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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Renzo Garlaschelli

Updated: Aug 7, 2023


Source Wikipedia

Renzo Garlaschelli was born on March 29, 1950, in Vidigulfo, half way between Pavia and Milan. It is a small village of 3,000 souls, often covered in thick fog, where they live growing rice, maize or grazing cows. A land of farmers, the alternative being to move towards Milan to a factory, which is what Garlaschelli's father did, finding work in a paper mill.


Renzo Garlaschelli started playing for his home village team before joining Sant'Angelo Lodigiano in Serie D, where he played 32 games and scored 6 goals. At 18, like all boys of his age, he was called up for the year of compulsory military service. He was terrified of being sent far from home, especially down South, so luckily for him the option of joining Como in Serie B came up, enabling him to get off doing a lighter stint in the army not far from home. At Como he played for 3 years making 72 appearances, scoring 6 goals and narrowly missing out on promotion in 1971-72.


In the summer of 1972, while on holiday at the sea, he received a call from Como informing him he was to be sold to Brindisi, in Puglia. Garlaschelli's reaction was to refuse, saying he would rather retire than be sent to play in the deep South. It was only at this point that the director told him it was all a joke, and that in reality he had been sold to Lazio in Serie A, and was now heading for the capital.


Prior to his definite move to Rome, he met Lazio manager Tommaso Maestrelli and club director Antonio Sbardella, who both warned young Renzo of the “temptations and distractions” Rome could bring. It was all in vain however. In the capital Garlaschelli would live the good life, especially at night… He became known as the Dandy, a snappy dresser, a regular face in the nightclubs and definitely a ladies man. He would later claim that in the 10 years he lived in Rome he never once had an evening meal at home. Despite his lifestyle however, he trained hard and Maestrelli turned a blind eye on his nocturnal off- pitch antics as long as he performed well on it. In fact, he proved to be an ideal attacking partner for “Long John” Giorgio Chinaglia, the Lazio centre-forward. A larger than life character, Chinaglia, brought up in South Wales, gave Renzo one piece of advice, “Garla, give me the ball and I'll score”.


Garlaschelli's early years at Lazio were a great success. He was an attacking winger with great speed, agility, dribbling skills and had a good cross. He soon became a permanent first XI choice. In the 1972-73 season he only missed one match, scoring 7 goals with Lazio going very close to winning the title.


In 1973-74 he did even better, again only missing one match (the last against Bologna), scoring 10 goals. In the penultimate and decisive game of the season Lazio were one win away from the scudetto and played Foggia - who were desperately battling against relegation - at the Olimpico. It was Garlaschelli who procured the penalty, which Chinaglia scored to put Lazio 1-0 up. The Foggia players then targeted Garlaschelli, who eventually retaliated and got himself sent off. With 10 men and with Gigi Martini stoically playing on with a broken shoulder, Lazio managed to cling on and conquer their first historic league title. In the post-match celebrations Maestrelli hugged Garlaschelli warmly, but added "Garla, you got off lightly today".


After the glory years of the scudetto, luck turned its back on Lazio. Manager and father figure Tommaso Maestrelli became ill and died in 1976. Midfield dynamo Luciano Re Cecconi was killed in a prank, which tragically ended with him being shot dead. In the meantime, midfield playmaker Mario Frustalupi (the wonderfully named "Wolfwhipper" or "Wolfthrasher") and central defender Giancarlo Oddi had been sold to Cesena in 1975. A year later in the spring of 1976, star goal scorer and charismatic leader Chinaglia, with his American wife, left to play for New York Cosmos.


Garlaschelli stayed however, alongside captain Pino Wilson and Vincenzo D'Amico. He stayed on but the 1981-82 was to be his last for Lazio after a dismal 11th place in Serie B (Lazio had been relegated due to the betting Scandal of 1980). He played 279 times for Lazio (199 in Serie A, 29 in Serie B, 38 in Coppa Italia, 10 in the UEFA Cup and 3 in the Intertoto Cup), scoring 67 goals (49 in Serie A, 2 in Serie B, 9 in Coppa Italia, 4 in the UEFA Cup and 3 in the Intertoto Cup).


After Lazio, despite some offers from medium level teams, he decided to return home to Pavia in C2. He went back to his family home and played 2 more years (46 appearances and 11 goals). Pavia was promoted to Serie C1 in Garlaschelli’s last professional season.


He then retired and, after his parents passed away, sold his family home and bought a smaller one with his sister. For many years he completely cut himself off from football. He spent his days playing cards in his village, cycling and reading. A far cry from his lively and eventful Roman days.


Today Garlaschelli still lives his quiet life in the provinces, but he has rekindled an interest in football and especially Lazio. He now collaborates daily as a pundit with a Roman radio station that talks exclusively about Lazio, the highlight of his career and life.


Garlaschelli is probably one of the best Lazio players never to have played for Italy, but he certainly played a major role in the 1973-74 league triumph. His ability to open up space and to play for Chinaglia was fundamental but he also contributed with 10 goals of his own. He will always be remembered as part of that unrivalled and magical team whose line-up any self-respecting laziale can reel off in their sleep!


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Intertoto Cup

1972-73

33 (7)

29 (7)

-

4

-

-

1973-74

38 (14)

29 (10)

-

5 (2)

4 (2)

-

1974-75

26 (6)

23 (6)

-

3

-

-

1975-76

36 (9)

29 (7)

-

5 (2)

2

-

1976-77

27 (5)

23 (5)

-

4

-

-

1977-78

35 (12)

26 (7)

-

2

4 (2)

3 (3)

1978-79

23 (5)

17 (5)

-

6

-

-

1979-80

27 (5)

23 (2)

-

4 (3)

-

-

1980-81

31 (4)

-

26 (2)

5 (2)

-

-

1981-82

3

-

3

-

-

-

Total

279 (67)

199 (49)

29 (2)

38 (9)

10 (4)

3 (3)

Sources


Guy Chiappaventi, Pistole e palloni: 12 maggio 1974: il primo scudetto della Lazio nel cuore degli anni Settanta, Ultra Sport



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