Coaches, fans, parents, players, referees, staff......
This year I would like to wish you Happy Holiday by telling a tale..........
Once upon a time, more than 90 years ago, there was a kid who was living in a very little town in the Southern part of Italy in a region called Basilicata.
Considering the hard life in that area and the fact that it was almost a century ago, his family was of very modest means. Christmas and Holidays in general, were just days like all the other ones. On those special days, his father didn’t go to work, he didn’t go to school and with his mother he went to church an extra time and....................... that was it !!!
So, thanks to the Holidays, the only different thing was having a little more free time. And what could a poor kid do with a little more free time? Of course, play more ....................... SOCCER/FOOTBALL !!!!!
And because the family couldn’t afford it, don’t even dream that he had a pair of soccer shoes. Also, because he just destroyed the last pair of shoes by playing on the dirt and was beaten by his father for that (!!!!) the only way to play soccer was to do that bare foot !!! In the winter................not a great idea !!!
He was playing many hours a day and, thanks to this fact and to his natural talent, with the passing of the years he got really good at that.
Also, the economical situation of the family was getting better so they moved to the closed city, Potenza. That city had a soccer/football club that in that era was in Serie A, the top level of ‘calcio’ in Italy.
He tried-out for the youth teams and.................. they accepted him !!! He grew up and in a few years he was playing professionally in Serie A !!!!!
What a dream for a kid who played bare foot !!!!
But, the dream soon become a nightmare. All of Europe went crazy and the madness spread fast to the point that he had to leave the soccer uniform and ware another uniform in order to do this...........
Fortunately he survived but he was wounded badly in a shoulder and, worse, in a leg. Go back to playing ’calcio’ ? No way !!!!
In the meantime, because during the war he also studied mechanics and become a skillful designer engineer he had the chance to leave that poor area and moved north to a great metropolis. He went to Milan !!!!
And the first thing he did, after having found a good job as a designer engineer was to get engaged to a beautiful Milanese girl !!!
But soccer wasn’t completely forgotten. “I can’t play ? Then I will................COACH !!!”
Here are the first teams that he coached. At the bottom of the picture we can read the names of the players and, the second to the right (bottom) is Gervasoni, who had an important professional carrier.
In a while he married his fiancé and someone else came into this world, with the same passion for ’calcio’...........
When he was just 6, his father began to train him at a very high level, often with the adult team. The kid was complaining, of course, but thanks to that tough training he was able to win the National Title at 16 years old and was asked to enter the youth teams of........................ A.C.Milan !!!!
Not too bad !!!
Life was continuing very well and the coach became a scholar of the game and began to codify strategies in order to publish a book with his ideas.
Thanks to his drawing ability and his advanced mentality, he came out with ideas very futuristic for that defensive strategy era. Please consider that this deadly counter attack was envisioned in 1953 ( 58 years ago ) !!!!!
In 4 passes (indicated ======) and proper movements, the team arrives to shoot in a few seconds !!!!
But, the most unbelievable is this one from 1951 !!!
To permit you to understand the revolution of his proposal it surely will help to know that in that era, the numbers on the back of the jerseys were fix according to the role a player had on the field, so: keeper #1, defenders-backs #2-3-4-5, right wing #7, mid fields #8-6-10, center forward #9 and left wing #11.
He came out with this 3-4-3 formation in which all the players keep the shape by often exchanging positions and moving all together back and fourth. He called this strategy: Triangular System with the Wings Back. Please check the drawing below to better understand.......
As you can see, in a very fluid constant motion, the 2 mid fielders #8 and #10 can move up as forwards and the 2 wings #7 and #11 sprint to the middle covering the positions left open by the midfielders and keeping the correct shape. Also, one of the four defenders-backs (#4) comes up wide on the right wing and the mid fielder (#6) goes wide at the left wing. By doing this, even if they constantly move, they always cover the whole field and the distance between the players being very short, this fact permits them to play possession because every player always has many solutions until the final pass (assist) that will lead to score.
It doesn’t takes a soccer/football genius to understand that this is exactly what Barcelona does today (!!!!) in it’s endless possession and keeping the shape. The incredible thing is that this scheme is from 1951, 60 years ago when I was 3 years old.
Of course, being a very creative person and an exceptional designer the step to become a painter was very simple. He studied at the Accademia Cimabue to improve his drawing and painting and at the world acclaimed Accademia di Brera where he studied watercolor.
Here are two examples of his ability and versatility. A warm still life.........
contrasting with this ancestral and surreal swamp !!!!
And here’s a portrait of him done by his friend and top Italian painter Gianfrancesco Gonzaga.
Why did I write all of this instead of whishing you Happy Holidays, as I wrote in the subject ?
Because this top soccer/football player, this top futuristic coach and top artist, is my father and he passed away last month.
As you noticed, I wrote ‘is my father’ not ‘was’ because, besides living forever in hundreds of paintings (dozens of which I distributed among his friends in Italy), he is in every instruction that I give to my soccer students and so, as long as they apply my instructions, my father will always be there on the fields with them and I hope that a few of them, one day, will become coaches and continue to transfer forward his legacy.
Happy Holidays to all of you and your Families.
p.s. part of the legacy is the appreciation of beauty in all it’s manifestations at 360 degrees around us. Here’s a clear example..............
Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See! You were there just for eating something and then.........magic happened !!!!
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