Saturday, July 19 th, 2014
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Best goal scorer and relegated: the unique story of Igor Protti
In the 1995-96 season with Bari, the striker from Romagna was the first and only player to be top goal scorer in Serie A on a relegated side. But Protti became a legend in another coastal city: Livorno
If you ever find yourself holidaying in the beautiful western coast of Tuscany, you may find yourself visiting the scenic port city of Livorno. Famous for it’s mouth watering sea food, it’s hundreds of years of history, and it’s breath taking views of the Mediterranean.


It is worth mentioning the name Igor Protti to any of the locals and you’ll soon see that like any other Italian city it’s famous for it’s football. Protti a short (5’7”) penalty box striker (looked more like a Pirates of The Caribbean extra that an Italian footballer) was born and bread in Rimini and it was here he would begin his footballing career in the mid eighties. He spent the majority of his career playing in Italy’s lower leagues having spells at Rimini, Virescit Boccaleone and Messina between 1983 and 1992.


He constantly scored goals wherever he went in his early career. It was in season 1995-1996 that Protti’s profile really shot to fame as his goals for Bari saw him share the Serie A top goal scoring charts with Lazio great Giuseppe Signori. Despite Protti’s 24 goal haul that season his Bari team were still relegated. This kind of form finally saw Protti earn his big move as Lazio swooped for the prolific striker. Here he partnered their free scoring Signori to form a devastating attack.


However Protti was somewhat of a difficult character and his big move to the Rome club was an unsuccessful one, this eventually saw him being released from his contract. The following few years would prove difficult for Protti having more poor spells at Napoli and Reggiana. In 1999 the little striker would find himself returning to Livorno in Serie C1, a club he had a successful spell with some tens years previous. It would that appear after a few unsettled years Protti had finally found a home in Tuscany he very quickly became a fans favourite with the Amaranto faithful scoring week in week out. Protti was named club captain and his goals would lead Livorno back into Serie A in 2003-2004.


Now a club legend Protti lead Livorno to a 9th place finish the following season. (the clubs highest ever in the too flight.) Protti announced his retirement in 2005 and having scored over 100 goals for Livorno and bringing huge success to the club his number ten jersey was retired. The success he brought to the club meant so much to the city he was given the freedom on Livorno in 2007.


It was at this ceremony Protti insisted his number 10 shirt come out if retirement “give anybody back the dream to dress it one day.” Protti was no doubt a talent but much like today’s Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli his personality certainly held him back when he got his chance. His failure at Lazio amongst others meant he never succeeded at national level. When Calcio Ruled The World, Igor Protti came to life both on and off the pitch.


This article was originally published on The Gentleman Ultra- - Richard Hall’s blog on the past and present of Italian football. You can follow him on twitter @Gentleman_Ultra


Friday, March 28 th, 2014
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