An Italian soccer experience in Lanka

By Naushad Amit

Just over 20 years ago, on May 10, 1981 to be exact, one of the most controversial incidents in Italian football took place. The incident revolved around a goal by the living legend of Italian football, Maurizio Turone who scored for AS Roma against Juvetus FC in the last stages of Serie A. The goal was crucial for AS Roma who fought for the league championship in a tight race against close contenders, Juventus FC and Napoli. Juventus topped the Serie A by one point against second-placed Roma and a win was crucial for the latter to run for the title.

Maurizio Turone, Morris Pagniello and Alessandro Turone in Colombo. (Pic by Ranjith Perera)

However the header by Turone was disallowed after the linesman caught him offside. The match ended 0-0 which favoured Juventus who went on to clinch the Serie A title that year but television replays showed that Turone was clearly onside. The disallowed goal which rose to fame as Turine’s goal managed to create a huge anti-Juventus circle and saw more fans flocking around Roma. The video of the controversial goal today is a famous ‘recaller of events’ among fans of Roma and Juventus when they take on each other.

Two decades later, with two former Italian footballers Turone visited Sri Lanka for the first time to conduct a coaching camp for over 240 youngsters and 30 coaches in Colombo. Turone, the head coach of AS Roma, Asia and Oceana regions is assisted by former professional footballers later turned coaches Alessandro Turone and Morris Pagniello.

“It’s very surprising to know that Sri Lanka has a very good base for football. I knew the country because of its glorious achievements in cricket. This is the first experience of seeing the level of football here. Since it’s a very busy schedule I hope we could spare some time with the Sri Lanka national team as well,” Turone told the Sunday Times on Friday.

Turone, who had a successful professional career which spanned 15 years, was also a key figure in the Italian Serie A representing AS Roma, AC Milan, Genoa and Catanzaro. He later took up coaching and is in association with YKK, who had partnered with AS Roma in conducting football clinics for youngsters under ‘YKK’s Just for kicks’ programme since 2008. The coaching staff along with sponsors YKK has visited Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand before visiting Sri Lanka as their fourth destination within four years.

“The Asians are very fast on the field and they are technical players. But they lack the tactical motion which is a vital point in professional football. In addition the local coaches still lack the professional touch. The European style of coaching can help create a platform beyond the potential base. The local coaches should be coached first so that they will relate to the players with updated methods,” Turone added.

According to Pagniello who is a director at Genova International School of Football and in charge of AS Roma in Australia, AS Roma conducts coaching clinics worldwide with a clear vision of imparting the up-to-date techniques of football. He is partly responsible in helping youngsters from Asia reach the top.

“Japan and South Korea have reached the top in the world because they are trained by European coaches. Countries like Sri Lanka too can benefit a lot through the expertise of an European,” added Turone who also said budding countries from Asia could benefit in a big way if the respective governing bodies could implement a programme to coach the local coaches.

While in Sri Lanka the threesome will evaluate the local players on how they perform the technical and tactical drills. In addition they will look into the players’ coordinating skills which according to Pagniello are most vital aspect in football. Moreover during the two-day training programme the strong combination of YKK and AS Roma will be making the event to spot potential local footballers and draft them to the European leagues. Already a player from Thailand and three Singaporeans have been benefited from the programme and a lucky Sri Lankan lad could be the next in line.

“This programme is a social event to give an eye-opener for the local federations and players of what we can do. Their interest will rely on the continuation of the programme in the future. Out of the previous three countries only Indonesia kept constant contact with us and we visited them to conduct more training programmes. Today they have improved a lot in football and Sri Lanka too has that potential to grow internationally,” Pagniello pointed out.

The YKK Just for kicks commenced yesterday at the City Football Complex in Colombo and will end today. Over 240 children between the ages of 12 and 18 and 30 who will travel around the country with the continuation of the programme will receive training under the three Italian professionals.

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