Forza Italia: A Journey in Search of Italy and its Football

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9780091905613: Forza Italia: A Journey in Search of Italy and its Football

For the first time, Paddy Agnew lifts the lid on Italian football, reflecting on 20 years of Italian living through "calcio"—the native word for all things football. When he and his girlfriend Dympna touched down in Rome in 1985, in search of adventure, sunshine, and the soul of Italian football (well, Paddy was looking for that), they were traveling into the uncharted terrain of a country they did not know and a language they did not speak. It soon became clear that neither Italy nor Italian football would be boring. In that first week in Italy, Michel Platini and Juventus won the Intercontinental Cup, whilst just days later the PLO killed 13 people in a random shooting at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Paddy covered both stories. Within two months of Paddy's arrival, TV tycoon Silvio Berlusconi bought debt-ridden AC Milan. Enmeshing the people's love of football with his own political ambitions, Berlusconi was to propel himself all the way to the Prime Minister's office. Berlusconi named his political party "Forza Italia" after a football chant, while the party MPs were known as the "azzurri," just like Italian international footballers. In that same period, Argentine Diego Maradona was the uncrowned King of Naples, leading Napoli to a first ever scudetto title in 1987, not withstanding a hectic, Hollywood-type lifestyle that mixed footballing genius with bad company of the organized criminal type. From Maradona to Shevchenko and from Platini to Totti, this is a fascinating tale of inspired players, skilled coaches, rich tycoons, glitzy media coverage, Mafia corruption, drug scandals, and fan power. It is also a personalized reflection on the consistent and continuing excellence of Italian football throughout a period of huge social, political, and economic upheaval.

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About the Author:

Paddy Agnew has been Rome correspondent for the Irish Times since 1986. Since 1991, he has been a match commentator on Italian football for state broadcaster RAI while over the last 20 years he has covered Italian football for ESPN TV, BBC World Service radio, Reuters, World Soccer magazine, and many other news organizations.

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