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David Platt, the man who made the English fall in love with Serie A
He wore the jerseys of Bari, Juventus and Sampdoria. The blonde midfielder is among the best English footballers to have ever played in Italy: his performances eclipsed Paul Gascoigne
“If I hadn’t scored that goal, I might still have ended up playing in Italy but, realistically, I’m sure it was the catalyst.” David Platt on the importance of his extra time goal against Belgium in the last 16 of Italia ‘90’.

We all remember the joyous days of Channel 4’s Football Italia. James Richardson bringing us the ins and outs of Calcio from a Piazza in one of Italy’s en vogue cities, a Gazzetta dello Sport in hand and a cappuccino at the ready. If it wasn’t for the move of David Platt, and of course cult hero Paul Gascoigne to Serie A, both of which saw the English interest in Italian football sky rocket, Channel 4 may never have jumped on the Calcio bandwagon.

Having burst onto the scene at Italia ‘90’, scoring three goals including a memorable volley against Belgium, Platt earned himself a big money move (at the time a British transfer record of £5.5 million) from Aston Villa to Bari. At his first major Italian press conference and keen to make a lasting impression, Platt declared he wanted to become the “Maradona of Bari.” Was this hyperbole? Almost certainly, but his magisterial claim wasn’t altogether empty. Of course he never achieved the dizzying heights reached by the Argentinian demi-god in Naples.

However in his first and only season with the Galletti, Platt scored 11 goals in 29 games. It was an impressive tally for a midfielder playing in a league which prided itself on its defensive fortitude. The Englishman combined the mores of the English game - courage, determination and leadership - with a knack for bursting from midfield to find pockets of space, enabling him to finish ninth in the Serie A scoring charts of 1991-1992. This endeared Platt to the Bari faithful, and the Englishman, (while suspended), was even invited to join the Ultras in the Curva to watch a game against Hellas Verona. Platt obliged, spending fifteen minutes with the fans before taking his seat next to the Bari president, thus ensuring he remains an icon within the city.

However Platt’s first season would end in bitter disappointment after the Biancorossi slid into Serie B spelling an end to the Englishman’s love affair with the Puglia club. Despite the attempts of Roberto Mancini to tempt Platt to Sampdoria, the English international found the lure of Juventus impossible to resist and in 1992 he signed for the Turin giants for £6.5 million. Yet after a disappointing year which saw Platt struggle to cement a first team place at the Vecchia Signora, Giovanni Trapattoni deploying him in a defensive midfield position which consequently stymied his goal scoring, Mancini eventually got his wish and Platt joined Sampdoria in 1993.

Platt arguably had his best years at the Blucerchiati, becoming an integral part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Coppa Italia winning side in 1994 and again proving himself a fan favourite. In 55 games at the club he amassed 17 goals, perhaps the most memorable of which came in the Derby della Lanterna against Genoa. The blonde haired midfielder did what he did best, finding himself in the right place at the right time to drive home a rebound from an Atillio Lombardo effort (, salvaging a draw for Samp. In fact watching a montage of his goals for la Doria you come to realise Platt had a myriad of finishes in his armoury and by the end of his Italian career in 1995 he possessed the all-round skills to mix it with the very best – (

On arriving in Italy Platt said “I want to be an Italian, to speak Italian, live like an Italian and eat like an Italian.” Although he still possessed the midlands accent, he immersed himself in the culture. Celebrating like every goal was his last, gesticulating at officials, embracing the zealous fanaticism, wearing Armani and most importantly, when Calcio ruled the world Platt was playing like the very best Italian midfielders, defensively adept and composed in front of goal.

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 7 th, 2014
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