Gemellaggio: 10 unbelievable stories of friendship in Italian football
While the Serie A is known for its heated rivalries, there are stories of rival fans coming togetherThink of Italian football, and Catenaccio, long-haired throwbacks, striped jerseys and astonishing golazos come to mind. But what gives the game an X-factor in Europe's most decorated footballing nation is her fandom. With the Ultras baying for blood and flares flying around with gigantic tifos in the background, football, in this part of the world, is much more than life and death, like the great Bill Shankly put it once upon a time. With the Derby Della Madonnina, Derby Della Capitale and other fierce rivalries in the country making football a visual, yet vicious, spectacle, the Ultras are often stereotyped to be mindlessly violent fanatics. But, the ultra is no Charlie Hunnam in Green Street Hooligans – he is a fan with his own ideological, political and indeed footballing notions. And with ideas and principles come brotherhood, friendships and enmity.This article focuses on the former, a phenomenon unique to Italian clubs. We look at the stories behind some of the greatest friendships between Italy's most storied clubs.
#10 Pescara and Vicenza
When the brilliance of Bruno Nobili and Giorgio Ripetto won them their first ever promotion to the Serie A in 1977, Pescara Calcio had finally entered the big bad world of Italian football. The team was already a household name to the followers of the game in Italy, for something that had happened a few months earlier.
When 3,000 traveling Delfini, as the Pescara fans are more popularly known, went to Vicenza Calcio’s Stadio Romeo Menti for a Serie B match, few expected the attention to divert from a young Paolo Rossi, the lynchpin of the home club and future Azzurri legend. However, neither Rossi nor his teammates could prevent Pescara from winning the crucial match.
In fact, so enthralling was the Pescara display, that the home fans stood up and applauded the winners, a gesture that was magnanimously replicated in the return leg. In an incredible season, the two teams finished at the top and managed to qualify for Serie A, with their friendship lasting ever since. “Nessuno Ci Separa” is the binding motto between the clubs – “Nothing separates us”.
Most importantly, the twinning and ever-lasting friendships of rival fans, known in the local tongue as Gemellaggio, had been born.