Five Legendary Italian Snubs

Antonio Cassano was once again overlooked by Italy coach Marcello Lippi this week, and there are fears that his international career could be over. Carlo Garganese looks back at five great Italians who were snubbed by the Azzurri.

1) Attila Sallustro

Caps: 2
Goals: 1

The first footballing God in Naples, a long time before Diego Armando Maradona, was the great Attila Salustro during the 1920s and 30s. ‘Il Divino’, who was born in Paraguay to Italian parents and moved to Naples as a youngster, was an extremely gifted attacker who scored 107 goals in 258 appearances for the Partenopei from 1925-37. Despite this record, Sallustro won only two Italy caps, scoring one goal. This was mainly due to the presence of the legendary Giuseppe Meazza, who played in the same position. Off the pitch, the tall and good-looking Salustro was the Rudolph Valentino of his age, and all Neapolitan women were in love with him.

2) Giorgio Chinaglia

Caps: 14
Goals: 4

Chinaglia was so big in Rome that stories about the Pope would be relegated to page three of the local papers in order to make way for ‘Long John’. The striker scored 98 goals at Lazio between 1969 and 1976, and was the main reason for their 1974 Scudetto triumph, firing home a whopping 24 and winning the Capoacannoniere crown. A beast of a frontman, Chinaglia was also a controversial character, and eventually this cost him his Italy career. During a World Cup clash with Haiti, Chinaglia was substituted and cursed at coach Ferruccio Valcareggi. He then proceeded to trash the changing room, reportedly smashing up eight water bottles. This act of aggression basically ended his international career on just 14 caps and four goals.

3) Evaristo Beccalossi

Caps: 0

Beccalossi was worshipped by Inter fans during his time at the club between 1978 and 1984. The playmaker possessed perfect technique, brilliant dribbling skills, and a delicious left foot. He was a major protagonist in the 1980 Scudetto success, and created many of Alessandro Altobelli’s goals. The pair formed a stunning partnership, and Beccalossi chipped in with many goals himself. He scored seven in the 16-team Serie A in 1980 and 1981, and was Inter’s top scorer with nine the following season. Beccalossi was never capped by Italy, with coach Enzo Bearzot preferring Fiorentina’s Giancarlo Antognoni.

4) Agostino Di Bartolomei

Caps: 0

Before Francesco Totti and Giuseppe Giannini, the pride of Rome was Agostino Di Bartolomei. In 15 years at the club, ‘Ago’ played 308 games, scored 66 goals, and captained the team 146 times. The deep-lying playmaker was in the mould of Andrea Pirlo, a genius of a passer, who could spot any through ball and hit pinpoint 60-yard passes to a team-mates feet. Also possessing a rocket of a shot, he led Roma to the 1983 Scudetto, and was man-of-the-match as they tragically lost on penalties to Liverpool in the European Cup final the following year. Ago, who committed suicide in 1994, was scandalously never capped by Italy, as Bearzot opted for the more defensive Gabriele Oriali and Marco Tardelli. For a detailed biography on Di Bartolomei, please click on this link.

5) Roberto Pruzzo

Caps: 6
Goals: 0

Another member of Roma’s greatest ever team from the early 1980s who was consistently overlooked by his country. Centre forward Pruzzo was a goal machine, and in 10 years in the Eternal City between 1978 and 1988, he rippled the back of the net 106 times in just 240 league games. Considering how mean Italian defences were back then, this is some ratio. Pruzzo was three times Serie A Capocannoniere, he is the only player to ever score five goals in a league game, and he was Roma’s scorer during the fatal defeat to Liverpool. Despite his exploits, Pruzzo was only capped by Italy a miserly six times. First Roberto Bettega, and then Paolo Rossi, was tagged as the Azzurri hitman, and Pruzzo only went to one major tournament – Euro 1980 – where he did not play a single minute.

What are your views on this topic? Can you name any other great Italian players, such as Paolo Di Canio, who were snubbed by the Azzurri?

Carlo Garganese