Throwback Thursday: Lulic71, Lazio’s Magic Mantra

It’s no secret that both clubs from the Italian capital, Lazio and Roma, have little silverware to boast compared to the traditional football powerhouses from the North West – Juventus, Inter, and Milan.

Over the course of their history, Roma have conquered 14 trophies including 3 Scudetto, while Lazio amassed the same amount of titles, winning the Serie A only twice. Neither side of the Tiber river has ever won any international trophy. For that reason, it doesn’t happen very often that the two hatred cross-town rivals can face each other with a title at stake.

But when it does happen….Oh well, it’s a pretty big deal.

If one or Roma fans’ most sublime pleasures ever was “unstitching the Scudetto“ from the Laziali’s chest – a pretty common locution in the Eternal City back in 2001, when the Giallorossi managed to win the Italian title just one year after Lazio had achieved the same – the Biancocelesti can pride themselves on having beaten their bitter enemies in a Coppa Italia Final.

The “Most-Important-Derby-of-All,” as it was dubbed, took place on May 26, 2013. It was a single-leg final decided by a lone goal by Senad Lucic in the 71st minute. Nothing would ever be the same in Rome from that moment on, the clock perpetually stuck to that minute 71 of the game for which there is no re-match, as Lazio fans never fail to remind their Giallorossi acquaintances with delight, at least until the two Capitoline sides manage to go head-to-head again for some major trophy.

Before that day, Senad Lulic was just an ordinary side midfielder from Bosnia who had relocated to Switzerland during his childhood and had started to play football in the Swiss country. When Lazio’s sports director Igli Tare picked him from Young Boys two years earlier, very few could imagine that this lanky, unpretentious midfielder would go on to carve his piece of history in the Biancocelesti’s epoch.

Lazio’s big names were others: Miroslav Klose above all, the German international being no less than the all-time top scorer for the Mannschaft, and on his way to also become the all-time top scorer in World Cup editions. Brazilian creative midfielder Hernanes, known in Italy as the Profeta (“Prophet”), was starting to collect his first caps with the Selecao and was another one to watch for.

The Biancocelesti’s coach was Vladimir Petkovic. Just like Lulic, Petkovic came from Bosnia and had made a name for himself in the Swiss football world – whose national selection he would eventually come to train. Appointing him as head coach of Lazio had looked like a quirky experiment on the part of President Claudio Lotito, amiably nicknamed Lotirchio by his fellow Lazio supporters (tirchio being Italian for stingy, short with money…)

Roma, on the other hand, were coached by interim trainer Aurelio Andreazzoli, who had replaced Zdenek Zeman earlier in the season. The dream of seeing the Bohemian coach training the Giallorossi again, 13 years after his first stint at the Roman Wolves, had lasted only a few months – proving once again that Zeman’s ultra-offensive, unbalanced style of play just wasn’t fit for teams with international ambitions.

The Giallorossi could, of course, count on their timeless totems, Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, on top of an assortment of young prospects signed just the previous summer, like Erik Lamela, Marquinhos and Mattia Destro. Some of them would go on to have some pretty remarkable careers, others like the Italian would never fully live up to the expectations.

Match-winner Senad Lucic runs towards a place in Lazio’s history, followed by Miroslav Klose

The Coppa Italia derby was not a memorable match to watch if truth be told. On a hot Sunday afternoon, both sides looked cautious and more afraid to slip on the banana skin of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to establish their supremacy on the Eternal City than willing to take initiative.

In such a stalemate, only a single episode could break the balance. The clock was about to strike the 71st minute when a cross from the right by Lazio’s Antonio Candreva found Roma’s goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont’s interception. The Romanian goalie only managed to deflect the ball, but that seemed enough to catch by surprise both his defender Marquinhos and Senad Lucic, who was lurking on the far post.

Still, the Bosnian somehow managed to regain his balance and tapped the ball in with a clumsy, ungraceful movement – ungraceful, but terribly effective.

Senad Lulic, minute 71, and nothing would be the same again.

The goal in the Most-Important-Derby-of-All arguably set a turning point in the career of the Bosnian midfielder, who indissolubly tied the rest of his football life to the Biancocelesti colors. As of today, Senad Lucic is Lazio’s captain and seems to have no intention to part ways from the club where he became an instant legend.

From that May 26, 2013, the pairing Lucic + 71 has become a sort of reverent mantra for any Biancocelesti supporter, a fetish to hang on in any moment of despair or when things are getting though. They use it everywhere, repeating it obsessively like an auspicious prayer. They use it as a profile name on social media. They name their dogs like that. We would assume – though we have no record of that – that even some babies born in Rome around those days must have been named Senad or Lulic (hopefully they were spared the 71 suffix…)

So, the next time you want to hack your Laziale friend’s credit card account, just try using Lulic71 as a password. Chances are that you will be right.

 

MATCH REPORT

May 26, 2013 – Coppa Italia Final
ROMA-LAZIO 0-1

SCORER: 71′ Lulic

ROMA (4-2-3-1): Lobont; Marquinhos, Burdisso, Castan, Balzaretti (75′ Osvaldo); De Rossi, Bradley; Lamela, Totti, Marquinho (82′ Dodò); Destro (Goicoechea, Romagnoli, Torosidis, Piris, Taddei, Florenzi, Perrotta, Pjanic, Tachtsidis, Lopez) Coach: Andreazzoli
LAZIO (4-1-4-1): Marchetti; Konko, Biava, Cana, Radu; Ledesma (54′ Mauri); Candreva, Onazi, Hernanes (83′ Gonzalez), Lulic; Klose (Bizzarri, Guerrieri, Dias, Stankevicius, Crecco, Ederson, Pereirinha, Kozak, Floccari) Coach: Petkovic

REFEREE: Mr. Orsato from Schio
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Marquinho, Balzaretti, Burdisso, Totti (R), Ledesma, Hernanes, Klose, Lulic (L); Red Card: Tachtsidis (R)

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