came an excellent fifth scoring lots of goals and playing exciting football. It was the first year at Lazio for Silvio Piola, the legendary Italian centre-forward. They were a very strong attacking team but weak in defence so they could win against the great northern powerhouses, but also lose to weaker teams. The fifth place was satisfactory but there was certainly potential to do better.


Alt was also confirmed the following season but whilst on one hand they continued to score, on the other the midfield could not provide the necessary cover defensively, so Lazio in the end finished seventh. Alt stayed until three games to the end when he resigned and moved to Vicenza. He was replaced by Jozsef Viola.


He stayed one year at Vicenza and they came second behind Venezia in their group of Serie C. After World War II he managed Pro Gorizia in Serie B but they were relegated. He then went back to Austria where he managed Schwechat from 1948 to 1950 and LASK from 1950 to 1953.


Alt was probably one of the first managers to apply Total Football in Italy. With Total Football a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another teammate hence maintaining the organisational structure. As a consequence anybody can play anywhere, with the exception of the goalkeeper. Crucial to the success of Total Football is the adaptability of the players and a quick switch of positions depending on what is happening on the pitch. The forerunners of this system were the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s. Jimmy Hogan, a former English footballer and manager, formed a partnership with Hugo Meisi, coach of the Austrian national team which in the beginning of the 1930s was the strongest side in Europe.


In the 1930s it became popular for Italian clubs to hire Hungarian and Austrian managers who contributed to make Serie A teams more professional from an organisational point of view introducing modern training sessions and tactics.


Walter Alt certainly helped Lazio move towards a more modern concept of football and become more competitive, despite the financial limits.


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