We caught up with Fiorentina loving football writer, Giancarlo Rinaldi to talk PE classes in Scotland, very itchy football shirts and Roberto Baggio wonder goals against Juventus.
What was your first football shirt?
The first shirt I can remember was one which I bought while on family holidays in Italy. There was only one sports shop in the village and the owner’s eyes used to light up whenever we came to town. The strip was a long-sleeved purple Fiorentina top with the badges provided separately which my mother had to iron on when we got back to Scotland.
From memory, it was one of the most uncomfortable shirts I ever had, very itchy due to the material it was made from and almost unbearable when you started to warm up during a game. Nonetheless, I wore it with pride, particularly when my PE teacher examined it and said: “Fiorentina? Who the hell are Fiorentina?”. That just made me all the more determined to wear it as often as I could.
What is your favourite football shirt?
It has to be a Viola shirt and one of my favourites was an early 1980s edition in the pioneering days of sponsorship. The logos were getting bigger and bolder but I don’t think I ever saw a club badge used more prominently than the season when clothing company JD Farrows had a deal with Fiorentina.
It was an absolutely gigantic interpretation of their classic Giglio (fleur-de-lis) emblem. For many it’s probably a monstrosity but it reminds me of the first seasons the club came pre-season training in the little village my family is from in Tuscany. It was the first time I clapped eyes on players like Antognoni, Francesco Graziani, Daniel Bertoni and Daniele Massaro. It also happened to be the closest the club ever got to winning the league in my lifetime – losing out on the final day of the campaign.
What is your favourite goal?
I think my favourite goal, at the moment, is one a young Roberto Baggio scored for Fiorentina against Diego Maradona’s Napoli at the San Paolo. It was his farewell season in Florence and the Viola ended up losing the game but that only increases the bittersweet magic of the strike against one of the toughest defences in Serie A at the time. He picks up the ball midway inside his own half and has a little look over his shoulder to see if it is safe to set off on a run.
He dashes into the space in front of him, avoids two desperate attempts to tackle him or bring him down and then gets one on one with the goalkeeper. That’s when he shows what a special player he was by dumping the goalie on his behind before calmly rounding him and rolling the ball into the net. Still get goosebumps when I watch it.
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