Throwback Thursday: When Juventus Scored Nine to a Protesting Inter

The Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter is not named as such for no reason as it puts together the supposedly top two sides in the Belpaese – at least if one looks at the number of Scudetto won by both clubs.

The match-up between the Bianconeri and the Nerazzurri is generally a pretty balanced one. But by surfing through the Italian football almanacs, one may stumble into a bizarre occurrence when Juventus demolished their fierce rivals by a record score of 9-1 (!) to put their hands on the 1960-61 title.

However, Juventus’ record win was not due to a dominating performance but was rather the consequence of Inter fielding their youth team in protest. After all, it wouldn’t be a real Derby d’Italia if there wasn’t some good controversy surrounding it – though in that case the controversy might have gone a bit too far.   

And so, what was expected to be a thrilling title decider turned into a farce that went down in history not only for its abnormal score, but also for being the last Serie A match played by Juventus legend Giampiero Boniperti and the first played by future Inter stalwart Sandro Mazzola – who was just an 18-year-old boy.

The Scudetto obviously went to the Bianconeri, coached by Carlo Parola, a former Juve legend himself as a player. He is the man whose famous overhead kick is depicted on the iconic Panini sticker packs. Inter were left scorned and disdained, though they would soon find reasons to smile again: The age of coach Helenio Herrera’s Grande Inter was about to dawn.

In the 1960-61 season, Il Mago (“The Magician”) Herrera had just landed in the black-and-blue side of Milan. The Nerazzurri President Angelo Moratti had picked him up from Spain after he won an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (The UEFA Cup’s ancestor) at Barcelona.

The Magician was fast to set his footprint on the Serie A, taking a team whose last Italian title dated back to six years earlier and making them again a serious Scudetto contender. Inter took the top-flight by storm, beating Juventus 3-1 in the first Derby d’Italia of the season and claiming the top spot in the table at mid-season with a four-point margin over the Bianconeri.  

But then Inter experienced an unexpected drop in form and collected four losses in a row between March and April 1961. They were leapfrogged by Juventus, who approached the reverse fixture of the Derby four points clear of the Nerazzurri.

The game scheduled on April 16, 1961 at the Stadio Comunale of Turin was thus expected to be decisive. People from both sides knew that and swarmed to the Comunale in mass, putting a severe strain on the somewhat vague official capacity of the Juventus playing ground.

Nobody knew exactly how many people were there but let it suffice to say that the supporters were standing on the running track of the stadium, just a few inches away from the playing turf, and a couple of Juve fans were also seen literally sitting on the Inter bench next to coach Herrera.

After 30 minutes of play, referee Carlo Gambarotta decided he had had enough. The match couldn’t be played in such conditions. According to the rules and the precedents, the home side was to be held responsible for the situation and thus Juventus were awarded a 0-2 loss by forfeit.    

As expected, the Bianconeri did not like it one bit and appealed the decision to the CAF – the Italian Football Association Court. Which would be understandable, if not for the fact that the Italian Football Association President Umberto Agnelli happened to be also Juventus’ President.

And so, with a shocking – though not unpredictable – plot twist, the CAF overturned the decision and ruled out that the match was to be played again. They did so right before the last campionato match-day. Inter, who had reached back Juventus at the top of the table in the meantime, suddenly found themselves two points behind (as two points for a victory were awarded back then).

The Nerazzurri were furious. So furious that, despite still being fully in contention for the title, they shockingly lost the last game to underdog Catania, basically delivering the title into Juventus’ hands and making the catch-up match with the Old Lady irrelevant.

Therefore, for the last game of the season, a Derby d’Italia played on June 10, 1961, beyond the natural conclusion of the league, Inter President Angelo Moratti ordered coach Herrera to field their De Martino selection – their youth club featuring only players aged 19 or younger – in protest over the CAF’s decision.

Now, you would expect that, in such situation, Juventus would decide not to rub it in. But their striker Omar Sivori happened to be in contention for the Ballon d’Or – which he would eventually win – and needed to take every single chance to shine. And so, as the whole squad cooperated to support him, Sivori mercilessly found the back of the net six times, with Juventus scoring three more to the poor Inter kids.

The Nerazzurri’s only goal came via a Sandro Mazzola penalty kick. Mazzola was just 18 and had to receive a special permission from his school (and from his parents…) to play as right on the same day he was supposed to pass his final high school exams. He was the only one among the 11 players that Inter fielded on that day who would go on to have an international career.   

When the farce was over, 34-year-old Giampiero Boniperti decided to hang his boots after 15 years of football all spent at Juventus. He must have thought that retiring after winning one last Scudetto was the right thing to do. Or maybe that, after taking part to Juventus’ brutal bulldozing of a team of teenagers in the glorious Derby d’Italia, he had just seen it all.  



June 10, 1961 – Serie A 1960-61 Round 28

SCORERS: 11′ Sivori (J), 12′ Sivori (J), 17′ Sivori (J), 52′ Riefolo (I, o.g.), 54′ Sivori (J), 64′ Nicolè (J), 67′ Sivori (J), 78′ Mazzola (I, pen.), 79′ Mora (J), 90′ Sivori (J, pen.)

JUVENTUS (3-2-2-3): Mattrel; Sarti, Cervato, Colombo; Emoli, Charles; Nicolè, Stacchini; Mora, Boniperti, Sivori Coach: Parola

INTER (3-2-2-3): Annibale; Riefolo, Masetto, Dalmaso; Tacchini, Morosi; Manini, Guglielmoni; Fusari, Mazzola, Ghelli Coach: Meazza

REFEREE: Mr. Gambarotta from Genoa