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1930s: Meazza to become centre-half?

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-04-26 13:08:32

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.

Necessary premise. The confessions that follow, and which bear the signature of Giuseppe Meazza, are not of 1943, but date back to a few years ago. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridges, but the one who became famous despite having made as "Balilla" of Italian football, several changes in his sporting activity (passage from Ambrosiana to Milan and from Milan to Juventus, as well as frequent returns — in black and white shirt — to the primitive role of centre-forward), he never left the front line; for which the quasi-promise contained in the closing of the "confessions" of him and relative to the building of Meazza to centre-half ("when? Who knows"), has now so little chance of being maintained that it has to be considered without follow-up. By Giuseppe Meazza
Perhaps, if the famous piede gelato had not been involved, the Italian football fans could have loved a new type of pivot, the centrosostegno sornione like Meazza and it would have been studied to be. But even if this has not happened (it could, however, still occur, perhaps only for the time), the technical — autobiographical considerations of the classic football player deserve attention.
That great coach who is Tóth often told me when he was at the Ambrosiana in the 1931-32 season: — You, dear Meazza, one day or another will have to play centre-half. Indeed, I predict that in the middle of the second line you will play your career-ending matches.
And such was the security of the good man, that in the end I was convinced that I had what it takes to play centre-half. And to myself I was thinking about the previous forwards used in the most difficult place on the team. Cevenini III., Bernardini, Janni, the Hungarians Bukovi and Kalmár not to mention Sárosi, who however started as a centre-half and was able to play very well as a centre-forward. Mortgage on the future.
Many times, when some friend introduced me to people who were not entirely familiar with football, to my interlocutor who asked: Meazza? The football player? And what posicion does he play in? I replied, sure not to tell a lie: centre-forward today. But tomorrow centre-half!
That mortgage on my future had now become the obsession. I must also say that I took a first step towards the center when Pozzo, finding himself in front of two centre-forwards — Schiavio and myself —, found nothing better than to repeat what Meisl had done with Sindelar and Gschweidl. Schiavio remained centre-attack, I was flanked by him as a inside right and, to tell the truth, I didn't feel bad. With Schiavio, I developed a fraction such as to convince even the Ambrosiana managers to place me for a couple of games in the inside right. But, if I had immediately reached a full technical and tactical agreement with Schiavio, with others I was not able to combine much concrete, so much so that the nero-azzurri technicians soon brought me back to the center of the attack.
The blow of letting me pass, without particular training, without knowing perfectly how to play, was attempted one fine day by the Ambrosiana in center support. Faccio was the ideal pivot. He could be seen everywhere and particularly in the defensive game he rose a notch above his colleagues aliri. But Faccio, that year, had already been expelled from the field twice and consequently disqualified. For the first expulsion he had been put on foot for two games. The Ambrosiana had provided as it seemed most logical: with the move to the center of Pitto who, in that role, had already played even in the national team. But Pitto, certainly out of the way, had not found himself well, and in the second match Ghidini was tried (against Bologna) and he was able to assert himself. Faccio rejoined the ranks and remained there until he met with a second expulsion in Trieste. He was given a Sunday of disqualification. The experiment.
Being injured, Ghidini and not wanting to repeat the Pitto experiment, coach Feldmann thought of me. Feldmann is Tóth's brother-in-law, and when Tóth was the alienator of Inter, Feldmann was also among us being unemployed at that time. It is logical that the opinion of the one was also the opinion of the aliro. The fact is that Feldmann came straight to me, and: — Meazza, on Sunday you will perform at the center of the second line.
I objected:
— But I've never played.
And Feldmann: — Remember Bernardini. Meanwhile, he knows that Allesandria is on the scene, so it is not out of place to foresee an offensive match. You will make those passes to the forwards that you use to do when you play centre-forward, and everything will turn out for the best.
Sure, everything will be for the best. I understood on the pitch how burdensome and difficult the post of center support is. Inplant Alexandria, strong of a point scored in the first minutes of the game, threw themselves into the fight body and soul, and what should have been on paper a game of technique and a walk for our front line conspired by a center support who knows how to play. on the attack, it became instead a battle game. It is worth repeating that in the second half the audience understood that the Meazza experiment at the center of the median was at least... premature! The fact is that from the stands they shouted:
— Meazza on the attack! Meazza on the attack!
Feldmann too had understood that the fruits were not yet ripe and he made me return to my natural place.
Was Tóth wrong in predicting a centre-half Meazza? It is a question that I will only be able to answer when I have closed my career as a football player. A judgment on Piola.
However, I believe that players are born for a position and specialize in shooting with training and temperament. It is true that Janni played centre-forward for a while, and indeed, made his debut in this role in the national team in Duisburg, but he proved to be worth much more as a centre-half.
Bernardini played indifferently on the attack and in the center of the half-back line, but Bernardini had completely different qualities from those of Meazza. The lightning bolt has never been the prerogative of my very friend Fulvio, who was much more at ease than him in mid-court, where he could impose his calm and intelligent game.
Cevenini III. — it is true — was tried in the center of the second line, when a painful accident during the game deprived the international team of Pino Fossati for some time, but a footballer who generally played as insider, that is to say, was played in that role, in a place where you have to work hard and where parking in the center of the field is not only expected, but not recommended.
I have insisitively heard of Piola, who, as a centre-forward blaster of goals, could be used as a centre-half. I believe that Piola, a player endowed with enviable athletic means and provided with a truly excellent class, could also play centre-half with great success. And I explain it: Piola, very exuberant (not for nothing was he born in Vercelli) is a centre-forward of the "worker" genre. Rarely does he tend to have his teammates pass the ball to him: Piola knows how to go look for the ball and if he works it, and with that he overtakes opponents on opponents and finds a way to play on the net these dangerous shots that all goalkeepers know. When you have Silvio Piola's innate vitality and exuberance, you can try to play in the center of the second line without worries. Piola centre-half, he will certainly not be a technician like Bernardini or like Monti, but he will be a radiator of energy like Janni and like Milano I. Like in billiards.
As for me... Here, I will give you a confidence. I was born and raised in a team where technique is perhaps used to excess. I like to play with line mates, like playing blliards. An effect here, a pass there, and almost always stretch to the all. I play centre-forward and I am in love with my place, even though Tóth told me that I will have to fall in love with the centre-half position. For now, that's my place. Who knows, it may actually be that one day, when the full-backs will watch me even more carefully than they wake me now, when I realize that my muscles will not give me in the penalty area that shot that is so necessary to achieve an action of attack, ask the coach to be proved center support. But be sure: that day I will try to imitate Bernardini's game more than Janni's. Then the seasons will have passed and I will have more experience, which will allow me to make up for those qualities of exuberance necessary for a mediocre center.
So, I repeat, it may be that we have to witness the performance of a sly center-back. When? Maybe! For now, settle for a centerpiece that, as such, is perhaps worth something.