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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Sante Ancherani

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Sante Ancherani was a football pioneer and the first captain of Lazio. A mythical and legendary figure, part of those early Lazio years when football was only just born in the capital of Italy.


Source Wikipedia

Born in Cotignola, near Ravenna on September 6 1882, at the age of four his family moved to Rome. He was first noticed by a group of early members of the Società Podistica Lazio in February 1900. He ran like the wind and never stopped. They even timed him on the 100 metres: 13.8 seconds, a great time for the period. “Perhaps we made a mistake, shall we time him again?” 13 seconds flat. He was immediately made a member of Lazio and held the membership card number 6.


Football was an unknown sport at the time. Some British sailors in Genoa and Palermo had just started to play and elsewhere in the country there were some Scottish seminarians, in Italy for study, who started to teach the game. There was a national championship, but it was limited to teams from Liguria and Piedmont. In January 1901 Bruto Seghettini arrived in the Lazio offices of Via Valadier 21 asking if anybody played football. Nobody knew what he was talking about so Bruto produced a ball and this is when football was introduced to the capital.


Ancherani fell in love with the new game immediately and tried to convince others at Lazio to play. The early pioneers played amongst themselves in the fields behind Piazza della Libertà using military boots, extremely handy for kicking the ball. Sometimes carriages stopped to have a look at those lads running after a ball.


The first matches were organised and legend has it that Lazio lost their first game against the Scots college 11-0 (a college for student priests). But the kids were not giving up. Ancherani went to the UK and came back with a pair of football boots. He went to a shoemaker he knew who studied these boots and reproduced them for the team. Meanwhile, there was a schism in Lazio and a group of people formed Virtus. Now Lazio could compete with another team, so they trained hard. The first game was played on May 15 1904 at Piazza d’Armi, Lazio won 3-0 and Ancherani scored all three goals.


Santino also played the trumpet and was very good at it and joined the city band.


During the years football began to increase in popularity and Lazio were the strongest team in the capital. They were invited to play in Tuscany in 1908 for the Pisa Interregional Tournament which they won, beating three teams in a single day.


He was centre forward, captain and, in the early days, also manager.


Ancherani continued to play football for as long as he could even though it was difficult due to his day job. When the First World War broke out he was called to the army and joined the front in the 27th Pavia Regiment on July 10 1916. He was on the front line for two years, probably part of some military band.


Back in Rome after the war, he opened a sports shop and literally supplied all the footballs and kits for the capital. He never missed a Lazio game and was a great Silvio Piola fan. He was able to see Lazio win their first silverware with the 1958 Coppa Italia.


Sante Ancherani died on September 9, 1971 at 89 years of age. He would have loved the 1973-74 squad that won the scudetto, but alas, that was not to be.


Apart from the Pisa tournament, with Lazio he won the first Roman championship of 1907 and the Third Category Lazio Championship three times (1909-10, 1910-11 and 1911-12).


He was the father of football in the capital and always held on to his No. 6 membership card. A Laziale for life.


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