Legends

Sunday afternoons in the mid-90s. These were heady days. My father and I would settle down to watch our weekly dose of Channel 4’s Football Italia, presented by the inimitable James Richardson (a man I fondly associate with my childhood). Those are my first memories of Italian football and they have stayed with me ever since.

And boy was it the right era to watch ‘Il campionato piú bello del mondo’. Aside from the artistry on the field, I was also enchanted by the matchday pageantry; the stadia, the choreographies, the flares and the incessant rhythmic chanting in the stands. I’ll never forget the first time I experienced this atmosphere in the flesh. My father took me to watch AC Milan against Chelsea in the Champions League in 1999. It was a typical dreary Milanese October evening, but one illuminated by San Siro under the lights. Milan boasted the likes of Shevchenko, Maldini, Costacurta, Leonardo, Shevchenko and Bierhoff, whilst Chelsea had Zola, Flo, Deschamps and Desailly. But it was Dennis Wise who would steal the night, with a late equaliser that has gone down in Chelsea folklore. An incredible evening and one I will never forget! 

 

Luca Hodges-Ramon

Managing Editor at The Gentleman Ultra, @LH_Ramon25

It was May 24, 1989, the Camp Nou bulging with 97,000 souls – mostly Milan. On the back of a 5-0 semi-final stroll past against Real Madrid, Sacchi’s men were about to dish out similar treatment to Anghel Iordanescu’s Steaua București. Two goals apiece from Gullit and Van Basten sealed it with an age to spare and in that moment Italian football seemed to tower above all else.

A later trip through Lombardy in an old Renault 4 combined with a fondness for former IFK Goteborg star Glenn Stromberg, Claudio Caniggia and later, Maurizio Ganz, drew me to Atalanta BC during the 90s. In the years La Dea were absent from the top flight, it was Signori and then Batigol who I looked forward to watching on a Sunday afternoon. Although, in 1996-97, it was all about Inzaghi. 

 

Neil Morris

Editor at The Gentleman Ultra, @nmorris01

Basten sealed it with an age to spare and in that moment Italian football seemed to tower above all else.

A later trip through Lombardy in an old Renault 4 combined with a fondness for former IFK Goteborg star Glenn Stromberg, Claudio Caniggia and later, Maurizio Ganz, drew me to Atalanta BC during the 90s. In the years La Dea were absent from the top flight, it was Signori and then Batigol who I looked forward to watching on a Sunday afternoon. Although, in 1996-97, it was all about Inzaghi. 

Growing up, I followed Stockport County home and away with my Dad. As a supporter of a team outside the top division – especially with both Manchester United and Manchester City on the doorstep – part of our identity was that we followed our local team with pride and didn’t jump on the Premier League bandwagon. However watching Football Italia on Channel 4 was a way of seeing some of the world’s very best players throughout the 1990’s, without an expensive subscription to SKY or succumbing to watching our “noisy neighbours”.
 
I would look forward to seeing the live matches on a Sunday, a day when my team didn’t play. The colours, the vibrancy and passion of the supporters and the skills on show from a plethora of world class players were second to none, and as we all know, the format was simply perfect for the time. Even back then, we knew we had a family connection to Fiorentina, and watching Gabriel Batistuta fire in those incredible strikes week after week was a genuine pleasure. 
 
It’s hard to remember a time when football wasn’t accessible via multiple formats, but this brilliant show brought something precious to our screens when we couldn’t just look on Twitter for a sensational piece of skill. For football addicts, it provided a weekly fix of something previously only found once every two years when the major tournaments came around
 
 

Chloe Beresford

Freelance Serie A writer & editor. Published in The Sportman, Mundial Magazine, Guardian Sport, Tifo Football and more.


My thoughts and feelings about 90’s Football Italia stem from an entirely retrospective outlook. Born in the late 90’s, I was never able to first-hand experience the wonders of fellow Englishman Paul Gascoigne at my beloved Lazio, or live through the countless brilliance of Ballon d’Or winners consistently featuring in Serie A. Although at first glance this may seem sad, it does mean that I have a whole decade’s worth of content and history to explore as and when I want to.

Delving deeper into why I love 90’s Serie A, most of it comes down to the star-studded line-ups that would perform for top teams like Juve, Inter, Milan, Lazio and even Parma. At one point, Parma lined up with Buffon, Crespo, Cannavaro and Veron – four players with world class quality. This meant that not only was there a lot of competition in the league but Italian teams were able to be extremely competitive on the European stage – which perhaps makes the current era a little bit more upsetting.

 
 

Sam Wilson

TheLaziali.com

In the early nineties in particular, football was Italy. There was an Italian club in all but two European Cup finals during that decade and Gazzetta Football Italia was on our screens beaming colour and flair into our living rooms.

For me, it was the Viola of Fiorentina that drew the eye. In Gabriel Batistuta, the Florentines had the complete striker. In Rui Costa, they had an exciting, galloping playmaker. It’s just a shame that side couldn’t win the Scudetto, as it was up against a formidable duopoly in Juventus and Milan, plus a host of other sides at their peak – like Parma. 

The other attraction of Italian football was the glamour. The kits were out of this world in the 1990s, as were the haircuts!

Later in the decade Italian stars like Vialli, Zola, Di Matteo and Di Canio were coming to the Premier League. Power was shifting away from Serie A. The decade that had started with an iconic Italian World Cup ended with a new order as teams from the Premier League and Bundesliga contested the Champions League final. Italian teams have been European champions just three times this century, which goes to show how exceptional the nineties were.

 
 

Chris Lee

editor, Outside Write


I so much looked forward to catching up with the Football Italia news. I enjoyed watching the interviews with the English players over there, as well as catching up with some great foreign players on a regular basis. It was great to have a presenter like James Richardson, who could speak Italian, which added something different to the show.  He had such a great insight into Italian football, which helped me become a bigger fan of the show. 

 

Aitch White

Avid Italia 90’s Fan

The thing about early – mid 90’s football in the UK is that, on the whole, it was dreadful. Players spent more time drinking than training, long ball was pretty much the only tactic, and European glory seemed light years away. That’s why Italian football was such a breath of fresh air. There was no comparison to the likes of Maldini, Baggio, Zola, Vialli… the best of the best played in Italy.

 

Carl Reader

Football Italia fanatic