Throwback Thursday: Pruzzo’s Motion Picture Overhead

Since the early ‘80s, the rivalry between Roma and Juventus has become the fieriest in Italian football. 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 champion Roma are due to play at the Stadio Comunale of Torino, and are willing to honor the Tricolore they snatched from the hands of Juventus only a few months earlier. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, cannot wait to take their revenge. The match remains balanced for more than one hour, with both keepers called to duty only with long-range shots. The best chance is for Roma’s Paulo Roberto Falcao a few minutes before the break. However, the Brazilian star fails to send the ball into Stefano Tacconi’s net, allowing Juventus’ defenders to clear it.

At the 62nd minute, Bruno Conti receives a pass in his attacking third, makes two steps, and goes for a razor-sharp low shot that hits the target on Tacconi’s goal left side. The Trap – Juventus’ coach Giovanni Trapattoni – reacts by sending in Beniamino Vignola for an abulic Zbigniew Boniek, and the Bianconeri promptly wake up. Michel Platini exchanges with Vignola, and gains a free kick just outside Roma’s box. The outcome is the same as a few months earlier in a Roma-Juventus played at the Stadio Olimpico: Platini takes a quick run-up, and delivers a perfect bending free kick that leaves no chance to Franco Tancredi.

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

Pruzzo_Juventus_Roma2
Juventus-Roma of December 4, 1983 went down to history for a late goal scored by Roberto Pruzzo with this superb overhead kick

Still, despite their shock at Juve’s one-two, Liedholm’s side manages to react. Tacconi goes over the top to deflect a header by Toninho Cerezo, but just a few second before the final whistle he must surrender and concede the second goal. Roma’s equaliser is a masterpiece: Odoacre Chierico stops the ball with his chest just outside Juve’s goal area, moves past Platini with a sombrero flick and, with the ball still not touching the ground, crosses it in the middle of the box. Here Roberto Pruzzo invents an acrobatic overhead kick with perfect timing, sending the ball right close to the left post – into which Tacconi hopelessly crashes…

Flashback to a few months earlier: Pruzzo, together with three other professional players (Roberto Boninsegna, Luciano Spinosi, and Carlo Ancellotti) is 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 includes a football match between Don Camillo’s Angels and the Devils trained by Peppone, in which Roberto Pruzzo is 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 the evocative transition of Pruzzo’s athletic fit from a movie set to a football pitch is a fact, for a goal that more than any other one can be defined a “motion-picture goal.”

MATCH REPORT

December 4, 1983 – Serie A 1983-84 Round 11
JUVENTUS-ROMA 2-2

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

Logo_Juventus_1979 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

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Translated by Matteo Carnevale

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