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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

May 14, 2000: Lazio Reggina 3-0

Updated: May 14

Impossible became possible


Lazio win their second scudetto on a day which could not have been more dramatic.



Official SS Lazio photo

The season so far


In the previous season Lazio had gone agonisingly close to winning the scudetto. With eight games to the end of the season they were leading with five points over Fiorentina and seven over Milan. But a single point in the next three games reduced the cushion over Milan to just one point. Lazio then won three consecutive games but so did Milan. In the penultimate match in Florence, the Biancocelesti were held to a draw and denied a clear penalty by a distracted referee. Milan won, overtook them, and maintained the lead in the last game.


In the summer transfer window, Lazio surprisingly sold their centre forward Christian Vieri to Inter in exchange for 90 billion lire (45 million euros) plus Diego Simeone. Other signings were Juan Sebastian Veron and Nestor Sensini from Parma, Simone Inzaghi from Piacenza and Kenneth Andersson from Bologna. The Swede would go back to Emilia Romagna in the winter and Lazio would add Fabrizio Ravanelli.


The 1999-00 season opened with the victory against the mighty Manchester United in Monte Carlo for the UEFA Super Cup with a Marcelo Salas goal. Another European triumph after having won the final Cup Winners Cup the previous year in Birmingham against Real Mallorca.


The 1999-00 Champions League saw Lazio participate for the very first time. In the 1974-75 season Lazio should have played the European Cup but had been disqualified following the brawl with Ipswich Town players in the UEFA Cup earlier the previous season.


Lazio were grouped with Bayer Leverkusen, Dynamo Kiev and Maribor and first place was secured thanks to four wins against the Ukrainians and Slovenians plus two draws against the Germans. The second part of the Champions League was another group phase, this time against Chelsea, Olympique Marseille and Feyenoord.


Qualification for the quarterfinal was put in peril after beating the French twice, but only getting one point against the Dutch. In the final game against Chelsea, after having drawn at home, Lazio had to win at Stamford Bridge to clinch the qualification in first place (the top two teams went through) as a bonus so they could avoid having to play the quarter final against Barcelona, Manchester United or Bayern. They managed to do so coming from behind in a spectacular game. In the quarterfinals Lazio played against Valencia. Everybody thought that it would be an easy match, but Lazio collapsed in Spain. Without Luca Marchegiani and Alessandro Nesta, Lazio went 2-0 down after 4 minutes, re-opened the game thanks to an Inzaghi goal half way through the first half, but Valencia netted another two goals and with ten minutes to the end were leading 4-1. Salas scored in the dying minutes to give Lazio a chance of qualification but another defensive blunder with just a few seconds to go, gave Valencia a three goal lead. Fans were hopeful Lazio could recover at the Olimpico, but the Biancocelesti only scored one goal with Veron and went out of the Champions League. A real pity.


In the campionato the Biancocelesti started well and by the sixth game they took the solitary lead. Juventus caught up with Lazio in the 10th game after the Biancoclesti lost the derby. A trio of teams (Lazio, Roma and Juve) then led the Serie A for a few matches until Lazio sprinted off in the 14th. It did not last long. A loss on a frozen Venice evening on January 5 gave Juventus the lead again. Roma had fallen behind. Lazio regained the top of the table after beating Bologna in the Centenary game, but two goalless draws in the next two games gave Juve a three-point lead. By the 26th game the deficit increased to nine points and it looked as if it was all over for the scudetto. But on March 25 Lazio won the derby and Juve lost at Milan. The Biancocelesti were at -6 but the next match was in Turin against Juventus. Thanks to a goal from Diego Simeone, the Juventus lead was reduced to three points. However Florence looked as if it would be fatal again as Lazio drew 3-3 and Juventus won in Milan against Inter.


There were four games to go. Everybody thought it was all over but manager Sven Goran Eriksson tried to get the team to believe in the impossible. In the 32nd game of the season Lazio beat Venezia and Juventus lost at Verona. Two games to go, two points difference. Lazio beat Bologna away and Juventus were winning 1-0 against Parma. Towards the end of the match there was a corner for Parma. Mario Amoroso crossed and Fabio Cannavaro equalised but the referee inexplicably disallowed it.


This was the talking point in Italy for the entire week. Juve had already won a controversial scudetto a couple of years back when a clear penalty on Ronaldo was not given to Inter in Turin. So there was massive media pressure on the last two games of the season: Lazio-Reggina and Perugia-Juventus.


Perugia President Luciano Gaucci, ashamed of the lack of fighting spirit his team had shown against Milan in the last game of the previous season, stated that it would not be a walkover for Juventus. Lazio fans hoped in a draw and then to go to a playoff.


But first there was a game to be won.


The match: Sunday May 14, 2000, Stadio Olimpico Rome


Lazio started very strongly and in the 5th minute they had a chance with Diego Simeone on an assist from Juan Sebastian Veron, but El Cholo’s shot from favourable position was too high. In the 10th minute, there was a free kick on the right. Beppe Pancaro to Veron in the box who crossed, Simone Inzaghi missed the header, Marcelo Salas was anticipated by the Reggina defence, ball to Fernando Couto, again too high. In the 13th minute Beppe Favalli crossed from the left, Pavel Nedved’s header went wide.


In the 33rd minute, long pass from Veron, just over the half way line on the left, to Roberto Mancini on the far right just outside the box. Mancio dribbled past Bruno Cirillo and crossed for Inzaghi who tried to head the ball towards the centre but Ezio Brevi stuck his hand out. Penalty. Inzaghi took the spot kick, 1-0 for Lazio.


In the meantime, in Perugia a storm had broken out and it was raining. Perugia had started the game well and in the 8th minute Nicola Amoruso had a chance but his shot was just wide. In the 17th minute, long pass from midfield by Alessio Tacchinardi, ball in the box on the left for Pippo Inzaghi whose shot was wide by a whisker. Alessandro Del Piero had a chance on a free kick in the 33rd minute but his shot just missed the post.


Back at the Olimpico, in the 35th minute a colossal chance for Lazio to double. Salas on the right sent the ball in for either Inzaghi or Mancini completely unmarked. Simone tried a header but could not get there, Mancini could not volley the ball and in the end shot wide. Not to worry, a minute later Pancaro in the box was fouled by Giovanni Morabito and the referee gave Lazio a second penalty. It was a very generous penalty!!!. This time Veron went to take the spot kick and Lazio went two up.


At Perugia the heavens had opened and it was bucketing down. In the 41st minute Zinedine Zidane from outside the box but central tried a daisy cutter, ball just wide.


The first halves ended with Lazio winning 2-0 and Juventus drawing 0-0.


But the biggest storm since people could remember was taking place in Perugia and the rain was pouring down. The matches should have been taking place at the same time as to not give an advantage to either team, so at the Olimpico they waited to see what would happen in Perugia. After a quarter of an hour the match in Rome started just the same. At Perugia they waited.


Simone Inzaghi in the 49th minute was all alone in front of Massimo Taibi but his shot went into the Curva Sud. In the 58th minute a free kick for Lazio. Veron crossed the ball from the right into the box, Simeone was ready for the header, 3-0 for Lazio. Game over.

Official SS Lazio photo

In the 74th minute Mancini left the field substituted by Sergio Conceicao. His last League game. Standing ovation and Mancio was carried on Attilio Lombardo's shoulders in front of the Curva Nord for his final applause.


What was happening in Perugia? Referee Pierluigi Collina tried a number of times to see if the ball would bounce on the waterlogged pitch, but no. There was a problem. If the game had been abandoned they would have to start from scratch the next day. With what had happened in the previous match when Cannavaro’s goal was disallowed for no reason at all, the Italian referee felt that the repetition of the game would have been unfair. So he insisted. When they were about to give up, the rain stopped. The pitch was not in ideal condition, but playable. The second half could recommence, an hour later than it should have.

Source Wikipedia

At the Olimpico some of the fans had run onto the pitch, some had stayed in the stands looking to find somebody with a radio. There was a rumour that they might have shown the Perugia game on the stadium screen but it did not happen. The Lazio players went into the changing rooms and in small groups found televisions to watch. Some just prayed, not wanting to hear.


In the 50th minute a free kick for Perugia on the left not too far from the halfway line. Milan Rapajc crossed the ball into the box, Antonio Conte cleared but the ball fell to Alessandro Calori. The big defender had a chance to make history, even if not for his own club, and he did not miss. His volley went into the net. Perugia 1 Juventus 0 and Lazio now were temporarily Champions.


At the Olimpico the news spread like a slow fire and the fans went absolutely crazy. Just like they did in the rest of the city and worldwide.


In Perugia Conte had a chance in the 57th minute but his volley from outside the box was wide. The left wing was completely water logged and that’s where Perugia wanted to play whereas Juventus were looking for the drier patches. But the Bianconeri were tired, very tired. Their energy had already started to fade a few games back and now they had to score a goal on a heavy pitch and they only had slightly over 30 minutes to do so. In the 60th minute Del Piero found Inzaghi unmarked in front of Andrea Mazzantini but the older of the brothers could not control the ball. Gianluca Zambrotta came onto the pitch in the 66th minute. Seven minutes and two fouls later he was sent off. Juve now down to 10 men.


The RAI radio commentary started to blare out on the Olimpico tannoy, so now everybody could listen to the match. The commentator was Riccardo Cucchi who later when he retired confessed that he was a Lazio supporter. A famous TV program also did the same so those who were at home could listen to the game via the tube.


In the 78th minute Ciro Ferrara crossed into the middle of the box, the Perugia defence cleared but the ball reached Zidane. Volley, deflected, wide. In the 83rd minute Juan Esnaider dribbled a first Perugia player, a second, a third and shot at goal but a fourth managed to parry and the goalkeeper picked the ball up comfortably. In the 85th minute a big whack from outside the box by Zidane, Mazzanti saved. In the 87th another shot, this time by Edgar Davids, was again saved by the Perugia goalkeeper. A minute later 4 against 2 Perugia counter attack, but Rapajc did not want to make it worse.


Five minutes of injury time. Insults poured out at the Olimpico and around Rome against Collina. The Lazio fans already at the end of their tether could not stand it any longer. There were no more nails left to bite, some were crying for the tension, others were catatonic, even the non religious prayed.


In the first minute of injury time, Davids sent a ball from his box on the limit of the Perugia one, Darko Kovacevic headed it towards Pippo Inzaghi who was completely alone in front of the keeper. He decided to volley the ball. Out. Some Lazio fans died on the spot. However he was offside.


Collina closed the game with over six minutes of injury time.


Cucchi announced “it is 18.04 on May 14, 2000. La Lazio è Campione d'Italia", Lazio are Italian Champions!!


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Concetti, Lombardo, Stankovic, Ravanelli 

Manager: Eriksson 


Who played for Reggina


Taibi, Oshadogan, Stovini, Giacchetta (51' Possanzini), Cirillo, Brevi, Baronio (59' Vargas), Morabito, Cozza (46' Pirlo), Bogdani, Kallon.

Substitutes: Belardi, Foglio, Bernini, Reggi.

Manager: Colomba.


Referee: Borriello


Goals: 33’ Inzaghi (pen), 37’ Veron (pen), 59’ Simeone.



What happened next


Wild celebrations in Rome and elsewhere. People flocked to Piazza del Popolo and later waited for the team at the Circo Massimo, but there were so many people that the bus with the Lazio players could not get there.


Four days later Lazio won the Coppa Italia, but we will be speaking about that in 4 days time.


On Sunday May 21, great celebrations at the Stadio Olimpico with a friendly between Lazio and Beppe Signori’s Bologna.

Source Wikipedia

Lazio 1999-2000

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

34

21

9

4

64

Coppa Italia

8

4

3

1

18

Champions League

14

6

6

2

26

UEFA Super Cup

1

1

-

-

1

Total

57

32

18

7

109

Appearances

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Super Cup

Nedved

47

28

6

12

1

Simeone

47

28

7

11

1

Veron

47

31

4

11

1

Mihajlovic

46

26

7

12

1

Pancaro

45

28

5

11

1

Conceicao

43

30

4

9

-

Negro

42

26

5

10

1

Salas

42

28

3

10

1

Nesta

41

28

3

9

1

Inzaghi

40

22

6

11

1

Marchegiani

39

28

-

10

1

Mancini

37

20

1

9

1

Boksic

33

19

4

10

-

Sensini

32

23

2

7

-

Stankovic

32

16

4

11

1

Almeyda

30

19

2

8

1

Couto

26

14

5

7

-

Favalli

25

18

2

5

-

Lombardo

22

10

6

5

1

Ballotta

21

9

8

4

-

Ravanelli

21

16

5

-

-

Gottardi

19

5

7

7

-

Marcolin

7

-

5

2

-

Pinzi

4

-

3

1

-

Andersson

2

2

-

-

-

Virgili

2

-

2

-

-

Conti

1

-

1

-

-

Pisano

1

-

1

-

-

Goals

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Super Cup

Inzaghi

19

7

3

9

-

Salas

17

12

-

4

1

Mihajlovic

13

6

4

3

-

Veron

10

8

-

2

-

Boksic

8

4

3

1

-

Nedved

7

5

1

1

-

Simeone

7

5

2

-

-

Stankovic

5

3

-

2

-

Conceicao

4

2

-

2

-

Ravanelli

4

2

2

-

-

Pancaro

3

3

-

-

-

Negro

3

2

-

1

-

Mancini

3

-

3

-

-

Sensini

1

1

-

-

-

Almeyda

1

1

-

-

-

Lombardo

1

1

-

-

-


Let's talk about Roberto Mancini


Lazio had loads of players that could be defined as the scudetto winners, but Roberto Mancini was the one who changed the Lazio mentality. Rome is not an easy city in which to play football, especially at Lazio. To win one needs common intent: players, club, fans, media, all have to row in the same direction, otherwise a win is impossible. The arrival of Mancini at Lazio changed everything and the Biancocelesti started to win. Mancini was a flamboyant forward with great footballing intelligence. He was not a number 9 but not a number 10 either, somewhere in the middle. He had a very strong personality and was a leader on the pitch and in the changing rooms.


Roberto Mancini was born in Jesi, near Ancona, on November 27, 1964. At the age of 13 he joined Bologna where he played in the youth teams. He debuted in the A team in Coppa Italia on September 6 ,1981 and a week later in Serie A. He was the sixth youngest player to debut in Serie A history. He played every single game that season for Bologna and scored 9 goals.


In the summer of 1982 he signed for Sampdoria. President Paolo Mantovani was very ambitious and wanted to build a team starting with the best Italian young players. A few years later he was joined by Gianluca Vialli and the two became a formidable attacking duo. Mancini stayed in Genoa for 15 years. He played 567 games and scored 171 goals. He won a scudetto in 1990-91, 4 times the Coppa Italia (1984-85, 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1993-94), a Cup Winners Cup in 1989-90 and a Super Coppa in 1991. He came agonizingly close to winning a European Cup in 1992 when Sampdoria lost to Barcelona at Wembley in extra time.


In 1997 Sven Goran Eriksson became Lazio’s new manager. When he arrived, he told President Sergio Cragnotti that he needed three players to win the scudetto: Sinisa Mihajlovic, Juan Sebastian Veron and Roberto Mancini. The latter had become a free agent after a decision not to renew his contract with Sampdoria, and he was looking for an ambitious team. Eriksson and Cragnotti convinced him to come to Rome.


At Lazio he helped change the mentality of the team. Lazio became a power to reckon with. Under Dino Zoff and Zdenek Zeman at times they had been very strong but lacked continuity. To win the scudetto you needed to beat the greats but also win against the smaller teams. And this is what Lazio were able to do in the most fantastic three years of their history. In the first season, the Biancocelesti reached two cup finals. They won the Coppa Italia against Milan (first silverware since 1974) but lost the UEFA Cup final to Inter. In campionato, the start had been difficult. They did beat Roma 3-1 but after the 11th game they were 9th, 12 points off leaders Inter. They then did not lose for 16 games so after the 27th game Lazio were third, two points behind leaders Juventus and one behind Inter. The game against Juventus could have meant topping Serie A, but Lazio lost. A few penalties ignored by referee Collina, Angelo Peruzzi saves, and the lack of experience playing at these levels translated into a bad day. The Biancocelesti crumbled in Serie A and made just one point in the remaining 6 games. But they had won a trophy and that was really something. Mancini played 52 games and scored 9 goals in all competitions.


In his second year Eriksson moved him to midfield. In attack Lazio had Marcelo Salas and Christian Vieri but the latter had suffered an injury early in season and only came back in January. From then on Mancini moved back behind the forwards. Lazio were top for a number of games but in the end lost the scudetto again due to “helpful referees”. But they won two trophies: the Italian Super Coppa and the last Cup Winners Cup. Mancini played 47 games and scored 12 goals.


In 1999-00 the scudetto triumph, which we have written about earlier. Mancini played less, just 37 games with three goals, and decided that it was going to be his last year as a footballer. An end with a bang, as Lazio also won the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United.


In total, Mancio played 136 times for Lazio (87 in Serie A, 21 in Coppa Italia, 9 in Champions League, 7 in the Cup Winners Cup, 10 in the UEFA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a Super Coppa) with 24 goals (15 in Serie A, 6 in Coppa Italia, 3 in the UEFA Cup). With Lazio he won a scudetto, the Coppa Italia twice, a Cup Winners Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and a Super Coppa.


Mancini had a problematic relationship with the Nazionale. Despite being one the greatest players of his generation, he only has 36 caps (4 goals) and the only major tournament he played in was Euro 1988. He was part of the squad for the 1990 World Cup but never played. The main problem was the fact that the Italy managers preferred Roberto Baggio, and so he missed out.


After quitting football he decided to become a manager and his first job was assistant to Eriksson at Lazio. After a series of poor results, and with a contract to become England manager starting from the summer of 2001, Eriksson resigned in January 2001 and so did Mancini.


At this point he surprisingly signed for Leicester City as a player. In a month he played five games but decided to quit once Fiorentina tempted him with a managerial job. He became Viola manager in February 2001. Fiorentina had already qualified for the Coppa Italia final and Mancini led them to victory. He was confirmed for the 2001-02 season but financial difficulties, poor results and threats from supporters, led to him to resign in January.


As soon as he quit, the rumours of him moving to Lazio started. This did not help Alberto Zaccheroni, even though his reign as manager had been pretty dismal. Zaccheroni had replaced Dino Zoff at the beginning of the season. The bad relationship the manager had with both players and fans eventually paved the way for the return of Mancio to Lazio.


His first problems at Lazio were the loss of Alessandro Nesta and Hernan Crespo on the last day of the summer transfer window. Lazio had financial difficulties and had to sell players in order to pay wages. However Mancini managed to make the most of it and Lazio began the season very well, even reaching top place in the Campionato. However, a poor winter spell took Lazio out of the title race but maintained Champions League qualification hope. Lazio ended up fourth and were to play the qualifying round. The Biancocelesti also reached the semi-finals of both the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. They played spectacularly well and were a pleasure to watch.


Problems started in his second year. Mancini, who in the meantime with the resignation of Sergio Cragnotti had been made a member of the board of directors, increased his salary from €1.5 million a year to €7.5 million, but the players had been asked to cut their wages and/or accept shares as partial payment. This created a first internal riff. The second was Mancio’s decision to change from a 4-4-2 formation to 3-5-2. The team was not really too happy. Lazio managed to qualify for the Champions League group phase but was unable to get through, playing very, very badly. In Campionato, things were not all that great and, even if they did fight all season for a place in the next Champions League, Lazio missed out. However, the Coppa Italia campaign was triumphant and Lazio won the Cup.


Mancini knew that he was going to leave at the end of the season and early on started talks with Inter. He also tried to convince some players to follow him. The fans had no idea what was happening internally and thought that Mancini was their knight in shining armour, but he wasn’t. At the end of the season, with Lazio in deep financial trouble (also due to his large wage increase), he left and joined Inter. He would never have stayed in a club with little money and with Claudio Lotito as President, but he could have been more sincere with the fans.


At Inter, in his first year he won the Coppa Italia and came third in Serie A. He did the same in his second year, but, with the outbreak of the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus was stripped of the title, Milan penalised 30 points, so Inter won the 2005-06 scudetto. He would win it again in the next two years too, as well as a couple of Super Coppas. Despite the wins, the relationship with President Massimo Moratti worsened considerably and in May 2008 he was sacked.


After over a year of inactivity, in December 2009 he became manager of Manchester City. In his first season they reached a Europa League qualification. Things improved in his second year with a FA Cup win and a direct qualification to the Champions League. In his third year he won the Community Shield and the premiership in a dramatic match. 2-1 down in the final game, City managed to overturn the score in the last possible second (Sergio Aguero's famous goal).


His third and last year at City started well with the Community Shield win, but a poor Champions League campaign, problems in relationships with the players and a loss in the FA Cup final to Wigan led to his sacking.


In September 2013 he became manager of Galatasaray. He stayed a year, winning the Turkish Cup. However, budget cuts meant that ambitious Mancio would not have the players that he wanted so the two parties parted.


In November 2014 he returned to Inter. The first year of his second stint in Milan was dismal but his second started well and Inter were top of the Campionato for a long time. But the team collapsed at the beginning of 2016 and ended up 4th. He was going to stay but problems with the new management led to him to resign in August.


After being unemployed for a year, in 2017 he signed for Zenit Saint Petersburg. He stayed for just one season and in May 2018 he became the new Italy manager. Italy had failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 and they needed a revolution.


With Italy he did really well. 37 games without losing, victory in Euro 2020 beating England at Wembley on penalties. However, were Italy playing well? Not really. They had been lucky in the Euros but the media failed to see that. The continuous use of players who were not all that great or who had been great but had now passed their prime should have raised some alarm bells. When you have probably one of the greatest goal scoring machines in Italian football history, Ciro Immobile, you should put him in a position to exploit his talent as much as possible. But Mancini didn’t think so, hence Immobile was always forced to play for the rest of the team, often back to the goal, in a role which was not his cup of tea. The media had a field day in criticizing Immobile. Why does he score so much at Lazio and not for Italy? A massacre.


Italy should have qualified for the 2022 World Cup with no problems at all, but in September 2021 the Nazionale stopped scoring. It did not help that Jorginho missed two decisive penalties against Switzerland either. Italy came second in their group and were forced to a play off against North Macedonia in the semi-finals. They lost 1-0, so there was no World Cup for the second time running.


Despite this incredible debacle, he is still Italy's manager. The Italian Federation, ready to throw his predecessor Gian Piero Ventura, quite rightly, to the lions after missing out on the previous campaign, never doubted Mancini, despite a number of mistakes. We’ll see how it goes in the future.


Lazio career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup

UEFA Cup

UEFA Super Cup

Super Coppa

1997-98

52 (9)

34 (5)

8 (1)

-

-

10 (3)

-

-

1998-99

47 (12)

33 (10)

6 (2)

-

7

-

-

1

1999-00

37 (3)

20

7 (3)

9

-

-

1

-

Total

136 (24)

87 (15)

21 (6)

9

7

10 (3)

1

1

Sources



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