Talking about Italian football, this book includes a tale of inspired players, skilled coaches, rich tycoons, glitzy media coverage, Mafia corruption, drug scandals and fan power. It is a personalised reflection on the consistent and continuing excellence of Italian football, throughout a period of huge social, political and economic upheaval.
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 travelling 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, whilst 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 organised criminal type. From Maradona to Shevchenko and from Platini to Totti, "Calcio" 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 personalised reflection on the consistent and continuing excellence of Italian football throughout a period of huge social, political and economic upheaval. "Calcio" offers a unique insight into a society, where football has always been much more than just a game.