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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

November 28, 1976: Lazio Roma 1-0

A win for Maestrelli

 

A fantastic goal by Giordano plus a number of Pulici miracles give Lazio a precious win in the derby




Source Wikipedia

The season so far

 

The previous season Lazio had avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. Needing at least a draw in the last match of the season at Como, the Biancocelesti fell behind 2-0 after just 15 minutes. But then two goals, by Bruno Giordano and Roberto Badiani, gave them the vital point.

 

Lazio had started with Giulio Corsini as manager but following problems with the team, and Giorgio Chinaglia in particular, he was sacked and replaced by Tommaso Maestrelli. The maestro had been diagnosed with cancer in 1975, but apparently a new treatment had cured him and he was able to go back to his job. He however got worse towards the end of the season so President Umberto Lenzini was forced to make a change. Maestrelli stayed as Technical Director.

 

Brazilian Luis Vinicio was chosen. Vinicio had been manager at Napoli and he was the first in Italy to play the Dutch "Zona" (new deal) style of football, thus breaking away from the traditional man to man marking. Especially from his second year, with the arrival of defender Tarcisio Burgnich, Vinicio played the "total football" way. A revolution in Italy.

 

Lenzini, Maestrelli and Vinicio decided to avoid risks and to choose players that could adapt to the new style of play. In came second goalkeeper Claudio Garella (Novara), defender Dario Pighin (Palermo) and forward Renzo Rossi (Como). Also returning was midfielder Fernando Viola from his loan to Cagliari.

 

Lazio also scored a coup and signed the Roma captain Ciccio Cordova. Cordova in 1972 became Roma captain and was one of the more popular players, but he was linked to the past president Alvaro Marchini (he had married Marchini’s daughter Simona) and never got on with the new one, Gaetano Anzalone. After a disappointing 1975-76 season, Anzalone decided to get rid of the old players and start from scratch with a new, younger and more motivated team. Cordova was up for sale after 285 games for the Giallorossi in nine years. Anzalone sold him to Verona without saying anything to the player during the negotiations. Ciccio, heartbroken, felt betrayed by the club he supported and broke his contract with Rome thus becoming a free agent.


Nobody was interested in signing him and he risked having to quit football at 32. He really wanted to stay in Rome, so when Lazio knocked at  his door, he took the opportunity and signed for the Biancocelesti. With this move he continued to play football, in the city he loved, and could be a thorn in Anzalone’s side. Perfect. Lazio had been looking for a playmaker ever since they disastrously sold Mario Frustalupi and Cordova was their ideal player. Not everybody at Lazio was happy, especially Luciano Re Cecconi, but the fans accepted him immediately.

 

In the first six games the Biancocelesti had done well and were fourth. Vinicio had introduced a few young players in the squad: Giordano, who had played well the previous year in Serie A with and in place of Chinaglia, Lionello Manfredonia and Andrea Agostinelli.

 

During the week the team had visited Maestrelli in hospital. The cancer had come back and the maestro was getting worse. But he promised he would be in the stands on Sunday for the derby.

 

The match: Sunday November 28, 1976, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

 

Roma started the game aggressively and crushed Lazio in their own half. Despite missing Francesco Rocca, Franco Peccenini and Pierino Prati, they attacked right from the word go. Luis Vinicio had changed the team tactics and relied on man-to-man marking rather than zonal play. 

 

In the 11th minute Bruno Conti missed an easy chance, then Felice Pulici seven minutes later did not allow Giuliano Musiello to shoot so Manfredonia was able to clear. After another missed Conti chance, Pulici managed to save two consecutive shots by Agostino DI Bartolomei and Stefano Pellegrini. The Giallorossi continued with their assault. Corner after corner, cross after cross but they simply could not beat Pulici. Another fantastic save came on a Pellegrini header after a Conti cross.

 

The Biancocelesti relied on the counter attack and Renzo Garlaschelli had a good opportunity but his shot went too high. In the 40th minute Roberto Badiani crossed into the box, Garlaschelli managed to head the ball to Giordano on the left. The Lazio centre-forward dribbled past Mauro Sandreani and Paolo Conti came out of the goal to face him, thinking that Giordano would logically pass to a better positioned Garlaschelli. Instead Bruno-gol shot at goal from an impossible angle. Lazio 1 Roma 0.

 

The Giallorossi had not deserved to be behind and lost a bit of momentum. The Biancocelesti realised that it was an “off” day and decided to slow down the pace and let time tick away. The second half was much more balanced but Roma went close to an equaliser a few times. Domenico Maggiora missed an easy chance in the 64th minute after another splendid Pulici save on a Pellegrini shot. Another incredible save then came on a Giancarlo De Sisti whack from outside the box. Walter Sabatini too had a chance towards the end of the game but he squandered it.

 

Lazio won the game, undeservedly, but who cares!!! Pulici was unbeatable and played the best game of his life.

 

Who played for Lazio

 

Substitutes: Garella, Pighin

Manager: Vinicio

 

Who played for Roma

 

Conti P., Maggiora, Sandreani (77’ Sabatini), Boni, Santarini, Menichini, Conti B., Di Bartolomei, Musiello, De Sisti, Pellegrini

Substitutes: Quintini, Chinellato

Manager: Liedholm

 

Referee: Michelotti

 

Goal: 40’ Giordano

 

What happened next

 

On December 4 Maestrelli died. The Biancoceleste derby win was the last present his boys were able to give him. Furthermore, on January 18 Luciano Re Cecconi was shot by a jeweller as he walked into his shop. He was only 28 years of age.

 

Despite all this the season was a great one on the pitch and Lazio surprised everybody by arriving fifth and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. A young team with experienced players too, a great cocktail that worked well.

 

Three players had the most appearances this season: Badiani, Cordova and Pulici (34). Top scorer was Giordano with 13 goals overall.


Lazio 1976-77

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

30

10

11

9

34

Coppa Italia

4

2

-

2

8

Total

34

12

11

11

42

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Cordova

34

30

4

Badiani

34

30

4

Pulici

34

30

4

Ammoniaci

33

29

4

Wilson

33

29

4

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Giordano

13

10

3

Garlaschelli

5

5

-

Rossi

4

4

-

Martini

3

3

-

Cordova

3

2

1

D'Amico

3

2

1

Let's talk about Felice Pulici


Source Wikipedia

Lazio have the fortune to have had some legendary goalkeepers: Bob Lovati, Ezio Sclavi, Idilio Cei, Lucidio Sentimenti IV, and more recently Angelo Peruzzi and Luca Marchegiani. But with all the due respect for all of these legends, Felice Pulici stands out as probably the best keeper the Biancocelesti have ever had.

 

Felice Mosè Pulici was born in Soviaco near Milan on December 22, 1945. He first started playing in the local parish until Lecco asked him to join their youth teams. He went through all of the various levels and debuted in Serie B on September 17, 1967 in Genoa Lecco. That season he made three appearances and the next one he signed for Novara in Serie C. He stayed there for four seasons, the first two in the third tier and the other couple in Serie B. In the latter two, he played all of the games. 

 

In his first encounter with Lazio, the Biancocelesti gracefully allowed him to pick up five goals from the back of the net. But in the return match his saves allowed Novara to beat Lazio 1-0.

 

In 1973 he moved to Rome. The fans were rather puzzled since when they had seen him he had not made such a good impression. Furthermore, he came to substitute Claudio Bandoni, one of the heroes of the swift return to Serie A. But this was Tommaso Maestrelli’s will and so be it.

 

After the pre-season training he went to live in the Parioli area together with Luciano Re Cecconi and Mario Frustalupi. The start of his career with Lazio was terrible. Loss to Napoli, 0-0 at Palermo, loss to Brindisi (Serie B), loss at home to Taranto (Serie B). Lots of criticism, at one point there were rumours that Lazio would sell him in the November transfer window. But he had the unconditional support of the manager, so he stayed. And Lazio started flying. In the entire 1972-73 season Lazio conceded just 16 goals and fought for the scudetto right until the last minute of the match in Naples. 

 

At half time Lazio were drawing at Napoli and had a potential 44 points, Milan were losing at Verona and had 44 points, Juventus were losing against Roma and were on 43 points. But Napoli fought as if their lives depended on a win and beat Lazio in the final minutes, Juventus overturned the match, after the Roma players basically stopped playing, and Milan collapsed. Lazio came third. The feeling was that the ship of glory had set sail leaving Lazio behind and would not be coming back.

 

The 1973-74 season was a triumph. Pulici was a very solid goalkeeper and always did the right thing at the right time, giving his defence team mates a lot of tranquillity. Mind you, Giancarlo Oddi and Pino Wilson were probably the best Serie A defensive duo. On May 12, 1974, Lazio beat Foggia with a Giorgio Chinaglia penalty and won the scudetto. But Pulici was not present that evening for the celebrations. He went home because that same day his second child Gabriele Pulici was born. He thought he would have been chosen to go to the World Cup, but Luciano Castellini was preferred. He obviously could not compete with legends Dino Zoff and Enrico Albertosi, but  he thought he had a chance, at least as third keeper.


Official SS Lazio photo

The 1974-75 season was going decently. Lazio were not the unstoppable team they had been the previous years, but despite two derbies losses, after 24 games they were third together with Roma, two points off Napoli second, and four from leaders Juventus. Then however came the announcement: Maestrelli had cancer. The Biancocelesti collapsed 5-1 at home against Torino. Wilson in his biography wrote that at a certain point he asked Oddo “how many have they scored, 4?”, “No Captain, it's five”. The players were like zombies on the field. In the end they came fourth, but they knew things were never going to be the same again.


Official SS Lazio photo

President Umberto Lenzini was forced to change managers and chose Giulio Corsini. The new head coach decided he was going to change the team, so off went Oddi and Frustalupi. Furthermore, he wanted to fight Chinaglia to death. He did not last long and after seven matches he was sacked. Back came Maestrelli, apparently completely recovered. The Biancocelesti were in deep trouble most of the season but thanks to a 4-0 win against Milan in the last home game of the season and a draw at Como despite being 0-2 down after just 15 minutes, Serie B was avoided. Earlier, in April, Chinaglia had left to join New York Cosmos.

 

For the next season Luis Vinicio was the new manager. Homegrown Bruno Giordano, who had been one of the protagonists the previous season, Andrea Agostinelli and Lionello Manfredonia, together with some of the scudetto heroes plus some quality and experienced players, allowed Lazio to reach an unexpected UEFA Cup qualification. But that season was marred by tragedy. Maestrelli got worse and the week before the derby, the team had been to see him and they knew his time was up.

 

On Sunday in the derby Giordano scored and then the team just stopped to watch as the Roma forwards shot from all angles but there was nothing they could do. In an article I found online, the title reads “Felice Pulici and the Derby in which he even stopped the air”. He saved everything possible. He said “I was convinced that Maestrelli was in the stands watching so I wanted to dedicate the win to him”. But the Maestro was not there. In another interview, Pulici said that that day he felt a superhuman strength, as if something was lifting him to heights that were humanly impossible. Four days later Maestrelli died. On January 18, 1977, Luciano Re Cecconi was shot and killed. Pulici was the only one who had the courage to go and see his corpse.

 

At the beginning of the 1977-78 season, Vinicio told Pulici that Claudio Garella would be the new goalkeeper. He suffered in silence in the beginning but then decided to leave. He preferred to play in Serie B with Monza rather than stay on the bench with a manager who did not rate him.

 

Monza almost got promoted, missing out on Serie A by just a couple of points. In 1978 he signed for Ascoli in Serie A. Three excellent seasons in which they even qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1979-80. After the 1980-81 season the club decided to choose a younger player so he went back to Lazio for a final season. Initially he was supposed to be number 12, but he was promoted and made 17 appearances. His last game for Lazio was on March 14 1982.

 

Once he stopped playing he immediately joined the Primavera staff and was even manager when Giancarlo Morrone was promoted to the first team. In the meantime, he got his degree in law. 


When Chinaglia became president of the club, Pulici was chosen as General Director. He then stayed at the club in various roles and in 1992 he was responsible for the youth sector as well as being the club’s lawyer. Claudio Lotito made him a member of the general secretariat and when the President was suspended, Pulici had the power of attorney. 

 

In December 2006 he returned to Ascoli as general director and stayed until March 2007. Later on, he was also Federal Secretary of the Italian Sport Federation for the impaired of hearing.

 

Pulici died on December 16, 2018.

 

He made 200 appearances for Lazio: 150 in Serie A, 17 in Serie B, 24 in Coppa Italia, 7 in the UEFA Cup and 2 in the Anglo-Italian Cup.

 

He was a great goalkeeper and a wonderful person. And despite the fact that he did not grow up in Rome, he was in love with Lazio. 

 

“Lazio gets inside you, it captures you, it chooses you”, he used to say.

 

Grazie Felice.


Lazio Career

Season

Total games

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Anglo Italian Cup

1972-73

36

30

-

4

-

2

1973-74

39

30

-

5

4

-

1974-75

34

30

-

4

-

-

1975-76

42

30

-

9

3

-

1976-77

34

30

-

4

-

-

1977-78

2

-

-

2

-

-

1981-82

17

-

17

-

-

-

Total

200

150

17

24

7

2

Sources



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