Affectionately known as “Schizzo”, Marco Tardelli is an iconic figure of international football. A highly decorated player and integral part of Juve’s mid-80s golden era, he is most remembered worldwide for that celebratory scream, following his goal vs. West Germany at the FIFA World Cup of 1982.
With the Old Lady, Tardelli won five Serie A Scudetti (1976-77, 1977-78, 1980-81, 1981-82 and 1983-84), the European Cup (1985), the UEFA Cup (1977) and the Cup Winner’s Cup (1984). Juventus, with their 1985 European Cup final win over Liverpool at Heysel, became the first club to ever win all three major European competitions, and Tardelli is one of the select few players to achieve the same rare distinction.
Many years after his playing career retirement, Tardelli has never strayed too far away from a Juventus connection. Now assisting Ireland’s Boys in Green alongside his former Juve boss Giovanni Trapattoni, he will soon reunite with another ex-Juventino at UEFA’s 2012 European Champions in Poland/Ukraine, when Ireland face off against Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri.
This piece takes a look of how things evolved from Tardelli’s playing days with Juve and the Azzurri, to a developing managerial career that intends to continue well beyond the Emerald Isle, always with a small dash of Black & White.
During his playing days, Tardelli was a hard-nosed, no-nonsense, defensive midfielder who didn’t take any prisoners. Former Tottenham Hotspur and England international, Jimmy Greaves, once said: “Tardelli is responsible for more scar tissue than all of the surgeons at Harsfield Hospital put together“.
Tardelli was born in 1954 in Capanne di Careggine in the Italian region of Tuscany. His professional playing career began with third division side, Pisa, in 1972. Tardelli then played for Como in Serie B, before his big move to Juventus in 1975. It was the year before a certain Giovanni Trapattoni began his highly successful decade on the Bianconeri bench, assembling a group of young players, many of which were also groomed for starring roles with the Italian national team.
On August 27, 1975, Tardelli made his Bianconeri debut in a Coppa Italia match vs. Taranto, a straightforward 2-0 victory with goals from Franco Causio and Roberto Bettega. His first game in the famous Black & White shirt was a difficult one for Tardelli, still only 20 years old, as he told La Stampa:
My legs were shaking, I did not understand anything, just wandering around the field and I almost struggled to move due to the emotion. Then, I remembered that I could play football and everything went smoothly.
Continuing to play in both full-back positions (a testament to his stamina, ability with both feet, and tactical awareness) as he had during his spells with both Pisa and Como, Tardelli’s first season would ultimately be uneventful. The Bianconeri finished second (behind city cousins Torino) in what proved to be Carlo Parolo’s final year on the bench. Parolo’s replacement however, a certain Giovanni Trapattoni, would strike up a strong bond with Tardelli that still continues to this day. The years that followed Il Trap‘s arrival in the summer of 1976 would prove to be the most successful spell in Juve’s history. The legendary coach assembled a group of talented young players, that would not only win club honours in Turin but would go on to international glory with the Italian national team as well.
A major difference in Trapattoni’s first season was the shifting of Tardelli into central midfield, necessary due to the departure of Fabio Capello to Milan and the arrival of Antonio Cabrini at left-back. The neo-midfielder’s first experience of this new role would come at the annual summer friendly at Villar Perosa and Tardelli would never look back, blossoming to form a superb partnership with Beppe Furino that would be among the best the club has ever seen.
In 1976-77, not only would the Bianconeri top the Serie A table, but the club enjoyed a successful run in Europe as well. Juventus would defeat both Manchester clubs and Shakhtar Donetsk (against whom Tardelli would score a vital goal) before going on to face Athletic Bilbao in the UEFA Cup final. The player would net the only goal of the first leg, contributing to the 2-2 aggregate tie and the Bianconeri’s first ever international trophy.
Tardelli would continue to play a vital role at the club, scoring key goals in Juve’s 1979 Coppa Italia run and 1984 Cup Winners Cup triumph, but would contribute less to the attack as he and Furino provided the perfect platform from which Michel Platini could thrive. After defeating Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, Trapattoni would ask the midfielder to play an even more defensive role. Although he netted a key goal in the Quarter Final stage of the competition, it was in this deeper position Tardelli would help Juventus lift the 1985 European Cup, as he and Massimo Bonini protected the team’s defence while Platini, Zbigniew Boniek and Paolo Rossi tormented the opposition.
That same Summer, at the highest peak of his club career, Tardelli would leave Juventus, spending short spells at both Internazionale and FC St. Gallen (Nationalliga A, top tier of the Swiss Football League) before his retirement in 1988. Tardelli played 376 matches and scored 51 goals with Juve (respectively 259 and 35 in Serie A), a very respectable total which was capped by often decisive goals.
Much like a certain #8 in Bianconero these days, as many fans and media pundits have remarked about the similarities between Tardelli and new rising Juve and Azzurri talent Claudio Marchisio.
Tardelli recently weighed in on the discussion with his usual concise style:
The Azzurri: ItalJuve On the Road to Glory
According to the RSSSF (Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation), Tardelli was capped 81 times for Italy with six goals and had his first call-up in 1976 against Portugal.
Enzo Bearzot, the Azzurri manager of that time, assembled a young group of players with a definite Juventus DNA: Antonio Cabrini, Claudio Gentile, Paolo Rossi, Gaetano Scirea and Marco Tardelli himself, backstopped by the legendary Dino Zoff in goal. Tardelli was one of the revelations of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. He helped the Azzurri win all three first round games, including a memorable one against the hosts, Argentina, en route to a 4th-place finish.
During an interview with FIFA.com, Tardelli discussed the beginning of his golden Azzurri era:
A superb team. Very complete, well-balanced and full of great players. There was Benetti, Cabrini, Rossi. That was when Rossi burst on the scene. I felt good in that team. We could’ve reached the Final the way we played… Honestly, we didn’t do much wrong. Argentina actually lost a match against us (0-1). There was some weird situation. Three of our players, me, Benetti, and another important player had all been booked, so we wouldn’t have played the Final anyway. But we didn’t reach the Final so I didn’t play in the third place play-off.
During the same interview, Tardelli expressed his feelings for the Old Lady, saying “For me the most emotional time as a player was – apart from the 1982 World Cup – when I began playing for Juventus in Serie A“.
That Famous 1982 Night in Madrid…
Tardelli and the Azzurri added the third star to their shirts with an unanticipated World Cup triumph in 1982. The Italians limped through the group round phase and only survived due to goal difference with Cameroon. But the Azzurri hit their stride in the next round with two wins over Argentina and Brazil, respectively. Tardelli scored against the Argentineans, but he saved his most memorable Azzurri goal for the final against West Germany. It is a goal, along with his subsequent celebration, that has etched Tardelli’s name into world football lore.
A few years ago, Tardelli returned to the scene of his greatest sporting triumph: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. He described what went through his mind after scoring the second Italian goal past Harold Schumacher of West Germany. A goal, almost 30 years later, that still defines Tardelli’s iconic legacy in world football:
He (Gaetano Scirea) passed me the ball, I stopped it, slipped and then shot. It was happiness… commotion… a volcano that exploded. In that moment, you think of the things you have done in your life. Your family, your brothers in Italy. It’s a little like when they say you’re going to die and you see your whole life. I returned to see where I began to play football as a child. And at that time, I arrived at a summit that any child would have wanted to reach. It’s a beautiful memory. I hope that it stays with my children.
Euro 2012: The Juventus Connection
With the exception of winning the UEFA U-21 championship with the Azzurrini, as a manager Tardelli has not enjoyed the same type of success that was a hallmark of his playing career. He began his dugout career with Como and Cesena in Serie C and B respectively, before his first Serie A bench at Internazionale that only lasted one season. He then had short spells with Bari, the Egyptian National team, and Arezzo.
In 2006, following the Calciopoli scandal that rocked the core of Juventus and the state of Italian Serie A, Tardelli was invited to be part of the Old Lady’s administrative council. It was one of the many “new leaves” the club wanted to turn, to cancel the past and look towards a brighter future. Things did not pan out as Tardelli wanted however, the manager viewing his role marginalized and not seeing eye-to-eye with the club’s hierarchy regarding the direction Juventus was heading towards. He resigned a year later.
In 2008 his former Juventus manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, asked Tardelli to join his back room staff with the Republic of Ireland, and both men were reunited with another Juventino, Liam Brady, who played for Trapattoni and was a teammate of Tardelli back in Turin. Ironically next Summer, all three will face the Azzurri of Cesare Prandelli, who played for six years at Juventus under Trapattoni and was a teammate of both Tardelli and Brady as well [EDITOR'S NOTE: Lost yet? Take notes folks, there'll be a quiz on this later!]
Brady, Trapattoni and Tardelli guided Ireland to their first finals competition in ten years and along with Italy, will face Croatia and Spain in the group round phase of UEFA Euro 2012. The former Juventus trio have yet to lose a match agains the Azzurri: their record boasts two draws in World Cup 2010 qualification (1-1 both times) and a friendly win, 2-0, last June in Belgium.
In a recent interview to Tuttosport, the Trapattoni and Tardelli discussed Ireland’s chances in Europe’s upcoming Summer tournament:
It can be a psychological advantage for us, but also a risk if we think that it’s too easy. Our match against Italy will be the last group stage game, so physical condition and objectives will have to be evaluated. With British teams it’s easier, because you know what to epect. Not so with Spain and Italy (…) We have to be optimistic, otherwise we might as well stay at home.
What the Future Holds…
Recently, Tardelli and Trapattoni were given contract extensions by the FAI (Irish Football Association) to continue their work for the next World Cup qualification cycle. Tardelli gave a hint about his management future:
I don’t know what the future holds but I do know I like to coach. Perhaps I’ll do it here in Ireland, perhaps in Kuwait. Coaching is my life. Qualifying with the Boys in Green for the 2014 World Cup would be the second greatest satisfaction of my career, after the victory of 1982.
Indeed, Tardelli should be remembered for much more than a passionate scream in Madrid on a magical July night of the Spanish Summer…
Steve Amoia is a freelance writer, book reviewer, and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator. He has written and translated for AC Cugini Scuola Calcio (Italian soccer school), Beyond The Pitch, Football Media, Italian Soccer Serie A, Keeper Skool and Soccerlens. You can follow Steve on Twitter (@worldfootballcm).
Scans of PANINI trading cards courtesy of Old School Panini.