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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Maurizio Montesi

Maurizio Montesi was born in Rome, on July 26, 1957.


He came through the Lazio youth sector in the years that produced players such as Bruno Giordano, Lionello Manfredonia and Andrea Agostinelli. Lazio and Montesi won the "Primavera" (U19) Scudetto in 1976.


In 1976-77 he was part of the Lazio first team squad but never made his debut under Luís Vinicio. Lazio had a good midfield including Fernando Viola, Ciccio Cordova, Andrea Agostinelli and Vincenzo D'Amico and finished 5th. Montesi had stern competition for playing time and did not get along with captain Pino Wilson so he was sent away on loan.


In the 1977-78 season he joined Avellino in Serie B on loan. The manager was former Lazio player and future manager Paolo Carosi. Avellino had a fantastic season and conquered a historic promotion to Serie A. Montesi played 21 league games and 4 in Coppa Italia. He played alongside future Lazio Vincenzo Chiarenza and Mario Piga.


Off the field however things were different. Montesi was not your stereotypical football player. He was openly left wing, cultured and socially active. He did not integrate well in the closed, privileged environment of football. He publicly criticized the football world's wheeling and dealing.


In 1978-79 he stayed with the "Lupi" (The Wolves), under former Lazio player Rino Marchesi. The Biancoverdi had a good season and finished 10th in Serie A (beating Milan and Inter 1-0 at home and drawing 3-3 away to Juventus). Montesi played 20 league games and 2 in Coppa Italia. One of his teammates was future Lazio Paolo Beruatto.


Off the field however his alternative lifestyle and anti-conformist ideas continued to clash with the secretive, conservative and money-oriented world of "Calcio". In an interview with "Lotta Continua" (The extreme left wing party's newspaper) he accused the club of using football for personal gain and the fans of basically wasting time following the sport rather than more important social problems. In another interview with the "Panorama" weekly magazine he accused the club of supporting the violent "Ultras" with financial help and politicians of having no interest in solving the problem. He criticized the system from within and pointed his finger at the excessive money grabbing aspect of the sport. He obviously had to leave Avellino.


In 1979 he returned to Rome and Lazio. He seemingly slotted in well and played regularly under Bob Lovati. He was predictably one of the few who thought the derby where a Lazio fan, Vincenzo Paparelli, was tragically killed should not go ahead. All in all, however he integrated surprisingly well, allegedly even becoming friends with Bruno Giordano and seeing some players socially.


On February 24 1980 however, disaster struck. In an away match at Cagliari, in a tackle with Giuseppe Bellini, he broke his shin and fibula. It was the end of his season. He had played 19 league games and 6 in Coppa Italia.


Off the field he anticipated the Totonero scandal in an interview with "La Repubblica" newspaper. From his hospital bed, off the record, he told a journalist friend his truth of the soon to be scandal accusing Pino Wilson of match fixing in exchange for money. This journalist then published an article about what Montesi had said and even had a recording. When the scandal finally erupted, Montesi was suspended for four months for failure to report. An unfair sentence considering he was one of the few who blew the whistle on the supposed corruption in football. Fortunately, it was summer and unfortunately, he was injured anyway. He also received continuous threats for his actions. In the court case he finally and unwillingly confessed what he knew of the match fixing. He had known and they had even tried to rope him in but he had refused and feigned an injury not to play the infamous match (Lazio -Milan). In the end he falsely accused captain Pino Wilson of being the ring leader. He was at the end of his career and possibly in agreement with the club directors was "sacrificed" to save the younger players with a career ahead of them.


The truth eventually came out and Wilson after years of self-imposed exile, due to the shame, was rehabilitated by Lazio fans and returned to the Lazio family before his death in 2022.


In 1981-82 with Lazio still in Serie B Montesi made his comeback. The manager was Ilario Castagner and then, from February 7, Roberto Clagluna. Lazio had a poor season finishing 11th and Montesi played 4 league games.


The following season, again under Roberto Clagluna, saw the return of Bruno Giordano and Lionello Manfredonia after their Totonero bans. Montesi had played 7 league games and 1 in Coppa Italia when luck turned its back on him again. In a home game against Sambenedettese, on February 27, he broke the same leg as almost exactly three years earlier. This time it was the end and he was forced to retire at 25. For the record Lazio finally got promoted back to Serie A but there were no celebrations for Montesi.


Montesi then predictably disappeared from the football world. He also literally disappeared physically in 1992. He had organized a large delivery of hashish from Marocco but it went wrong sinking just off Ostia. It was later found by the police but Montesi had already left the country. It appears he lived in Spain for many years but is now back in Rome living in his old neighbourhood, his attempted trafficking lapsed for the law.


Montesi was a central midfielder. He was neither gifted physically, at 1.70 and 67 kilos, nor technically. He was however incredibly hardworking, a humble runner and tackler at the service of the more skilful players. He was a generous, brave and fair player. He had a very unlucky career with two serious injuries, the first in his prime from which he never really recovered. He will also be remembered as a controversial character off the field. He was a footballer with a brain, a social conscience and strong political views, which, in the conservative, materialistic world of football made up of cars, women and money, inevitably made him an outsider.


In his short career he played 42 games in Serie A (19 for Lazio) and 29 in Serie B (11 for Lazio).


Lazio Career

Season

Total Appearances

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

1979-80

25

19

-

6

1981-82

4

-

4

-

1982-83

8

-

7

1

Total

37

19

11

7

Sources


Guy Chiappaventi. La scomparsa del calciatore militante. Milieu, 2022


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