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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Mario Frustalupi

Mario Frustalupi was born in Orvieto (Terni), on September 16, 1942.

Source Wikipedia

He started playing for his local team Orvietana in 1957 but in 1960 joined Sampdoria. He did not manage to make his debut with the Blucerchiati so in 1961 he was loaned to Empoli in Serie C.

In Tuscany he played 19 league games with 2 goals, under player manager Egisto Pandolfini, but the Azzurri were relegated to Serie D.

In 1962-63 he was back with Sampdoria in Serie A. This time he made his debut on May 5, 1963 against Torino, scoring a goal in a 2-4 defeat. That however was his only appearance, under first Roberto Lerici and then Austrian Ernst Ocwirk. The Blucerchiati finished 11th.

From the following season he started to play regularly and did so for the next seven. Sampdoria finished 15th, 14th, 16th (relegated), 1st (promoted), 10th, 12th and 13th. His managers were Ocwirk, Giuseppe Baldini, Gipo Poggi, and Fulvio Bernardini for three seasons. Frustalupi played 164 games in Serie A with 21 goals and 38 in B with 1 goal. His Serie A goals included one against Roma away in a 1-1 draw in 1968 and another in a 3-3 away draw in 1969.

After eight seasons with "Il Doria" he signed for Inter in 1970. In his first year the manager was first Heriberto Herrera (1-5) and then Giovanni Invernizzi (6-30). With Invernizzi he played less and did not get along with Jair. The Nerazzurri won the Scudetto and Frustalupi played 18 league games with 1 goal (Bologna), 3 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal (Como) and 1 in the Fairs Cup.

In 1971-72 Invernizzi stayed on but Inter finished 5th. They reached the final of the European Cup but lost to Cruijff's Ajax 0-2 in Rotterdam where Frustalupi played the whole game. In the semi-final he scored his penalty in the victorious shootout against Celtic. He played 20 league games with 1 goal (Varese) and 7 games in the European Cup. One of his teammates was former Lazio striker Gian Piero Ghio. At Inter at 30 he was then considered past it and let go.

In 1972 Frustalupi joined Lazio. Inter wanted Giuseppe Massa and gave Lazio Frustalupi, Massimo Silva plus money to sign him. Lazio needed a playmaker and Frustalupi proved to be perfect. With the arrivals of keeper Felice Pulici, defender Sergio Petrelli, midfielder Luciano Re Cecconi and winger Renzo Garlaschelli, added to Pino Wilson, Gigi Martini and Giorgio Chinaglia, Lazio put together a competitive team under the wise guidance of Tommaso Maestrelli.

In 1972-73 Lazio were superb and played spectacular "Dutch" style football and went extremely close to the league title, finishing 3rd after a dramatic last day of the season. They won both derbies and Frustalupi played 30 league games with 1 goal (Ternana), 4 in Coppa Italia and 2 in the Anglo-Italian Cup.

The following season came Lazio's masterpiece. The Biancocelesti won their first historic Scudetto and again won both derbies. Frustalupi played 30 league games, 6 in Coppa Italia and 4 in the UEFA Cup. A memorable season for Lazio and Frustalupi was one of the brightest stars.

Official SS Lazio photo

In 1974-75 Lazio had a difficult season due to the deterioration of Maestrelli's health. Lazio showed flashes of their championship winning form, beating Juventus and Milan but off field worries distracted the team. They finished 4th and Frustalupi played 28 league games with 1 goal (1-0 winner against Cagliari) and 4 in Coppa Italia. Lazio were never allowed to represent Italy in the European Cup as they were banned for a year, following the incidents and brawl against Ipswich the previous season in the UEFA Cup.

In 1975 he was inexplicably sold to Cesena in Serie A along with defender Giancarlo Oddi. He was still at the top of his game and Cesena came 6th (best in their history and UEFA qualification). Frustalupi played 30 league games under manager Giuseppe Marchioro and scored 7 goals (Roma in 2-0 win, Sampdoria, Perugia, Juventus, Verona, Inter and Roma again in 2-2 away draw) plus 4 games in Coppa Italia.

The following year the "Cavalluccio" (The Seahorse) from Romagna had problems and were relegated. The Bianconeri changed managers three times (former Lazio Giulio Corsini, to Ferrario-Neri duo, to Domenico Rosati and then back to the Ferrario-Neri combination). Frustalupi played 21 league games with 1 goal (Foggia). One of their three wins was a 4-0 thrashing of Roma. In the UEFA Cup they were eliminated in the 1st round by East Germans Magdeburg 3-4 on aggregate.

In 1977 he joined his last club Pistoiese in Serie B. In his first year under Bruno Bolchi (1-11) and Enzo Riccomini, the Arancioni finished 16th. Frustalupi played 21 league games with 3 goals. He played with young and future stars Sergio Brio (Juventus) and Beppe Dossena (Torino, Sampdoria).

In 1978-79, under Riccomini, the "Olandesina" finished 5th and Frustalupi played 37 league games with 2 goals. His teammates included Lazio connections Maurizio Moscatelli, Stefano Di Chiara and Fortunato Torrisi.

In 1979-80 the Orange were promoted to Serie A with a 2nd place finish. Frustalupi played 27 league games. His teammates included future managers Marcello Lippi and Francesco Guidolin.

He played his last season in Serie A with Pistoiese. The manager was Lido Vieri but the Tuscans were unable to avoid relegation. Frustalupi played 23 league games with 1 goal (Avellino). The squad included Lazio's Andrea Agostinelli and Roberto Badiani.

At almost 39 he retired after a fine career.

After retiring he opened a Lancia car dealership, collaborated with Pistoiese and for a period was their Sporting Director.

Frustalupi died tragically in 1990 in a car crash while joining his family on holiday. In the accident, in terrible weather, a whole family of four also died, including a three-month-old baby. Frustalupi was 48.

His son Nicolò is also involved in football and for many years was Walter Mazzari's assistant (Napoli, Inter, Torino). More recently he was Napoli's Primavera coach (U19's).

Frustalupi was a giant despite his height of 1.66. He was a midfield playmaker, pulling the strings in midfield with timing, elegance, calm, positioning and technique. When he was younger, he was known as Mariolino (he was the youngest of eight children) but later became Frusta at Lazio. He could play with both feet and had a magnificent footballing brain. One of his managers once phoned Frustalupi’s father to ask if his son was right or left-footed. You could not tell. He won two league titles (Inter '71 and Lazio '74) and played in a European Cup final. He played 364 games in Serie A with 34 goals

At Lazio, Frustalupi (the aptly named Wolf thrasher) is a legend. He only stayed three seasons but was part of their most loved team ever. During the week they were divided into clans (Chinaglia, Wilson and Pulici's against Re Cecconi, Martini and Frustalupi's) but on the Sunday they were unstoppable together. Frustalupi was reborn in Rome and was considered, along with Chinaglia, the most important member of the team. The name Frustalupi will always have a mythical aura at Lazio and deservedly so. His sale in 1976 is still considered one of the biggest market mistakes in Lazio's history, along with that of Pavel Nedved to buy Gaizka Mendieta. Fortunately, the Wolf thrasher had already made history for Lazio.

Lazio Career


Total Appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia


Ango Italian Cup


36 (1)

30 (1)











32 (1)






108 (2)

88 (1)






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