Thursday, August 21 st, 2014
Mission  |  Team  |  Contact Us
Levratto, the net-tearer striker who scared the goalkeepers
Fiorentina denied Udinese the chance of playing their first Coppa Italia final since 1922, with a 2-0 home win. That year it was a local team named Vado to deny them the joy of their first trophy, as the legend of the "net-tearer" was born
by John Cavenaghi
With a 2-0 win, with goals by Pasqual and Cuadrado, Fiorentina became the first finalist of the 2014 Coppa Italia. Udinese were denied their first final since 1922, when they lost to a small local team named Vado. That day, the legend of the "net-tearer" (or Sfondareti) was born, as a teenager led the team from Liguria to the first edition of the Coppa Italia.


Modern time fans live in an era where every single move of a player, on and (unfortunately) off the field is recorded and available to the rest of the world within seconds, through Youtube, Facebook, Twitter. However it hasn’t always been like this; football precedes video technology, and many players didn’t become eternal world stars simply because not enough people knew about them.


Some players, however, managed to live on through written stories and through word of mouth. This explains how an Italian fifties band- Quartetto Cetra- would dedicate a song, Che Centrattacco (What a Striker!) to a footballer who played twenty years before, of which they couldn’t have seen any goal. 


Modern time fans live in an era where every single move of a player, on and (unfortunately) off the field is recorded and available to the rest of the world within seconds, through Youtube, Facebook, Twitter. However it hasn’t always been like this; football precedes video technology, and many players didn’t become eternal world stars simply because not enough people knew about them.


Some players, however, managed to live on through written stories and through word of mouth. This explains how an Italian fifties band- Quartetto Cetra- would dedicate a song, Che Centrattacco (What a Striker!) to a footballer who played twenty years before, of which they couldn’t have seen any goal.This is the story of Virgilio Felice Levratto, defined by the press as “the greatest Italian player never to have won the Scudetto”.


Virgilio Felice Levratto was born in Savona, Liguria, in 1904. He started his career with a small, local team named Vado. In 1922, at the age of 18, he leads the team - which at the time played in Promozione (todays Serie B) - to a first, historical victory in the first edition of the Coppa Italia against Udinese.


Why he is still remembered. His powerful shot went in the top left corner in the 127th minute of a game which would have ended within minutes due to darkness, and that in case of a draw, would have been played again the following day at Udinese. The Gazzetta dello Sport described the goal as a “left footed shot full of spin, which tore the net apart.” That day the “Sfondareti” (literally “net tearer”) was born.


What may have seemed as a lightning start of a career full of victories, was instead a flash in the pan: Levratto would never win any other trophy in his career (other than an Olympic bronze medal with Italy in 1928), exactly like his first team, Vado, which is now an amateur team in the fifth division. Despite this, Levratto should be remembered as one of the greatest strikers in football history, and one of the first to attract huge crowds to the stadium.


He will end his career with an illustrious collection of jerseys: Hellas Verona (20 apps/15 goals), Genoa (188/84), Inter (63/25), Lazio (42/8). Unfortunately for him, he always missed the winning cycle of his teams by a year or two. In fact, he arrived at Genoa- at the time the most prestigious and winning club in Italy- in 1925/26, two years after the rossoblu won their ninth and (as of today) last Scudetto. In joining the Grifone, he turned down an offer by Juventus, because he loved the sea too much, and couldn’t stand the “grey Torino”. That Juve squad would cannibalize the Serie A for five straight years.

He then joined Inter (at the time called Ambrosiana, for fascist regime reasons) in 1932, two years after the nerazzurri won their third Italian title. When he joined Lazio in 1934-35, he had already given his best. In the last game of that tournament, however, he still managed to score his fourth goal of the season vs Inter. Lazio won the game 4-2, and Juventus - previously tied with Inter in first place - won their fifth consecutive Scudetto, in exactly the same fashion as May 5th, 2002…only 67 years before!


His misfortunes at the club level have partially been compensated with a successful career with the Azzurri jersey. Overall he collected 28 caps, scoring 11 goals, and winning the bronze medal in Amsterdam in 1928.


It was just partially compensated because he gave his best in the late 1920s, and had to retire from professional football at 32 in 1936, right in the middle of the most successful cycle of the Italian national team: world titles in 1934, 1938 and Olympic gold medal in 1936. He wouldn’t be part of that celebrated team, and his place would be taken by two future legends: Giuseppe Meazza and Silvio Piola, both teammates of his in Inter and Lazio respectively.


At the age of 20, Levratto receives his first call from Vittorio Pozzo for the national team, and he is immediately part of the starting lineup at the Paris Olympics. Still a second division player, Levratto didn’t score in the competition, but a missed goal made more noise and headlines than any other goal scored during the Games.


In the round of 16 vs Luxembourg, Italy is leading 2-0. Adolfo Baloncieri, one of the greatest midfielders in the world at the time, passes a through ball to Levratto who is one on one against the keeper. The Italian striker hits the ball with incredible power, and with that same power the ball hits the poor Etienne Bausch straight in the face, knocking him out. The ref stopped the game, and as Levratto saw his opponent on the ground, senseless, his face stained with blood, he yelled, “Oh God, I killed him!”.


Luckily for everyone he had not. The keeper managed to stand up again and play, despite he had lost a chunk of tongue (at the time substitutions were not allowed). After five minutes, Levratto and Bausch are vis-à-vis again, but before the Italian could even shoot the ball, the keeper ran behind the post, covering his face with his hands, shaking in fear. Levratto was so amused by the scene, that he decided not to score, shooting the ball out of bounds, in perfect Olympic spirit. The French press would celebrate this chivalrous gesture.


In his second Olympics in 1928, Levratto made the headlines again. This time he did score, several times, but it was two other legendary incidents that made him famous.

In the first game against Spain, a shot of his was so strong that two opponents who tried to stop it were sent in the back of the net with the ball. In the semifinal lost against the future Olympic and world champions Uruguay, Levratto lived up to his nickname of “Sfondareti”, tearing the net for the final 2-3. He will end the tournament with four goals in five matches, and with a bronze medal that will represent his greatest team achievement as a football player.


He ended his career with more broken nets (seven) than trophies, even though he finally managed to win a Scudetto with Fiorentina in 1956 as an assistant coach to Fulvio Bernardini. But at that point it didn’t really matter. His legend was already written: simply “the greatest Italian player never to have won the Scudetto”.

Monday, February 10 th, 2014
For discussion of this topic and many more, join more than 10,000 fans at R/Football
Tags:

Warning: mysql_query() [function.mysql-query]: Access denied for user 'ODBC'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in C:\Inetpub\vhosts\bit01.it\serieaddicted\news.php on line 325

Warning: mysql_query() [function.mysql-query]: A link to the server could not be established in C:\Inetpub\vhosts\bit01.it\serieaddicted\news.php on line 325
Access denied for user 'ODBC'@'localhost' (using password: NO)