The last thing Sinisa Mihajlovic would want is to be commiserated. That’s exactly what the Bologna manager said during Saturday’s press conference where he announced he was diagnosed with leukemia. And so, rather than going along the line that the disease picked a tough one to mess with, we will make it evident by taking a look at his 30-year-spanning career.
The starting grid for the upcoming Serie A season will look familiar to the most aficionado fans of Italian football, as the elevator from the second division sent back three clubs with a remarkable history in the top level of calcio. Brescia, Lecce, and Verona won a ticket to the big show at the end of a tormented Serie B season.
Alvaro Recoba’s first Serie A season perfectly summarized the future career of a player whose talent was equaled only by his indolence. El Chino tallied just three goals that year, but the one he scored to Empoli on January 25th, 1998 – a deadly left-foot lob from his midfield line (!) – instantly gained a spot into Inter’s hall of fame.
In a month of May that is reshaping the geography of Serie A, Juventus decided to part ways with Massimiliano Allegri. The separation between the league title holders and their winning coach was made official yesterday in a sober press conference. Allegri leaves Juventus after five years in which he won five Scudetto, four Coppa Italia, and two Supercups.
They called him Capitan Futuro (“Captain Future”), as Daniele De Rossi was meant to be Roma’s new captain after Francesco Totti’s retirement. But he ended up wearing the Giallorossi captain band for two years only, as the club’s board communicated today their decision not to renew the 35-year-old midfielder’s contract for the next season.
The 2005-2006 season was the last for Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Juventus. Ibra had moved to the Bianconeri one year earlier, and even if his second season in Turin was far less impressive than the debut one, he still found the way to show dazzling glimpses of his talent – like the magic trick that helped Juventus trample Roma 4-1.
All is fair in love, war, and the Derby of Turin. In what became known as the derby of “Maspero’s hole,” not only did Torino midfielder Riccardo Maspero grab a late equaliser to set the score to 3-3, but he also prevented Juventus from snatching a late win by sabotaging the penalty kick spot and causing Marcelo Salas to miss his shot.
Records are set to be broken, even the oldest ones. In the last round of the 2015-16 Serie A season, Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli delivered a hat-trick to poor Frosinone to bring his seasonal tally to an astonishing 36 goals – one more than the legendary Gunnar Nordahl, setting a new Italian record for the most goals scored in a single season.
On November 11, 1995, Parma received Fabio Capello’s Milan, an invincible armada which had won three Scudetto in the previous four years. The Ducali’s starting goalkeeper was injured, but rather than resorting to his second in command, coach Nevio Scala decided to deploy an unknown 17-year-old boy. That’s how the legend of Gianluigi Buffon was born.
Fabio Quagliarella was in his athletic prime when in 2009 he signed a dream deal to play for his hometown club Napoli. But his honeymoon would last only one year, as the following summer he abruptly moved to Juventus. The reality behind his transfer would emerge only years later, when he could finally reveal that he had to leave Napoli due to a stalker.
On May 5th, 2002, three teams were still battling for the Scudetto with only 90 minutes to go. Inter, leading the ranks with 69 points, were due to play Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. It was supposed to be an easy win for the Nerazzurri, in view of their long-lasting friendship with the Roman side. But Lazio’s midfielder Karel Poborsky had a different idea…
When they met for their second Derby di Milano in the 1981-82 season, Inter and Milan were facing two opposite situations. With 10 games left, the Nerazzurri were only four points behind the leading duo Fiorentina-Juventus. Milan, on the other hand, lied in the penultimate spot of the league table, and were desperately struggling to avoid relegation.