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Other unforgettable moments in soccer.

A few months ago, I wrote about unforgettable moments in soccer. I ended that article by promising that I’d write about others. So here I’m keeping my promise.

Decades ago in Italy, the Naples team was at the level of Juventus, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan.

Maradona had brought a winning mentality to them. A team that was barely surviving at the bottom of the standing almost falling into the B division every year, was fighting to win the championship.

Most of you are not Italian (too bad), but you can clearly understand the rivalry between a city from central Italy that’s struggling to survive, compared to a northern metropolis like Milano, the world capital of fashion, design and other crucial businesses. Very often when Europeans think about choosing a capital of Europe, Milano is one of the few choices.

So, there are great rivalries multiplied by hundreds when on the soccer field.

Naples and A.C. Milan lead the standing for the whole season until, almost the end of it, when they had to play each other at the Naples stadium.

It was a great game, with spectacular alternate action in both directions. Milan scored, Naples tied and the game kept going. In a certain moment, A.C. Milan, as happened many other times, had 10 unstoppable minutes in which they scored two times, going to 3-1. At that moment all 76,000 spectators for the Naples team, raised and clapped their hands for A.C. Milan, their ‘soccer enemy’, accepting the defeat and recognizing the superiority of the other team. It was something really rare in the history of soccer that makes the people of Naples ‘unique’ as fans and good citizens.

I can’t forget that, as I can’t forget Marco Van Basten. This unbelievably good and very unlucky player, won everything it’s possible to win with A.C. Milan. With the National team of Holland, he won the European Cup, scoring a goal that is considered one of the most spectacular goals of the century.

I said unlucky because, while still young, he suffered a bad heal injury and for years he went through dozens of surgeries in the desperate attempt to rebuild his tendon. Many times he went through months of rehabilitation, training and game tests, but every time went back to the hospital to start over.

After the forth time, Marco decided to retire at a very young age.

To see him in the center of the A.C. Milan Stadium, in front of 80,000 spectators, singing his name, saying ‘good-bye’ to soccer, holding his soccer cleats above his head, is something that breaks my soccer heart every time I think about it.

Life, sometimes, is very cruel, particularly in sports. But, for every athlete who has to give up, there are others who win their battles.

Just a few months ago, Filippo ‘Pippo’ Inzaghi, the center forward of A.C. Milan and the National Team of Italy, the Azzurri, finally came back after a year of surgery and rehabilitation, from an injury very similar to that of Marco Van Basten.

Shevchenko was injured and the coach, Carlo Ancelotti, decided to put him on the field with Gilardino. It was a courageous decision because the two players are very similar and tend to get in each others way.

Milan went down but was able to tie with Gattuso. When it seemed that the tie was O.K. for both teams, Inzaghi invented a goal that only HE could score. To see him, run to his team’s bench and be submerged by his teammates and the coaching staff, reminded me of when Marco had to give up.

If we have the patience to wait, life always gives back what was taken. It’s only a matter of time! Now Marco Van Basten is the coach of the National Holland team and it seems that at this World Cup in June, they have a great possibly to succeed.

Coach Gianni
Posted on 21 Mar 2006 by coachgianni
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