Friday, July 18 th, 2014
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Giuseppe Giannini: glories and failures of Totti's youth idol
He's among the best Italian playmakers ever. Il Principe (the Prince) was captain and guiding light of Roma through the 80s and the 90s. An unlucky era for the Giallorossi
by Federico Formica
When he was a teenager, in his bedroom there was a poster of Giuseppe Giannini, number ten, icon and captain of AS Roma. Some years later, Francesco Totti would eclipse the legend of his idol, il Principe, writing an even more glorious and victorious chapter in Roma's history.

Giuseppe Giannini played for the Giallorossi since 1981 to 1996. He was one of the best players ever grown in Roma's youth teams. Giannini had a privilege: he grew up at Paulo Roberto Falcao's shadow and with Nils Liedholm as a coach. Observing the Brazilian number 5 and listening the lessons of the Barone was the best football's school ever. But Giannini soon had a tough responibility: replacing Falcao on the pitch and in the heart of the tifosi.

Such a load would have burdened soon. Although he was among the best players in Roma's history, it is not by chance if the Roma fans always split in two groups: pro Giannini and against Giannini. The Curva Sud had harsh internal debates on Il Principe. Some of the fans never forgave his missed penalty in the Roma-Lazio derby. It was the 6th of March, 1984 and that goal would have been the equaliser. Roma lost the derby after 5 years. And in those years a derby was worth an entire season in Rome.

His nickname “Principe” (Prince) perfectly describes the kind of player he was. An elegant, graceful regista. He played at a slow pace, his passes were perfect and he always played with his head up. Giannini magnificently dictated the tempo of the games. A kind of player that could have played for Guardiola's Barcelona without any problem. He could find a team-mate with a 50 meters pass. Nils Liedholm often said that at the end of the trainings, Giannini stayed late to practice long passes.

Il Principe was a pillar of Azeglio Vicini's Italian national team. In those years, la Nazionale reached the semifinals both in Euro 1988 and in the World Cup 1990, which was played in Italy. A strong team that could count on Walter Zenga, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Roberto Donadoni, Roberto Baggio and Gianluca Vialli. Giuseppe Giannini was the metronome of that side. In Italia '90 Giannini scored the winner against USA in the group stage. A game that was played... at the Olimpico stadium in Rome.

Exactly like Francesco Totti, Giuseppe Giannini preferred to stay in Rome despite many offers from Italian and European top clubs. He could have won many more trophies than the three Coppa Italia he lifted in Giallorosso (1983-84, 1985-86, 1990-91). He also officially won the 1982-83 Scudetto but in that season he never set foot on the pitch, so he can't really be considered Campione d'Italia.

Extremely loved and opposed by his own fans, Giannini had one – immense – misfortune: he played betweentwo (successful) eras of Roma history. Too late to enjoy the golden age of Nils Liedholm, Agostino Di Bartolomei and Falcao's, too early to win the third title with Fabio Capello, Francesco Totti and Gabriel Batistuta. Unfortunately for him, he also experienced two European frustrations: he was about to enter Roma's first team in 1983-84 when the Giallorossi lost the European Cup to Liverpool and he was a pillar of the squad in 1990-91, when they lost the UEFA Cup to Inter. 

With the yellow-and-red jersey Giannini scored 75 goals in 436 games between Serie A, Coppa Italia and European competitions

Unlike Francesco Totti, he left Roma at the end of his career to wear Sturm Graz (where he won one Austrian National Cup and one Austrian Super Cup), Lecce and Napoli's jerseys. His farewell game at the Olimpico in 2000 was a crazy night. Lazio had just won their second Italian title and some Roma fans exploited the occasion to contest Franco Sensi (the owner) and to vandalize the stadium. During half time, some idiots invaded the pitch: seats were wrecked, the goal posts destroyed and even the grass of the pitch was torn off. Giannini left the stadium in tears.

As a coach
, Giannini was not as successful as he was as a player. He collected many dismissals (Foggia, Sambenedettese, Arges Pitesti, Massese, Hellas Verona) and, when it wasn't the president to fire him, it was Giannini to resign (Gallipoli and Grosseto). His main result was the promotion of Gallipoli from the third to the second division. Now he is the coach of the Libanese national team.

thanks to Stefano Formica

Saturday, May 10 th, 2014
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