Juventus vs Roma Throwback: Pruzzo’s Motion Picture Overhead

Since the early 1980s, the rivalry between Roma and Juventus has been one of the fieriest in Italian football. Back in those years, the games between the Giallorossi and the Bianconeri were often decisive to assign the Scudetto, and have always been vibrant and hard-fought, with controversies both inside and outside the pitch. Juventus – Roma matches, with their champions and debates, never fail to deliver emotions to Serie A fans.

On December 4, 1983, Nils Liedholm’s incumbent champions Roma were due to play at the Stadio Comunale in Turin and willing to honor the Tricolore they snatched from the hands of Juventus only a few months earlier. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, could not wait to get their revenge.

The match was balanced for more than one hour, with both keepers called to action only from long-range shots. The best chance was for Roma’s Paulo Roberto Falcao just a few minutes before the break. However, the Brazilian star failed to push the ball into Stefano Tacconi’s net, allowing Juventus’ defenders to clear it.

On 62 minutes, Bruno Conti received the ball in his attacking third and went for a razor-sharp shot that finally found the back of Tacconi’s net. Juventus coach Giovanni Trapattoni reacted by sending in Beniamino Vignola for an abulic Zbigniew Boniek, and the Bianconeri promptly woke up.

Michel Platini exchanged the ball with Vignola and won a free kick just outside Roma’s box. His conversion had the same outcome as a few months earlier in a Roma – Juventus match played at the Stadio Olimpico. Platini took a quick run-up and delivered a perfect bending free kick that left no chance to goalkeeper Franco Tancredi.

Roma players were shocked. Just a few minutes later, they risked again by committing a trivial defensive blunder in an attempt to clear the ball. Then, Sebastiano Nela and Ubaldo Righetti crashed into each other and left Domenico Penzo free to strike for Juventus’ 2-1. Again, the same pattern of the match played earlier in March.

Still, despite being shocked by Juve’s lethal one-two, Liedholm’s side managed to react. Tacconi had to pull off a fine save to deflect a Toninho Cerezo header but, just a few second before the final whistle, he had to surrender and concede a second goal.

Roma’s equalizer was indeed a masterpiece: Odoacre Chierico stopped the ball with his chest just outside of the Juventus area, dashed past Platini with a sombrero flick and, with the ball still not touching the ground, crossed it in the middle of the box.

There, Roberto Pruzzo invented an acrobatic overhead kick with perfect timing, sending the ball right into the bottom left corner of the net as poor Tacconi risked crashing into the post in a vain attempt to defuse it.

Flashback to a few months earlier: Pruzzo, together with three other professional players (Roberto Boninsegna, Luciano Spinosi, and Carlo Ancellotti) was invited to shoot some scenes for Terence Hill’s feature film Don Camillo – a remake of the original 1952 film with Fernandel and Gino Cervi. Maybe as a tribute to Pele’s well-known overhead kick in Victory directed by John Huston, the script included a football match between Don Camillo’s Angels and the Devils trained by Peppone, in which Roberto Pruzzo was supposed to score with an overhead.

We will never know whether practicing this skill while shooting actually served as an inspiration for Pruzzo to repeat the trick during the match with Juventus, even if this is what director Terence Hill eventually claimed on TV.

But, one thing is for sure: Pruzzo’s athletic fit, that helped Roma salvage at least one point against the much-hatred Bianconeri, could more than any other be defined as a true “movie-like” goal.



December 4, 1983 – Serie A 1983-84 Round 11

SCORERS: 62’ Conti (R), 72’ Platini (J), 77’ Penzo (J), 90’ Pruzzo (R)

JUVENTUS: Tacconi, Caricola, Cabrini, Bonini, Brio (13’ Prandelli), Scirea, Penzo, Tardelli, Rossi, Platini, Boniek (67’ Vignola) (Bodini, Tavola, Furino) Coach: Trapattoni
Logo_Roma_1980 ROMA: Tancredi, Nela, Righetti, Maldera, Falçao, Bonetti, Ancelotti (31’ Chierico), Cerezo, Pruzzo, Di Bartolomei, Conti (Malgioglio, Oddi, Nappi, Graziani) Coach: Liedholm

REFEREE: Mr. Casarin from Milan