This month celebrates a quarter century since an unknown twenty-something called James Richardson emerged as a staple in our lives via Channel 4’s groundbreaking coverage of Serie A.
With his full head of hair, elegant piazzas in the background and a mountainous, semi-melting gelato or tasty-looking cornetto in the foreground beaming into our living rooms every Saturday morning, Richardson’s weekly run through of the Italian newspapers followed by his now well-established pun-tastic delivery became the stuff of legend.
The Gazzetta Football Italia era lasted for 10, outstanding years and would become the gold standard for all future football magazine shows. Often replicated but never bettered. It’s firmly entrenched in ‘90s pop culture and calls have been made over the years to bring the format back.
In honour of the iconic show and having trawled through all ten seasons. The following are the 25 greatest goals from a period that saw Serie A go down as the finest domestic league in the history of the sport.
To keep the list interesting, a player is limited to a single appearance (the entire 25 could’ve been compiled of goals from Roberto Baggio and Alvaro Recoba otherwise) and dead balls are denied entry.
Of course not everyone will agree with the list, so let your opinions be known.
25. Marciano Vink vs Sampdoria 1993/94
You’re probably asking who is Marciano Carlos Alberto Vink, and for good reason. Vink was a Dutch right back that had his career cut short through injury, retiring at the age of 28. Vink only played a handful of games for Genoa upon signing in 1993 and would leave at the end of this season to return to Holland.
Named after the legendary World Cup winner, Vink channels his inner Brazilian as he goes on a mazy dribble, and simply keeps on running, past half the Sampdoria team. The finish is a little underwhelming but the run is anything but.
24. Massimo Agostini vs Genoa 1992/93
Not to give away further spoilers, but you will find several bicycle kick goals on this list, but what you won’t find is a bicycle kick assist for an overhead kick goal. This is a collector’s item, a rare species of goal. The initial attempt from Felice Centofanti (a defender no less) was spectacular in itself – his execution flawless – rattling off the Genoa crossbar before Agostini decides to emulate his teammate and go one better. The match ended in a 4-4 draw during a period in which Ancona were involved in some truly outlandish score lines.
23. Zvonimir Boban vs Lecce 1993/94
The silky Croatian’s first league goal for Milan was undoubtedly his finest. The instant control with his knee, the deft flick past the onrushing defender teed up the ball to be hit, and hit it he did. Boban is a hugely underrated player in the context of 1990s Milan history. He had the misfortune to be constantly surrounded by players that were slightly more gifted or garnered more profile, yet that shouldn’t take away from the quality he possessed, as evidenced by this goal.
22. Marcio Amoroso vs Parma 1998/99
While many will focus on the strike itself, the key to it all is Amoroso’s incredible agility. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the Brazilian instantly controls the high ball with his chest and immediately shifts on to his left in the blink of an eye, and thus turning defender Luigi Sartor inside out before lashing the ball past Gigi Buffon, all in swift motion. Unsurprisingly, Parma signed Amoroso the following season but he would never again hit the heights of 1998/99.
21. Marcelo Salas vs Milan 1999/00
The fourth goal in a pulsating 4-4 draw between the current Serie A champions and the team who would supersede them as champions at the Stadio Olympico. Salas was at the peak of his career in 1999/00, scoring twelve goals, and none were better than this. The cross from winger Sergio Conceição was inch perfect; Salas was the only Lazio player in Milan’s penalty box. The Chilean called upon all of his neck muscles to plant the header past Christian Abbiati into the corner. The classic Uhlsport ball gives the goal extra nostalgic points.
20. Paul Gascoigne vs Pescara 1992/93
The man who is responsible for this list, and indeed the entire Italian football pop culture movement in the UK. Gascoigne merely showed glimpses of his talent during his troubled time in Italy. His first goal was an equaliser in the Rome derby; his next goal was classic Gascoigne. Picking the ball up in midfield, he slalomed his way through the Pescara defence; beating four players in a congested central area just outside the penalty box before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
It was a reminder, amid all the controversy, anarchy and wisecracks, of what Gazza could do with a ball at his feet.
19. Ronaldo vs Milan 1997/98
Lets establish one thing; the cross from Francesco Moriero is marvellous, but the goal is all about the pace of Ronaldo. That blistering, explosive, unhinged pace that defined this Ronaldo. Witnessing him during his golden period, which ended at the World Cup final, was simply a joy.
As Moriero strikes the ball, Ronaldo is just about level with Ibrahim Ba and several yards behind Marcel Desailly, and yet by the time he reaches the ball to brilliantly lob it over the onrushing Sebastian Rossi, both players are in the dust. Other Ronaldo goals might have been technically superior, but this one perfectly encapsulates pre-injury Ronaldo. Il Fenomeno indeed.
18. Gianluca Vialli vs Cremonese 1994/95
Vialli is as close to a overhead kick specialist as you’re likely to find in the history of Serie A. He had been a major disappointment for Juventus since signing from Sanpdoria in 1992, but in his third season he found his form and was instrumental in ending Juve’s nine-year title wait.
Known as a rovesciata in Italian, Vialli mastered the art of the overhead kick. He scored several in 1994/95, however the one against the club where he first made his name stands out above the rest. Reacting quickly to a Fabrizio Ravanelli header, Vialli, who was being aggressively marked by a Cremonese defender, had little room for maneuver yet somehow pulled off the acrobatics as the ball smashed off the underside of the bar and in. Masterful.
17. Juan Sebastian Veron vs Udinese 1999/00
There’s something about a first time volley that’s visually spectacular; the speed at which the ball travels towards the back of the net has the ability to render one speechless. Enter Juan Seba Veron.
Lazio finished second in the 1998/99 season, a point behind champions Milan, the following year they would win their first title since 1974. Veron was the difference maker. Signed from Parma in the summer of 1999, he added guile and class to what was a very robust Lazio midfield.
Against Udinese, another perfectly weighted cross from Sergio Conceição, who burst down the right, found Veron roaring into the Udinese penalty box. The Argentine connected beautifully to send the ball crashing into the net from close range.
16. Luiso vs Milan 1996/97
Some overhead kicks are spontaneous; a moment of whimsical genius that players don’t or can’t often deliberate on in the heat of the moment. This goal however is the opposite of such rationale. This is planned.
Receiving the ball with his back to the Milan goal, Luiso – having his breakthrough season – was being tightly marked by Billy Costacurta inside the box. Costacurta seemingly had the Piacenza striker where he wanted him, Luiso had nowhere to go and the only viable option was to pass the ball backwards. He had other ideas.
The fact that it was the winning goal in a 3-2 thriller made the strike even sweeter for Luiso – a Milan fan – and his exploits that season secured a big money move to…Vicenza.
Read Football Italia at 25: Celebrating Gazzetta’s Greatest Golaccios (Part II) here
Read Football Italia at 25: Celebrating Gazzetta’s Greatest Golaccios (Part III) here
Words by Emmet Gates: @Emmet Gates
Emmet is a freelance football writer based in Italy. He is the author of Goal O’The Times and as well as The Gentleman Ultra, he has written for FourFourTwo, These Football Times and In Bed With Maradona.