LAZIO

Alessandro Nesta won all that there is as a player, and he did it with dignity and class. He came from a breed of defenders that made defending an art, executing slide tackles with the utmost timing and grace.

Widely considered to be one of the best centre backs of his generation, he played over 200 games for Lazio in nine seasons and was a key component in Lazio's 'golden age' of the late nineties.

Nesta's performances and success for Lazio during this period earned him three consecutive Serie A Defender of the Year awards between 2000 and 2002.

Financial problems for Lazio and then President Sergio Cragnotti led to the sale of Nesta to Milan in 2002 for €30,987,000. During this time, he would form a formidable defensive line alongside Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Alessandro Costacurta and Jaap Stam, among others.

Alessandro Nesta assumed the Lazio team captaincy in 1997 under Sven-Göran Eriksson aged just 20, and helped the Biancocelesti win the 1998 Coppa Italia against Milan, in which he scored the winning goal. Nesta was awarded the Serie A Young Footballer of the Year Award that same season and would go on to become one of the finest defenders of his generation.

Michael Laudrup impressed in the 1983 season for Brøndby, and was sold for a Danish transfer record to defending Serie A champions Juventus.
He was due to sign for Liverpool the same year on a 3-year contract, but Liverpool at the last minute changed the contract to 4 years and Laudrup decided not to join.

Laudrup's career would go on to be spectacular but it didnt go immediatly to plan. Under restriction of a maximum two foreign players in each team, of which Juventus already had Boniek and Platini, Laudrup was initially loaned to newly promoted Rome club Lazio for a single season, something that Laudrup had not been informed about before signing. 

With Lazio, he scored two goals in his Serie A debut in a 2–4 loss to Verona. In his first year at the club, Lazio narrowly avoided relegation, but with still no place available at Juve, Laudrup had to stay for another year. Lazio started the 1984–85 season badly, and they finished dead last and were relegated to Serie B, with Laudrup scoring just a single goal that season.

The Derby della Capitale, the Rome derby, between Lazio and their main rivals AS Roma and is amongst the most heated and emotional footballing rivalries in the world. Both teams despise the arrogance from the Northern teams of Milan and Turin but they hate each other more.

AS Roma is the team supported in the popular roman districts while Lazio support is more from the richer districts of the city. The political differences between the fans used to be one of the reasons for this rivalry. The 'Biancocelesti' in general had right-wing idea's while the Roma fans were more left-wing orientated.

His performance at Euro 1996, including a goal in the group stage match against Italy, attracted attention from several European giants; despite a verbal agreement with PSV Eindhoven, Nedvěd moved from Sparta Prague to Lazio, signing a four-year contract for a fee of ₤1.2 million.
He became an integral part of the side, and would go on to become probably the most dynamic midfielder in Italy.

However with money running out Lazio had to offload its star players. Despite Nedvěd signing a new four-year contract with Lazio in April 2001, the club tried to sell him and teammate Juan Sebastián Verón that summer; this triggered fan protests against club president Sergio Cragnotti. The players were ultimately sold to Juventus and Manchester United, respectively.

Marcelo Salas never played more than 100 games for a any single club and only played in Italy for five years, but for Lazio, in the years 1998–2001, he was a key catalyst in helping turn around a team that hadn't won a Scudetto since 1974.

Lazio's second title success came in chaotic circumstances in the 1999-2000 season as a team bankrolled by Cirio magnate Sergio Cragnotti, coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson and inspired by the likes of Salas, Veron, Nesta, Simeone and Nedved snatched glory away from Juventus on the final day of the campaign, with the Turin side all but needing to beat lowly Perugia.

With the 'Biancocelesti' Salas also won an Italian cup, a Cup Winners' Cup and a European Super Cup, scoring the match's only goal in the latter, in a 1-0 win over Manchester United.
In 2001 he was transferred to Juventus where Salas would endure the worst moments of his career; he was hampered by injuries, allowing him to participate in only 14 games and scoring just 2 goals in two seasons and was eventually loaned to River Plate.

The man known as El Fenómeno, Marcelo Salas had a truly wonderful left foot and won a staggering amount in the air for a 5ft 8ins striker.

In his time at Lazio and Juventus he won Serie A three times, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Super Cup and the Supercoppa Italiana three times.

In the Nineties Paul Gascoigne was generally recognised as one of the greatest talents English football had ever produced.
At the peak of 'gazzamania' he joined Lazio for a fee of £5.5 million, making his debut in Sept 1992 in a match against Genoa which was televised in Britain as well as Italy.

A fans favourite, he scored his first goal in the 89th minute to equalise during the Rome derby against AS Roma. But he failed to fully settle in Italy and, beset by media interest and injury, moved to Rangers in 1995.
'The pitch was the only place where I felt safe, secure and good about myself. I knew I was better than anyone else playing that day. I really did.'

Paul Gascoigne was judged to be the man capable of leading Lazio into the light. The man who would kick-start a prosperous era under the new ownership of food tycoon, Sergio Cragnotti. However, whilst their club had signed a player of unquestionable talent, his was a talent underpinned by fragility, both physically and psychologically.

He was the marquee signing Cragnotti craved. But having agreed a fee of £8.5m – an astronomical sum for the pre-Murdoch First Division days – Gazza ruptured cruciate ligaments during the 1991 FA Cup final.
The setback was the first of many career-stymieing injuries, and unsurprisingly, Lazio sought instant renegotiations. The Italian’s sent a medical team to examine the player and a revised fee of £5.5 million was agreed, still a British record at the time.

True to form his jokes on team-mates and club staff were relentless. To name but a few: he put a massive ray fish on Beppe Signori's windscreen, he slipped a dead snake in Roberto Di Matteo’s jacket pocket, he took Dino Zoff’s whistle, attached it to a Turkey and released the bird on the training field, and, according to Zoff himself, Gazza had a propensity to turn up to team dinners naked.

Lazio's traditional club badge and symbol is the eagle, which was chosen by founding member Luigi Bigiarelli, in 1900. It is an acknowledgment to the emblem of the ellenic Zeus (the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology) commonly known as the Aquila; Lazio's use of the symbol has led to two of their nicknames; le Aquile (the Eagles) and Aquilotti (Young Eagles).

Lazio's colours of sky blue and white were inspired by the national flag of Greece. Due to the fact that Lazio is a mixed sports club it was inspired and in recognition of the Ancient Olympic Games. 
Recently the club bought an American bald eagle, from Benfica, copying a tradition employed for decades by the Lisbon side, and the fans came up with the name 'Olympia' for the bird. 

Even the mascots of fierce rivals Roma and Lazio clash; Lazio's eagle is the sacred animal of Jupiter, while Roma's symbol is the wolf, the animal associated with Mars, the god war.

Lazio were forcibly relegated to Serie B in 1980 due to a remarkable scandal concerning illegal bets on their own matches, along with AC Milan. They remained in Italy's second division for three years in what would mark the darkest period in Lazio's history.

The 'Eagles' would return in 1983 and manage a last-day escape from relegation, but, despite having Micheal Laudrup on loan from Juventus, finished dead last the following season.

Born in the capital Giordano soon revealed himself to be one of the most effective Italian strikers, winning the Serie A capocannoniere title during the 1978–79 season, scoring 19 goals.
With his powerful and accurate shooting the fans regarded him as the heir of Lazio's all-time top scorer Giorgio Chinaglia.

In 1980, he was arrested under the charge of participating in the national footballing betting scandal, and he was banned from the Italian championship until 1982.
Lazio had been demoted to the Serie B following their involvement in the scandal, and upon his return to competitive football, Giordano became the Serie B top goalscorer during the 1982 season, helping his team back into Serie A.

In 1985, he was sold to Napoli for 5 billion lire where along with Diego Maradona and later Careca, he formed the famed "Ma-Gi-Ca" front line.
Giordano, and the rest of the attacking trio, was instrumental in Napoli's first historical scudetto win of 1987.

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