Throwback Thursday: When Giampaolo Jr. Helped Salernitana Beat Roma

Salernitana may be quite an unfamiliar name to many calcio followers from the younger generations. But the Granata, who gave Bologna a run for their money in the Serie A 2021/22 opener this past weekend, are not totally unknown to the Italian top-flight shores, having already competed in Serie A twice.

While the first of their experiences in the elite division is lost in time, dating back to 1947/48, their most recent Serie A run took place in 1998/99. Led by a young Delio Rossi – who would go on to coach the likes of Lazio, Atalanta, Sampdoria, and Fiorentina – Salernitana impressed the Italian football establishment with their sparkling football.

Delio Rossi knew Salerno very well, having coached there since 1994 – with a two-year interruption – and having led the team to two promotions, from Serie C1 to Serie B and then finally to the top-flight.

As they approached their first dance with the big boys in 50 years, the Granata could boast World class defender Rigobert Song, a starter for Cameroon at the recently held 1998 World Cup in France. The strikers were the experienced Marco Di Vaio, David Di Michele, and Federico Giampaolo – the younger brother of former Sampdoria and Milan coach Marco, who was also still a player at that time.

Their roster also included a 20-year-old gritty midfielder named Gennaro Gattuso, though the future Ringhio would not take part to the match we are recalling today.  

When they received Roma at the Stadio Arechi in January 1999 for Matchday 19, things were not going well for Salernitana. The Campanians were winless in seven games and were already involved, as one might have expected, in the relegation dogfight.

Against them was Zdenek Zeman’s Roma, another team who was living yet another frustrating campaign. The Giallorossi would produce themselves in some memorable games across the season, including an emphatic 3-1 win in the Derby della Capitale against title contenders Lazio but, overall, their domestic run was disappointing and saw them ending fifth in the table.   

Salernitana wanted to avenge the 1-3 loss suffered in the reverse fixture, which marked their return to the top-flight. Fortune seemed to be on their side as Roma were missing some key players as Francesco Totti, who had picked up an injury in Cagliari two weeks earlier, and Brazilian defenders Cafu and Aldair.

The game at the Arechi was also set to be a prime example of a “master vs. pupil” clash as Delio Rossi was a true disciple of Zeman, having coached the Primavera squad of Foggia when the Satanelli were under the Bohemian’s tenure. Like in the most classic outcome of such tales, it was the student to ultimately get the better of his mentor.

On 10 minutes, Marco Rossi (no kinship with his coach, Rossi simply happens to be the most common last name in Italy…) picked Federico Giampaolo with a fine lob cross, forcing Roma’s Austrian goalkeeper Richard Konsel to knock him down in the box. It was a crystal-clear penalty, which Antonino Bernardini converted with a clinical shot to the left.

Giampaolo was an absolute threat to the Roma defense and, 55 minutes into the game, the second goal came from another invention of the former Pescara man. Well picked by Vittorio Tosto with another spectacular cross, Giampaolo harpooned the ball with his left foot and put it past Konsel with his right.

Roma reopened the game when their captain Luigi Di Biagio headed home a cross from Brazilian winger Paulo Sergio but couldn’t produce much more, except for some protests at an alleged foul on Paulo Sergio in the box.

The Giallorossi were furious at full time and President Franco Sensi ordered a press blackout in protest over referee Emilio Pellegrino’s decisions. The Campanians, on the other hand, could breathe for a while.

Salernitana still wouldn’t manage to save themselves, falling back to Serie B for one point only. Delio Rossi was sacked in April, much to the disappointment of his own players – who believed him to be the only man who could salvage the Granata’s permanence in the top division.

To his credit, new coach Francesco Oddo – the father of 2006 World Cup Winner Massimo – did what he could and, under his guidance, Salernitana won four out of their last eight league games. But that was still not enough, and that was the beginning of a long abstinence from top-flight football for the Salerno-based club, who also had to go through two bankruptcies before finally coming back to heaven this season.



January 24, 1999 – Serie A 1998-99 Round 18

SCORERS: 11′ Bernardini (S, pen.), 55′ Giampaolo (S), 82′ Di Biagio (R)

SALERNITANA (4-4-2): Balli; Bolic, Fusco, Fresi, Del Grosso; M. Rossi (90′ Monaco), Breda, Bernardini, Tosto; Belmonte (79′ Di Michele), Giampaolo (Ivan, Ametrano, Chianese, Giac. Tedesco, Kolousek) Coach: D. Rossi

ROMA (4-3-3): Konsel; Quadrini, Petruzzi, Zago, Candela; Tommasi, Di Biagio, Di Francesco, Gautieri (82′ Bartelt), Delvecchio, Paulo Sergio (Chimenti, D. Conti, Aldair, Frau, Alenichev, Tomic) Coach: Zeman

REFEREE: Mr. Pellegrino from Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Konsel, Zago, Di Biagio, Gautieri, Delvecchio (R)