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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Roberto Cravero

Roberto Cravero was born in Venaria Reale (Turin), on January 3, 1964.


He grew up in the Torino youth sector. He made his first team debut at 18 on May 16, 1982. The following year, however, he made no appearances and so in the summer of 1983 he was loaned to Cesena in Serie B.


He played two seasons in Romagna and played 67 games with 5 goals. In 1985 he returned to Torino in Serie A.


In his first season back he made a total of 19 appearances (8 in Serie A, 5 in Coppa Italia and 2 in the UEFA Cup). From the 1986-87 season Cravero became first choice "libero" for the Granata under Gigi Radice and played 28 league games and scored 3 goals (Fiorentina, Udinese and a late equaliser in the derby), plus 6 in Coppa Italia and 8 in the Uefa Cup.


Over the next two seasons Cravero made 58 league appearances under Radice (plus a UEFA place play-off) and 18 in Coppa Italia. He scored 6 league goals (Verona, Inter, Cesena, Atalanta, Lazio, Napoli). Unfortunately Torino were relegated that year and Cravero, by then captain, followed Toro down to Serie B.


Torino came straight up again winning Serie B under Eugenio Fascetti, Cravero played 34 league games with 6 goals (Padova, Cagliari, Avellino, Catanzaro, Cosenza, Messina) and 1 game in Coppa Italia.

Back in Serie A in 1990-91, under Emiliano Mondonico, he played 30 league games with one goal (Pisa), plus 6 in Coppa Italia (1 goal vs Verona) and 1 game in the Mitropa Cup. The club had a good season finishing 5th (UEFA place) and winning the Mitropa Cup (European tournament for second division winners).


The next season, 1991-92 would be his last for now in Turin, but it was an excellent one. Torino came third in the league and were runners-up in the UEFA Cup, losing to Ajax on away goals in the final (Torino had knocked out Real Madrid in the Semis). Cravero made 24 league appearances with 1 goal (Bari), 4 in Coppa Italia and 10 in the great European run.


In the summer of 1992 he signed for Lazio for 7.5 billion Lire (approx 3.8 million Euros). Lazio’s new ambitious owner Cragnotti was trying to build a competitive team and Cravero was chosen as an experienced, reliable "libero". Other players arriving at the same time as Cravero included Paul Gascoigne, Aron Winter, Beppe Signori, Giuseppe Favalli and Diego Fuser.


In his first year at Lazio, under Dino Zoff, he played 30 Serie A games with 3 goals (Juventus, Parma, Ancona) plus 4 games in Coppa Italia. Lazio finished 5th and qualified for the UEFA Cup.


In 1993-94, again under manager Dino Zoff, he played 29 league games and scored 5 goals (Parma, Cagliari, Reggiana, Cremonese, Lecce), 1 game in Coppa Italia and 2 in the UEFA Cup with 2 goals (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, home and away). Lazio had a good season finishing 4th, so back into the UEFA Cup.


The following year 1994-95 saw the arrival of Zdenek Zeman, with new ideas and philosophy of play. Cravero played slightly less, making 23 league appearances with 2 goals (Inter, Fiorentina), 7 in Coppa Italia with 2 goals (Piacenza, home and away) and 7 in the UEFA Cup with 1 goal (Trabzonspor). Lazio had a very good season finishing second in Serie A (behind Juventus), reaching the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup (went out on an unlucky night in Dortmund) and the semi-final of Coppa Italia (Juventus). This however was Cravero's last season with Lazio. He would make one more summer appearance in a Coppa Italia game before returning home to Torino.


He played three more seasons in Turin, the first in Serie A and the next two in Serie B. He made another 41 league appearances plus 3 in Coppa Italia. Unfortunately, he could not retire taking Torino back to Serie A as they lost the promotion play-off on penalties (Cravero scored his) against Perugia.


He retired after 301 competitive games for Torino, many as captain, and 18 goals. A club legend.


At Lazio he did not achieve the same status but was highly respected and had a good three seasons in Rome. He played a total of 104 games for the Biancocelesti and scored 15 goals (more than some of the strikers they have had).


At International level he participated in the European Championships of 1988 in the Italy squad but did not play any matches. He took part in the Italian Olympic team in Seoul 1988 and also played 12 games for Italy U21's.


Cravero was an excellent club player. He was a classic "libero" sweeper. He had good technique, was a superb tackler and had impeccable timing and sense of position. Despite not being a giant at 1.78 he had good aerial play, confirmed by his many goals from headers. He was a calm, collected player but with a certain authority about him, perfect captaincy material. He was also a reliable penalty taker usually sending the keeper the wrong way. He is remembered positively at Lazio as a solid, classy defender. He is associated with the beginning of the good times with owner Sergio Cragnotti and was part of the crazy "Gazza years" when Lazio were suddenly back on the world map.


After retiring Cravero worked as Torino team manager until 2000 and then as Torino Sports Director between 2003-05. He now works in punditry and is one of the most important and respected Mediaset technical commentators for Champions League and Coppa Italia.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

1992-93

34 (3)

30 (3)

4

-

1993-94

32 (7)

29 (5)

1

2 (2)

1994-95

37 (5)

23 (2)

7 (2)

7 (1)

July-Sep 1995

1

-

1

-

Total

104 (15)

82 (10)

13 (2)

9 (3)

Sources


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