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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Vincenzo D'Amico

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Vincenzo D’Amico was one of the greatest talents in Italian football.


Source Wikipedia

Young hero of the 1973-74 scudetto, he was a player that on a good day could be as good as Pele. He often came to the rescue when Lazio were in difficulty, a true captain. He probably would have deserved more, especially at Nazionale level, but a general ostracism on behalf of selectors never allowed him to help his country. He played as a number 10, but at times also at midfield.


Born in Latina, near Rome, on November 5 1954, he started playing football with Cos Latina youth team and then joined Almas in 1969. He was spotted by Lazio scout and former player Carlo Galli and joined the Biancocelesti in 1970. He was undisciplined, often got into trouble and certainly liked his food, but he was a natural talent. He played in the Primavera team and the reserves championship but suffered a first serious injury which forced him out for a lengthy period.


By the time he debuted professionally on May 21 1971 against Modena, he was already a well-known name among fans. In fact, many went to see that match just to have a first glimpse of Lazio’s Golden Boy, as many called him at the time.


In 1972 he suffered another bad injury which forced him out of action for over a year. After just missing out on the 1972-73 Scudetto, for the next season manager Tommaso Maestrelli selected him for the pre-season training to see if he had fully recovered. He debuted in Serie A on October 14 1973 and from then on basically never left the team.

Maestrelli made sure Vincenzo never got into trouble by confiscating his driver’s licence, limiting his wages, and making sure, via Pino Wilson, that he did not over eat. It worked as D’Amico, at only 19, became one of the protagonists of Lazio’s scudetto.

“You know why Lazio did not win the scudetto in 1973? Because I was not there. As soon as I came into the team Lazio won. That was the difference between those two years”, he often said jokingly, but not too much.

When Giorgio Chinaglia left, he found an attacking partner in Bruno Giordano who thanks to his assists became a lethal goal scorer. With age, D’Amico also became more responsible on the pitch. In 1976, with Lazio very near relegation and without Chinaglia, who had left to play for New York Cosmos, he took the team by the hand and led them to victory against Milan. Lazio stayed in Serie A.


He suffered another serious injury in 1977 which kept him out for most of the season. In 1978 he was sold to Inter but he refused to go and stayed in Rome.

In 1980 Giordano, Lionello Manfredonia, Wilson and Massimo Cacciatori were arrested for match fixing. But there was a game to be played which was fundamental to avoid relegation. D’Amico took a team full of young players under his wing and once again helped them to safety.


Lazio in the end were relegated just the same due to the match fixing punishment. The problem then was that President Umberto Lenzini had sold Giordano and Manfredonia and as a consequence invested heavily in the summer transfer window. But now all the deals were off, so Lazio were forced to sell D’Amico. He signed for Torino replacing Claudio Sala, who had achieved hero status at the club after winning a scudetto in 1975-76.


He personally did not do too badly for Toro, under Ercole Rabitti, but the team was not doing well and the manager was sacked. Then under Romano Cazzaniga he played a lot less and at the end of the season he requested to go back to Lazio.


He returned to a team that had just suffered a huge disappointment. While D’Amico was away the Biancocelesti, with two games to the end of the season, were joint second with Genoa and Cesena on 44 points. Genoa and Cesena won away; Lazio were struggling against Vicenza. In the 90th minute, the Biancocelesti were awarded a penalty. Stefano Chiodi, who had never missed a spot kick in his entire career, kicked the ball out. Lazio stayed in Serie B.


When D'Amico returned the team were in difficulty and a return to Serie A was never a possibility. Far from it, in the last home game against Varese Lazio, had to win to avoid relegation. Trailing two zero after only 15 minutes, D’Amico once again took the team by the hand and with a hat trick allowed Lazio to avoid serious trouble.

In 1982-83, Giordano and Manfredonia returned to play and with D’Amico’s help led Lazio to an agonised promotion. At a certain point however all had seemed lost, but then Lazio managed a late comeback and clinched promotion with a draw in the last game. A memorable moment was D’Amico’s goal against Milan. Lazio were 2-1 down and in the dying minutes Enrico Vella gave a great ball to Vincenzo. His shot hit the crossbar, Milan were unable to clear, ball back to D’Amico who equalised.

The first year in Serie A was not easy. Giorgio Chinaglia had come back as President but Lazio were struggling. Things went from bad to worse. In a match at Ascoli, Giordano broke his leg following a ruthless tackle by Antonio Bogoni (who was not even booked). Lazio only had nine points after the first half of the season. At this point D’Amico and Manfredonia took matters in their own hands and stepped up to lead the team. Lazio managed to avoid relegation in the last match. Unforgettable were his two goals against Roma in the derby which allowed Lazio to draw a game in which they were clear underdogs.


Nobody could do very much in the 1984-85 season. The disastrous decision by Chinaglia to sack Paolo Carosi and call Juan Carlos Lorenzo to manage Lazio was a nail in the coffin for the BIancocelesti's hopes of avoiding relegation. The 1985-86 season was his last year at Lazio. Physical problems limited his appearances to just 12.


In total Vincenzo D’Amico played 338 games for Lazio (201 in Serie A, 75 in Serie B, 55 in Coppa Italia and 7 in the UEFA Cup) and scored 51 goals (25 in Serie A, 15 in Serie B and 11 in Coppa Italia). He is in ninth place as far as number of total appearances for Lazio are concerned, ahead of Cristian Ledesma and behind Luca Marchegiani.

In 1986 he signed for Ternana in Serie C2 and stayed for two seasons before an umpteenth serious injury forced Vincenzo to retire.


Vincenzo D'Amico is first from right kneeling

As far as the Nazionale, D’Amico had a difficult relationship with the Azzurri. He played in the Juniors as a kid, in the Under-23's and the B team. Nnetheless he was never taken into consideration by Enzo Bearzot until he moved to Torino. Then he was called up a couple of times but never got to play. A final argument with Bearzot then ultimately eliminated all future possibilities.


After he stopped playing D’Amico did some scouting for Lazio and managed some amateur teams. His main job however was as commentator for RAI, the state-owned television channel, particularly Serie B.


Death


Vincenzo died in Rome on July 1, 2023. He had been fighting against cancer for the past couple of years and in a post on Facebook on May 7 he had written “they tell me that cancer patients bring out unexpected strengths!!! I’m trying”.


Lazio issued a statement: “President Claudio Lotito and all S.S. Lazio heard with great sadness and deep emotion the news of Vincenzo D'Amico's death, an undisputed protagonist of the 1973/74 Scudetto. Lazio legend and courageous captain in times of difficulty for the Club, Vincenzino, as many have always called him, made fans of different generations fall in love with his magic on the pitch and his infinite attachment to the jersey. D`Amico played for Lazio from 1971 to 1980 and, after a year in Turin, from 1981 to 1986: he never lacked passion, commitment and dedication to the Biancocelesti colours. President Lotito, on behalf of the entire Club, extends his most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. We will never forget you, Vincenzo!”


D’Amico was a Lazio legend. Loved by the fans, his attachment to Lazio in times of trouble was always commendable and he will never be forgotten.


O Captain! My captain!


Lazio career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

1971-72

6 (1)

-

1

5 (1)

-

1973-74

33 (2)

27 (2)

-

6

3

1974-75

30 (1)

26

-

4 (1)

-

1975-76

31 (5)

22 (4)

-

8 (1)

1

1976-77

21 (3)

17 (2)

-

4 (1)

-

1977-78

14 (3)

9 (2)

-

2 (1)

3

1978-79

28 (3)

25 (2)

-

3 (1)

-

1979-80

33 (5)

28 (4)

-

5 (1)

-

1981-82

33 (10)

-

30 (10)

3

-

1982-83

38 (5)

-

34 (4)

4 (1)

-

1983-84

32 (8)

25 (7)

-

5 (1)

-

1984-85

25 (3)

22 (2)

-

3 (1)

-

1985-86

11 (2)

-

10 (1)

1 (1)

-

Total

338 (51)

201 (25)

75 (15)

55 (11)

7

Sources


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