The cinematic lifetime of Gigi Meroni
It’s mentioned amongst followers that Torino by no means lose after they play on October fifteenth. It has definitely been that method for the final twenty years: in 2017 and earlier than that in 2011, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003, the occasions when Torino performed that day they by no means misplaced, at most they drew. And who is aware of if will probably be the identical on Saturday, with Torino enjoying once more on October 15 after 5 years, and never simply any recreation, however the dwelling derby towards Juventus.
This soccer “delusion” dates again to the day in 1967 when, after a championship recreation, the then Torino playmaker Gigi Meroni, a participant cherished by his followers, died when he ran over Corso Re Umberto, the road the place he lived It was one other tragic occasion within the historical past of a staff that eighteen years earlier had already needed to endure an unlimited tragedy as the Superga plane crash through which “Grande Torino” died, the strongest staff of the time.
Added to the tragedy of the loss of life of what was finally only a 24-year-old boy was an unlikely and unbelievable circumstance. A younger Torino fan, Attilio Romero, who adored Meroni and would 33 years later turn out to be Torino’s president, by chance hit and killed Meroni on the night time of October 15, 1967.
Till then, Meroni’s life, although quick, had been worthy of a film and his success in Italian soccer had been spectacular and controversial, adored and divisive.
He was an unpredictable winger, a quantity 7 of nice technical high quality, usually in comparison with Argentinian champion Omar Sivori and nicknamed “the butterfly” for the slender course and dribbling with which he superior his opponents. In a soccer like Italian, traditionally not inclined to supply gamers of those traits, Meroni represented a novelty and excited particularly the youthful ones.
“Whenever you performed towards him, you tried to anticipate him by considering of two or three issues he might have achieved, however he all the time did one other,” recalled Sandro Mazzola, son of Valentino, captain of Grande Torino and the identical age as Meroni. And in 1967, on the “Grande Inter” of Sandro Mazzola and Helenio Herrera, Meroni misplaced a Scudetto by scoring one in all his greatest objectives: a shot to return impregnable, with a kick as he went backwards, which ended up beneath the nook of the door.
He had realized to play soccer in a small courtyard of a constructing within the heart of Como, the place he was born and raised, an orphan, together with his mom and two brothers. There, in a rectangle full of youngsters, Meroni honed a expertise that was most likely innate. On the age of seventeen he was observed by Inter whereas enjoying for Libertas San Bartolomeo, a small membership in Como. Conscious that they have been coping with a participant of uncommon expertise, Inter managers moved rapidly and inside days offered the household with a contract. Nevertheless it was completely different soccer, Italy was completely different, and his mother and father did not need to know methods to ship him alone to Milan twice per week.
Nothing got here of it and Meroni ended up in Como, the place he made his Serie B debut in 1960. After simply two years he was purchased by Genoa, who had simply returned to Serie A. There he educated as a footballer and he additionally started to specific his unconventional creativity, impressed by a metropolis that at the moment was dwelling a really affluent cultural interval, with the affirmation of a technology of artists that’s nonetheless remembered at this time: that of Fabrizio By André, Bruno Lauzi, Paolo Villaggio and Luigi Tenco. , one of many few who defended Meroni from the criticism of public opinion.
Like so many different children his age in those years that may later change Italian society, which on the time was nonetheless tied in some ways to the rigidity and conformity of the previous, Meroni had a method of doing issues that many didn’t like. He wore his hair lengthy when it was nonetheless frowned upon, and had his personal method of dressing, which was seen with much more suspicion.
In Como he had labored as a designer in a textile firm and the issues he realized throughout that interval helped him develop a sure curiosity in vogue and portray. When he turned rich sufficient to afford it, he acquired into the behavior of designing his personal garments to be made by a trusted tailor. And he crammed his homes with work that he designed himself.
1963 was the yr that it started to be celebrated in newspapers, however with the recognition that they reached misunderstandings and public assaults. When he was referred to as as much as the Nationwide Reserve, for instance, he was pressured to chop his hair with a view to play. That point he did, however when he was later requested by Edmondo Fabbri, then technical commissioner, he refused and was subsequently initially excluded. In that case he was defended by Tenco, who additionally made us a track, Everyone is free, and likewise of his coach in Turin, the rugged Nereo Rocco, who mentioned mockingly: “I am afraid that if we reduce his hair, he will not be capable to play anymore, like Sansone. Apart from, he is an excellent man, regardless of his look.”
In the meantime, between objectives, assists, performs and pictures as a champion, Meroni turned an idol for the Genoa followers. When the president of Turin, the industrialist Orfeo Pianelli, provided 300 million lire for his buy, the preferred a part of Genoa’s supporters took to the streets towards the sale, which, nonetheless, was inevitable with these figures. The identical factor occurred a number of years later with the followers of Turin, when Gianni Agnelli’s Juventus got here to supply greater than 700 million lire, the very best provide ever made for a footballer in Italy .
When Meroni arrived, Torino had not received a Scudetto since 1949 and have been a good mid-table staff. However already within the first yr with him within the staff he managed to climb to 3rd place and to the semi-finals of the Recopa. In that season Meroni scored eight objectives and together with his da dribbleman and his forays down the wing helped make the complete offense higher.
Within the meantime, folks continued to name him “long-skinned”, “calimero”, “gypsy”. They described him as “the Italian Beatle”, and even, as his sister revealed, there have been those that despatched cash orders to Como’s household with the sum to ship him to the barber. On him, nonetheless, the criticism had the other impact. In a particular Rai devoted to him, when requested why he stored his hair like that he mentioned: “As a result of everybody says to chop it and I maintain it.”
In Turin he rejected the residence really helpful by the corporate and selected to dwell in a penthouse in Piazza Vittorio together with his companion, Kristiane Uderstadt, a carousel of Polish origin whom he met at his household’s honest in Genoa . For him Uderstadt left her husband, an older assistant director of Vittorio De Sica who had requested his household to marry her, as was nonetheless the customized. In Como, alternatively, the place the criticism was much more insistent, Meroni took up the behavior of strolling across the heart with a hen tied up, as a provocation.
As a footballer he continued to do particular issues, and in 1966 there have been many who believed that he was approaching full footballing maturity. However that was additionally the yr of England’s World Cup, in addition to Italy’s they were a disaster. The choice opened with a victory towards Chile through which Meroni couldn’t enter; as a substitute he performed the match towards the Soviet Union, the opponent least suited to his traits, because it consisted principally of tough and massive gamers. Italy misplaced 1-0 and within the subsequent recreation Meroni was again on the bench, though towards North Korea he would have had extra probabilities to make the distinction. Italy misplaced once more and it was a historic elimination in its time. On the way in which again, the gamers of the nationwide staff have been greeted with a vegetable launch and Meroni was one of the crucial focused, though he had solely performed one recreation.
The next season, furthermore, the coach of that World Cup, Fabbri, discovered himself in Turin, who didn’t significantly like him. There, nonetheless, Meroni was a lot cherished and it was Fabbri who needed to adapt. However that season of his solely lasted 4 video games.
On October 15, Sunday, Torino received 4-2 towards Sampdoria. Within the night some colleagues gathered as they used to do to go to dinner. Meroni, who had since moved to corso re Umberto, was within the firm of defender Fabrizio Poletti when he crossed the road beneath the home to name his girlfriend. In doing so, they have been each run over. Poletti escaped with leg trauma. In Meroni it was worse, as a result of first he was taken by the automobile of the younger Attilio Romero, after which one other that was arriving. No fault was admitted to the motorists on the time.
Meroni didn’t die immediately however arrived on the hospital dying and died within the night. For Italian soccer and for Turin it was one other tragedy to endure. When it comes to local weather and turnout, the press and TV information in contrast his funeral to these of the Superga bloodbath.
Of what occurred subsequent in Turin, the sport the next week, a derby, is remembered above all. Regardless of being underdogs, Torino received 4-0 at dwelling towards Italian champions Juventus. Three objectives have been scored by Nestor Combin, a French Argentine shut pal of Meroni who suffered a nervous breakdown in hospital on the day of his loss of life and was nonetheless in poor health throughout the week. recreation devilish, even scoring two objectives within the first seven minutes. Then, at twenty, the fourth and final aim of the match was scored by a younger substitute, Alberto Carelli, the participant who had been given the seventh jersey of Meroni.
– Learn additionally: Erno Erbstein, who died at Superga
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