Throwback Thursday: How Ogliari’s Career Crashed Into Baresi

Milan come back to Paolo Mazza Stadium for the first time in 37 years tomorrow. It was April 12, 1981, when the Rossoneri last visited what was then known as Stadio Comunale of Ferrara. Just like tomorrow, Milan could line up a much stronger formation than their opponent SPAL.

That Milan, which had been relegated to second division for the first time in their history due to a match-fixing scandal, won the Serie B Championship with 50 points, whereas SPAL ended up in the 12th position.

The game was at times dominated by SPAL: Alberto Bergossi, Gian Pietro Tagliaferri, and Oriano Grop really gave Milanisti a hard time, but in the end a double by Roberto Antonelli awarded three points to the metropolitan powerhouse.

However, the match went down to history as it featured one of the most traumatic events for the Biancazzurri: The injury occurred to Franco Ogliari, consequence of a horrific tackle by Franco Baresi.
Franco Ogliari, the one on the right, shown on a Panini sticker from 1981

Thirteen minutes into the game, Milan’s famous libero broke SPAL curly, blonde-haired midfielder’s leg – as well as his career – with a violent intervention right under the home supporters’ stands. Ogliari was an ill-tempered, defensive midfielder, with good attacking skills as well. Many Serie A clubs were looking at him, and a bright future seemed to be lying ahead for that 25-year-old boy.

But Ogliari’s future was compromised by that tackle, whose sound is still clear in the memory of those who were present at the Comunale. Ogliari’s shin bone cracking was similar to a broken branch. The whole stadium fell silent. The young boy’s tears as he understood he was never going to be the same were covered by the applauses of a whole city – which lost not only four points against Milan that season, but also their most promising player.

Franco Baresi allegedly never apologized to Franco Ogliari for his intervention. He went on to become one of the most famous cult figures in Italian football, whereas Ogliari eventually came back to his hometown Crema to work as a corporate employee.

For the most aged of SPAL fans, tomorrow’s match is going to be not only a new David versus Goliath tale, but also a chance to cancel that infamous match of 1981.


April 12, 1981 – Serie B 1980-81 Round 29

SCORERS: 16′ Antonelli (M), 20′ Tagliaferri (S), 69′ Antonelli (M)

Logo_SPAL_1980 SPAL: Gavioli, Cavasin, Ferrari, Castronaro, Albiero, Ogliari (13′ Miele), Giani, Rampanti, Bergossi, Tagliaferri, Grop (82′ Gabbriellini) (Bertaglia, Brilli, Gelain) Coach: Rota
Logo_Milan_1981 MILAN: Piotti, Tassotti, Maldera, De Vecchi, Collovati, Baresi, Buriani, Novellino, Antonelli, Battistini (88′ Vincenzi), Cuoghi (Incontri, Minoia, Icardi, Romano) Coach: Giacomini

REFEREE: Mr. Lops from Torino

Translated by Matteo Carnevale