Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy birthday, Roby!

Much has been said about all the bad things to do with Italian football of late. So it is nice to celebrate something good. Today is Roberto Baggio's 40th birthday. The only sad thing about it, really, is that he is no longer gracing the fields of Serie A.

Baggio is probably my favourite all-time Italian player (a straight fight with Giancarlo Antognoni). I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard about him (in a small pizzeria with some friends). And just how thrilling his first impact with both Fiorentina and Italy was. He never quite had the same effect at the big three - Juve, Milan and Inter - preferring to save his best for smaller sides like Bologna and Brescia later in his career. You always got the feeling that he needed to be loved to produce his best.

A fragile figure, he underwent serious knee surgery as a youngster when the Viola signed him from Vicenza. He became an idol of the Fiesole and his transfer to Juve provoked riots in the streets. His goal against Czechoslovakia at Italia '90 remains one of the greatest in the history of the Mondiali. His performance for Fiorentina against Dynamo Kiev in the UEFA Cup the stuff of legend. On an icy pitch, his poise and elegance was there for all to see.

I can only speculate how he might be celebrating his 40th year. Possibly out shooting or meditating (what a man of contradictions). Whatever he is up to, I hope he is thinking about coming back to football in some way soon. Ci manchi tanto, Roby! Buon compleanno!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcTS9H0usf0

5 comments:

patcook said...

Baggio is my favorite player of all time, when I was younger my first jersey was a AC Milan one with Baggio on the back which even today enjoys regular rotation in my younger brothers closet. Unfortunetly I think Roberto likes to stay out of the spotlight for the majority of time so i dont see him returning in any capacity but i would love to see another Italian with his skill set the world on fire.

TrentToffee said...

Poise and elegance indeed. A phrase that perfectly describes him. It's a great shame that he never got that WC winners medal. As one of the greatest players of his generation he deserved one.

But, I think his single biggest contribution (for me at least) was that he made football exciting again. This after a decade of football being deserted by the masses (certainly in England & Scotland).

A decent man and a dedicated professional. A great example of a true sportsman. if only there were more like him around today.

I hope he remains in the game in a coaching capacity of some sort, but, not a managerial role. He's got more to offer than that.

ginkers said...

Pat

Do you think Baggio was used as much as he should have been by Milan? I always got the feeling they saw him as a bit of a luxury and did not play him as often as they could have.

Trent

If you check out his website, robertobaggio.com, you can keep up to date with what he is up to from now on, apparently. I can't see him coaching either - unless maybe in a spiritual way!

patcook said...

I agree with you but I love any great player that plays for milan, whether their from the youth system like paolo maldini or just come on a one year loan like hernan crespo. i was and am disappointed he didn't get more games or stay longer at milan but im happy that atleast he got to wear the jersey for awhile.

Anonymous said...

Yes, www.robertobaggio.com is back on line and Roby is blogging and reading comments. I've sent him my message.

I think his managers wanted to show that they were bigger and better than him by trying to win without him. Time and time again he save Inter's culo, no better example than the spareggio for CL qualification against Parma, his last game for Inter, scored 2 pearlers and got them through, only for Inter to blow their qualifying CL tie the next season without him.

And there's a goal I've seen a few times for Inter, against whom I can't recall. Roby comes off the bench and scores the winner and the commentator goes nuts (in Italian) saying something like "when he's on the park this is what happens".

The greatest ever Italian player, and should have been a walk-up start for the Azzurri from the start of his career until the end.