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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

May 6, 1984: Lazio Ascoli 2-1

Updated: May 6

One point to go


Lazio beat Ascoli and now need only one more point in the last game at Pisa to avoid relegation



Source Lazio Wiki

The season so far


The previous year, thanks to the old guard – Bruno Giordano, Lionello Manfredonia and Vincenzo D’Amico – Lazio were able to secure promotion after three years from the harsh and unjust relegation due to the first Calcio Scommesse betting scandal.


During the summer Giorgio Chinaglia, the 1974 Lazio scudetto hero, took over the club. Chinaglia had left the Biancocelesti to play for New York Cosmos in the mid 1970s and his return was all Lazio fans' dream. Claiming to have large sums of money to invest, Long John was welcomed like a Messiah, the one who would take Lazio back to the highest levels.


He confirmed Giancarlo Morrone as manager, and brought in some of his former teammates: Nello Governato as Sporting Director, Felice Pulici as General Manager and Renato Ziaco, the famous team doctor of the 1974 team, back in his former role.


The squad went through a revolution. Thirteen players were sold and the first two Lazio foreign players since the opening to non-Italians were Michael Laudrup, on loan from Juventus, and Brazilian International Joao Batista.


There was great hope, but, with very few exceptions, Lazio were disappointing. In the first 12 games Lazio won three times (including beating Inter 3-0), drew twice and lost all the remaining matches. Morrone was fired, and replaced by Paolo Carosi. But things went from bad to worse. In a match at Ascoli in January, Giordano broke his leg following a ruthless tackle by Antonio Bogoni (who was not even booked). Lazio fell into despair, losing the Ascoli match as well as the next one at home against Pisa.


Lazio had only nine points after the first half of the season. Carosi realised that he had to do something and he put his faith in the players with greater experience. Life without probably one of the best centre forwards in Europe would not be easy and there was no backup plan. At this point D’Amico and Manfredonia took matters into their own hands and stepped up to lead the team.


Lazio started earning points. In the first six games of the second half of the season they beat Genoa and Sampdoria at home and drew against Verona, Inter away (thanks to a Walter Zenga howler) and a dramatic derby 2-2.


Just when things were looking brighter, Lazio faltered again. The last four games became fundamental. Fortunately Giordano came back in record time. The week before the unlucky defeat against Fiorentina, a rumour spread that Lazio’s star player might be on the bench and possibly play the final minutes. Ten thousand fans travelled to Florence (including us!) in the hope of seeing their captain play. He came on with 20 minutes to go and this was the best possible news for Lazio.


The following match against Napoli saw Giordano regain his place in the centre of the Lazio attack. It took him just 30 seconds to score and the Biancocelesti managed to win the game 3-2. There was still hope. But defeat in the next game at Udine meant that Lazio needed three points in the last two games to stay in Serie A.


A win against Ascoli was vital.


The match: Sunday, May 6, 1984, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Before this match the relegation situation was as follows: Catania last on 11 points and relegated, Pisa 21, Genoa and Lazio 22, Avellino and Napoli 24. Ascoli were safe on 29 points and had nothing more to ask from the season.


The stadium was absolutely packed, 60,000 spectators, and it was very hot.


It was an exciting first half. Lazio pressed Ascoli who only had Juary in attack but he was more than enough to keep the Lazio defence in apprehension. On the other hand the Biancocelesti had a few opportunities with Mario Piga, Laudrup, Manfredonia and D’Amico whose shot in the 30th minute was well saved by Luigi Muraro. In the 36th minute there was a free kick for Lazio on the edge of the penalty box on the right. Giordano’s shot was deflected off Enrico Nicolini’s shoulder. The ball went up in the air and flew into the goal. 1-0 for Lazio.


The joy did not last long. Seven minutes later there was a free kick for Ascoli. Giuseppe Greco’s shot hit the wall and reached Walter De Vecchi who shot again. The ball deflected by Giordano beat Nando Orsi.


The results at the end of the first half were not comforting. Pisa and Genoa were drawing, Avellino losing and Napoli winning.


The Biancocelesti came into the second half determined to get the two points. In the 48th minute Giordano received the ball just over the half way line and went forward. Paolo Pochesci managed to intercept but sent it towards the left in the box. Angelo Cupini flew towards the ball and shot. 2-1 for Lazio.


The game was basically over. Ascoli could not be bothered to push themselves and Lazio had no intention of provoking a spark in the Bianconeri. In the last minute though, Ascoli did have a chance with Antonio Dell’Oglio, but Orsi managed to parry.


In the end Pisa lost and Genoa drew. Pisa joined Catania in Serie B, Genoa were on 23 points and Lazio on 24. One point at Pisa would be enough because even if Genoa won, Lazio had the advantage of having beaten the Rossblu at home and drawn away.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Cacciatori, Piscedda, Miele, Marini, Piconi

Manager: Carosi


Who played for Ascoli


L.Muraro, Mandorlini, Citterio, Perrone, Pochesci, Anzivino (68' Dell'Oglio), Novellino, De Vecchi, Juary (53' Borghi), Greco, E.Nicolini.

Substitutes: M.Schiavi, G.Iachini, D.Agostini.

Manager: Mazzone (Colautti was on the bench)


Referee: Barbaresco


Goals: 36’ E. Nicolini (og), 43’ Giordano (og), 48’ Cupini.



What happened next


So Lazio had to draw in the last game against Pisa to stay in Serie A.


Catania and Pisa were already down while Genoa on 23 and Lazio on 24 still had hope. Only one of them would stay up. Genoa had Juventus at home but the Bianconeri had already won and celebrated the league title.


A mass exodus of Lazio fans accompanied the team to Tuscany. The Arena Garibaldi was almost entirely light blue and white.


Things seemed to be looking up when the radios announced Juventus had taken the lead with Antonio Cabrini at Marassi after 7 minutes. Only three minutes later however, Genoa equalised with a Beniamino Vignola own goal. Back to square one until, only a minute later, Bruno-Gol scored for Lazio, with a header from a D'Amico free kick. Half time Pisa 0 Lazio 1 and Genoa 1 Juventus 1; Lazio 26 points, Genoa 24. Things were looking good.


At the beginning of the second half however Pisa equalised with a controversial goal by Danish Klaus Berggreen who seemed to score with his arm. So, 1-1 but Lazio were still safe.


Pisa pushed forward looking to go down with dignity and a win. Luca Birigozzi in the 52nd minute shot over the bar from a favourable position and five minutes later he had the mother of all chances. He found himself with an open goal with only Lazio's Batista on the goal line but somehow managed to get his shot cleared by the Brazilian. One of those chances that are easier to score than miss.


Having seen hell's door opening Lazio turned up the pressure and were rewarded in the 67th minute. Manfredonia was fouled in the area for a clear penalty. Giordano's low spot kick was not impeccable but went under keeper Alessandro Mannini for the 2-1.


Lazio then got a third, but Laudrup had his goal ruled out for offside. Still, going into the last two or three minutes the situation seemed under control, Lazio were winning and Genoa drawing.


Then in the 89th minute Stefano Bosetti scored for Genoa against the Italian Champions, Juventus. No panic, Lazio were still a point ahead. Then in the 90th minute Pisa equalised with Ferruccio Mariani. Lazio 25 points Genoa 25 points.


A very tense few minutes of injury time saw Lazio hold on for their sacred point. Lazio were safe. The decider would not be goal difference (as in UK for example) but the direct matches in the league (0-0 and 2-1 to Lazio). The win over Genoa in January turned out to be a lifesaver for Lazio.


The fans were ecstatic and Chinaglia went down to the pitch to celebrate with the fans. “We will never suffer like this again”, he said. Alas, this was only the beginning of the suffering.


Lazio 1983-84

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

30

8

9

13

35

Coppa Italia

5

1

3

1

3

Total

35

9

12

14

38

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Laudrup

35

30

5

Vinazzani

33

28

5

Spinozzi

32

27

5

Manfredonia

31

26

5

Batista

30

25

5

D'Amico

30

25

5

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Laudrup

8

8

-

D'Amico

8

7

1

Giordano

8

8

-

Manfredonia

4

4

-

Cupini

3

3

-


Let’s talk about Arcadio Spinozzi


Source Wikipedia

I used to play football once. I was pretty terrible (Dag was the phenomenon) but I did my best and my speciality was being the ruthless defender. It was difficult to get past me because I stopped everybody, in one way or another. I was often accused of being worse than Spinozzi. The accusation was theoretically an insult, but for me it was the best possible compliment.


Arcadio Spinozzi is certainly a legend, maybe not so much as quality was concerned, but because he epitomises that ruthless Italian man-to-man marking player. And he sure did it well.


Spinozzi was born in Mosciano Sant’Angelo near Teramo on October 3, 1953. He began his career in the youth teams of Sambenedettese and debuted in 1971-72 in Serie C. He then went on to play for Angolana in Serie D in the 1972-73. After a difficult personal period which lasted three years, he came back in the 1975-76 season and had a couple of successful years in Serie B before his debut with Verona in Serie A, on October 23 1977, against Genoa.


He was a very promising defender and many clubs had set eyes on him including Inter who looked as if they would be his new destination at the end of the 1978-79 season after Verona were relegated. Instead he signed for Bologna where he stayed a year before arriving in Rome to play for Lazio in the summer of 1980


He was unlucky. Spinozzi’s time with the Biancocelesti coincided with the worst decade in Lazio's history. Three days after his arrival, Lazio were relegated to Serie B for the Totonero scandal.


His first year at Lazio however started well. The Biancocelesti had one of the best teams in Serie B and were favourites for promotion. But there were problems. Internal battles between Luciano Moggi, at the time General Director, and Antonio Sbardella, former referee who had been one the most important figures at the club in the 1970s. All this created havoc at club level. There was no money, the players were not being paid, but the people managing the club used the media to put all the blame on the players when things were not going well. The psychological pressure of having to perform despite the chaos at managerial level took its toll and the team started to collapse. They managed a comeback towards the end of the season, but a missed penalty by Stefano Chiodi in the last home match against Vicenza meant that Lazio had to stay another year in Serie B. Spinozzi himself played quite a lot that season but it was a huge disappointment.


The next season was also pretty disastrous. Never in contention for promotion, the team suffered from the chaos in the club. Chinaglia was forced to back down as President and the new owner, Franco Chimenti, could not sustain the financial commitment alone. In the end, Lazio, on the verge of bankruptcy, changed hands and the Calleri Brothers, Giorgio and Gian Marco, together with entrepreneur Renato Bocchi, took over the club. Lazio managed to avoid a shock relegation also thanks to Spinozzi.


In the end it took Lazio three years to get back to Serie A thanks to the fact that, due to a two year amnesty following Italy's 1982 World Cup triumph, Bruno Giordano and Lionello Manfredonia were allowed back to play after having been suspended for the Totonero scandal. Spinozzi played less than usual due to injuries and a difficult relationship with manager Roberto Clagluna.


The return of Giorgio Chinaglia who bought the club in 1983, then gave renewed hope for the future. After a very difficult first year where Lazio avoided relegation in the last match, things precipitated with the arrival of a new manager, Juan Carlos Lorenzo, after a few games of the following season.


Juan Carlos Lorenzo had been Lazio manager when Chinaglia joined and he was very fond of him. However, Lorenzo was past his prime as far as managerial style was concerned. His third stint with Lazio was almost farcical. In his book, in collaboration with journalist Stefano Greco, Spinozzi lists a number of his “exploits”. Daniele Filisetti was forced to lose 5 kilos in a week because Lorenzo wanted him to be of the same weight as Trevor Francis who he had to mark in the next game. Filisetti fainted after the end of the first half. He was very superstitious to the point of insanity. He got the players to train running after chickens. Once he told Giordano that when there was a free kick, he was supposed to go to the men in the wall and insult them. The plan was to get them agitated so that the wall would open and increase the chances of scoring. He also ordered Giordano to never shoot from outside the box again. There were many more. Spinozzi had the habit of keeping a diary so the book was an extensive list of the crazy things Lorenzo did. As a consequence Lazio were relegated despite having a squad with Micheal Laudrup, Bruno Giordano, Lionello Manfredonia, Joao Batista and Vincenzo D’Amico. Spinozzi hardly played at all that year despite having been a regular in the previous season. Problems with the manager and injuries limited his games to only 9.


Spina continued to play for Lazio but the injuries continued and he could not give a valid contribution. At the end of his contract he left and signed for Reggina in Serie C1 were he played his last professional year. At Lazio he played 36 games in Serie A, 73 in Serie B and 9 in Coppa Italia with one goal.


He became a manager and coached the Udinese primavera team from 1992 to 1995. He also worked for Juventus as a talent scout. In 1999 he was assistant to Vujadin Boskov at Perugia and even had an experience in Ghana.


Among the many things that have happened to Spinozzi in his life two things stand out more than others.


On April 15, 1978, the entire Verona team was forced to travel via train to Rome for the game against Roma after their flight had been cancelled due to bad weather. They were all in the first carriage, but had moved to the centre of the train for lunch. That saved their lives. There was a ravine, the train derailed and a few seconds later a second train crashed into it. There were 42 dead and 72 injured people. The restaurant car was one of the ones that suffered less damage so Spinozzi and the Verona team managed to escape the disaster. Just because they had booked the first lunch shift.


The second event was comically tragic. On the eve of the first derby when Lazio returned to Serie A, an anonymous letter arrived at the press agency Ansa implying a direct involvement of Spinozzi in the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.


Emanuela Orlandi was a 15-year-old girl who disappeared on June 22 1983. She was the daughter of a Vatican City employee. She has never been found. There have been constant rumours over the years of the involvement of secret services, international terrorist groups, links to the attempted murder of Pope John Paul II, organised crime. Nobody knows what happened to her.


“Why don’t you interrogate the Lazio football player Spinozzi? He knew Emanuela, he gave her to us and supplied the first hideout”. This anonymous note was sent from Bari. It was obviously a hoax, but there were three more notes sent in the next three weeks. This fact created enormous pressure on the player but also on the team, the families and the club. Why? What was the point? And who sent the notes?


Whoever sent the notes had a deep knowledge of Lazio since in the successive letters two minor figures of the club were mentioned. At the time there was no internet so info came mainly via the media and if you were not mentioned in the papers there was no way you’d be known. Unless you had previously worked for Lazio.


In recent years Spinozzi has fought big battles against the football system, denouncing Gea World, the group that up to 2013 acted as agent for many players. Gea is managed by Luciano Moggi’s son, Alessandro. Moggi father was general Director of Juventus from 1994 to 2006, until the Calciopoli refereeing scandal exploded. Calciopoli was a vast refereeing lobby scandal. Spinozzi, who had never had a good relationship with Moggi right from his time at Lazio, accused Gea of criminal conspiracy but in the end nothing happened because the crimes ended up being statute barred.


Spinozzi has written two books. His first “Le facce del Pallone” denounced what was happening in Italian football at the time, years before the Calciopoli scandal erupted. The second “Vite da Lazio” on his Lazio experience. The book is at times comical and at times tragically sad for a supporter like me who was only a kid in the 80s and had no idea of what was happening behind the scenes.


The Lazio fans will always be very fond of Spinozzi and they have shown their affection many times over the years.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

1980-81

35 (1)

-

31

4 (1)

1981-82

29

-

29

-

1982-83

14

-

14

-

1983-84

32

27

-

5

1984-85

9

9

-

-

1985-86

13

-

13

-

Total

132 (1)

36

87

9 (1)

Sources


Arcadio Spinozzi & Stefano Greco. Una vita da Lazio. Ultra Spot 2012

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