Tag Archives: lazio

Paolo Di Canio denies having fascist beliefs

I'm no fascist: Sunderland boss Di Canio bows to pressure and denies having right-wing sympathies

PUBLISHED:

15:15 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:59 GMT, 3 April 2013

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has released a statement denouncing racism and fascism and vowed that he 'respects everyone'.

The Italian's political beliefs and background have come under close scrutiny in the days after his appointment as boss at the Stadium of Light on Sunday night.

The former West Ham, Celtic and Lazio striker had declined to answer questions over whether he was a fascist, but has now moved to draw a line under the matter.

Controversial: Do Canio's appointment has caused uproar among fans and those opposed to fascism

Controversial: Do Canio's appointment has caused uproar among fans and those opposed to fascism

Di Canio said in a statement: 'I have
clearly stated that I do not wish to speak about matters other than
football, however, I have been deeply hurt by the attacks on the
football club.

'This is an historic, proud and
ethical club and to read and hear some of the vicious and personal
accusations is painful. I am an honest man, my values and principles
come from my family and my upbringing.

'I feel that I should not have to
continually justify myself to people who do not understand this, however
I will say one thing only – I am not the man that some people like to
portray.

'I am not political, I do not
affiliate myself to any organisation, I am not a racist and I do not
support the ideology of fascism. I respect everyone.

'I am a football man and this and my family are my focus. Now I will speak only of football.'

Earlier today the Dean of Durham
wrote an open letter to Di Canio calling on the Italian to publicly
renounce fascism or risk being associated with 'toxic far-right
tendencies'.

Denounce fascism: The Dean of Durham has called on Di Canio to distance himself from toxic far-right tendencies

Denounce fascism: The Dean of Durham has called on Di Canio to distance himself from toxic far-right tendencies

Plea: The Dean of Durham has called on Di Canio to distance himself from toxic far-right tendencies

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove,
the son of a Jewish war refugee and a Sunderland supporter, said he was
struggling to stay loyal to the club and that he found Di Canio's
'self-confessed fascism deeply troubling'.

In his open letter to Di Canio, the Dean of Durham wrote: 'Your appointment raises very difficult questions. You see, I am the child of a Jewish war refugee who got out of Germany and came to Britain just in time. Some of her family and friends perished in the Nazi death camps. So I find your self-confessed fascism deeply troubling.

'Fascism was nearly the undoing of the world. It cost millions of innocent lives. Mussolini, who you say has been deeply misunderstood, openly colluded with it. You are said to wear a tattoo DUX which speaks for itself. This all adds up to what I find baffling.

'You say that you are not a racist, but it needs great sophistication to understand how fascism and racism are ultimately different. I can promise you that this distinction will be lost on the people of the North East where the British National Party is finding fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of its pernicious and poisonous doctrine.'

Di Canio refused to confirm or deny whether he was a fascist at a news conference yesterday but has previously stated he is 'a fascist but not a racist'.

He has also been pictured giving a fascist salute to Lazio 'ultras' and photographed attending the funeral of a leading Italian fascist.

Di Canio, the former Swindon
manager, has the word 'Dux', the Latin equivalent of 'Duce', tattooed on
his arm – a reference to Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.

Down to work: Di Canio has taken charge of his first training session at Sunderland today

Down to work: Di Canio has taken charge of his first training session at Sunderland today

Down to work: Di Canio took charge of his first training session at Sunderland today

WHAT EXACTLY IS FASCISM

As the last few days have shown, ‘fascism’ is a word that comes with great political baggage but no simple definition.

In general terms, it evokes right-wing and nationalistic values – standing against the liberal ideals of socialism and democracy and promoting instead authoritarian figures who control the state.

Fascism is ingrained in the political make-up of Italy but is muddied by its links to Nazism, and particularly anti-Semitism.

While racism was a central ideology to Nazism, some historians argue Italian fascism is far more ambiguous – it focuses on conflicts of nation and race within any culture rather than defining status by class.

The first ‘fascist’ movement to gain real power was Mussolini’s Blackshirts in Italy in 1922 – before Adolf Hitler took over the term in the build-up to the Second World War.

Where this leaves Di Canio’s politics is anyone’s guess.

He told Italian news agency Ansa in 2005: 'I am a fascist, not a racist.

'I
give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a “camerata”
to “camerati”,' he said, using the Italian words for members of
Mussolini's fascist movement.

'The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don't want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred.'

At a news conference yesterday, Di Canio blasted the furore over his appointment as Sunderland manager as 'ridiculous and pathetic' and warned that he may not speak to media who continue to question him on the subject.

He said: 'My life speaks for me so there is no need to speak any more about this situation because it's ridiculous and pathetic.

'We are in a football club and not in the House of Parliament. I'm not a political person, I will talk about only football.'

His
appointment led to the resignation of the club's vice-chairman David
Miliband, Labour MP for South Shields and former foreign secretary, and
the Durham Miners' Association has asked the club to return a symbolic
banner which is kept at the Stadium of Light if Di Canio remains in his
post.

SO, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS

Di Canio is yet to explain why he was at the funeral of fascist Paolo Signorelli in 2010, where mourners made the right-arm salute as the body was carried out of the church.

The Sunderland boss was a frequent visitor to Signorelli's home in the final years of his life.

Signorelli, who died aged 76, had been a senior member of the Italian Socialist movement which grew out of the collapse of Benito Mussolini's Fascist party after the Second World War.

Paolo Di Canio

He spent eight years in jail on remand after a bomb was set off killing 85 people at Bologna railway station in 1980.

Although he was initially convicted he
was cleared on appeal because of insufficient evidence. But he was
still found guilty of being part of an 'armed band' and a 'subversion
against democracy'.

Di Canio is understood to have been a frequent visitor to the far-right politician's home in the final years of his life.

Terrorist bombing in Bologna Railway station

'I will not talk about Fascist issue anymore' – Di Canio

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Martin Keown"s boot room: Marouane Fellaini headbutt was wrong but sly Ryan Shawcross has no defence

The boot room: It's not defending, it's tag wrestling! Fellaini headbutt was wrong but sly Shawcross has no defence

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 21 December 2012

What Marouane Fellaini did to Ryan Shawcross last weekend was wrong – there is no place for headbutts on a football pitch. Everton manager David Moyes was quick to make that point, too.

Fellaini's reaction was that of frustration, a retaliation to almost an hour of being manhandled by the Stoke centre back at every set-piece. He felt Shawcross was cheating time after time and so the anger built up. It wasn't right but something needs to be done about the style in which Shawcross marks people.

It's not defending, it's tag wrestling. He's not bothered about the ball, just the man.

Mario Fellaini headbutts Ryan Shawcross

Mario Fellaini headbutts Ryan Shawcross

I have been watching Shawcross for long enough to know he's been regularly grabbing attackers, putting both arms around them like a bear hug.

He's not alone in doing this in the Premier League but he's the best at it, disguising his clear fouling from the referee. He collars his opponents, targeting people like Fellaini who are so good in the air. He does it exceptionally well but he oversteps the mark.

As a defender you always need to have some contact with the man you are marking at set-pieces but there are boundaries.

There will always be shirt-pulling in the box – sometimes it's just a natural instinct when a player runs away from you. You use it as a brake to slow down an attacker, it's part of your armoury. I did that but I never put two arms around an opponent like Shawcross does.

I was on the receiving end of a player like that, too. It was a game against Lazio and Alessandro Nesta was wrestling me to the ground at every free-kick and corner. I tried to tell the referee but I got no help from him. He did nothing. So I decided I would stop him by barging into him at every set-piece, running violently into him. I started acting like a crazy guy. He could see the look in my eye which was telling him not to do it again or it would all go off.

So I can understand what Fellaini must have been feeling, even though he was wrong to let it get the better of him. When Shawcross was headbutted by Fellaini it must have been painful. But I have been headbutted and punched and I know it's a choice whether you go down or not. Most of the time it happened to me, I fought back.

But when Nigel Spackman punched me in the back of the head, I chose to go to the floor so the referee would notice it and would send him off. He did. No doubt that was in Shawcross's mind as he hit the deck.

WhatsTheScore

Christian soldiers on

Bang-on Benteke

Christian Benteke has been a revelation for
Aston Villa, with eight goals already this season in all competitions. Can he become the first Villa player to score 20 goals since Juan Pablo Angel in 2003-04

11-12 . Darren Bent 10
10-11. Darren Bent 9/Ashley Young 9
09-10. John Carew 17
08-09. John Carew 15
07-08. John Carew 13
06-07. Gabriel Agbonlahor 10
05-06. Milan Baros 12
04-05. Juan Pablo Angel 9
03-04. Juan Pablo Angel 23

Christian Benteke is an absolute revelation. He has some of Didier Drogba's pace and power but whereas Drogba would fall to the floor with a broken eyelash, Benteke is harder.

He reminds me of former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who was a fearsome opponent. You didn't make him angry because you'd be worried what he'd do to you and the same can be said about Benteke.

The harder you hit him, the harder he hits back. The Belgian is dominating everyone he faces – I haven't seen any defender master him yet. He's caused problems for Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs and Liverpool to name but a few.

He has fantastic feet and technique and they complement his confidence and strength. He will keep getting better, too.

Match Previews 2

Match Previews 1

Manchester City finally given go-ahead to play summer signing Vlad Nicolae Marin

Manchester City finally given the go-ahead to play summer signing Marin

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UPDATED:

22:39 GMT, 6 December 2012

Manchester City have been given clearance to play summer signing Vlad Nicolae Marin after signing him controversially from Lazio for 300,000 compensation.

Lazio accused City of poaching the 17-year-old left winger, who signed a three year deal, but the move has now been ratified by the Premier League and he is able to play for City's elite development squad pending his work permit.

Boost: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini

Lazio to wear anti-racism shirts after Spurs chants and fan attacks

Lazio wear shirts with anti-racism message… days after shameful anti-Semitic chants and attack on Spurs fans in Rome

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UPDATED:

20:48 GMT, 27 November 2012

Lazio players wore anti-racism shirts during their game against Udinese tonight, just days after travelling Tottenham fans were attacked in Rome last week.

Spurs fan Ashley Mills was left fighting for his life last week after he was stabbed on the eve of his team's Europa League game against Lazio in the Italian capital.

The 25-year-old was stabbed in the leg and also suffered a serious head injury after being caught up in a vicious attack on an American pub by up to 50 masked thugs.

Solidarity: Federico Marchetti (left) and Stefano Mauri wear the specially printed shirts before the Udinese match

Solidarity: Federico Marchetti (left) and Stefano Mauri wear the specially printed shirts before the Udinese match

In action: The shirts were printed in the wake of sickening violence in Rome last week which targeted Tottenham fans

In action: The shirts were printed in the wake of sickening violence in Rome last week which targeted Tottenham fans

Lazio insist their fans were not behind the attack and two supporters of the club's rivals Roma have since been charged with attempted murder.

The Biancocelesti tried to distance themselves further from last Thursday's events by today revealing their players will wear shirts with 'NO RACISM' emblazoned across the front in large white letters during tonight's game.

Message: Lazio players will wear these shirts in their match against Udinese this evening

Message: Lazio players will wear these shirts in their match against Udinese this evening

Trashed: Fights broke out in this pub in Rome last week

Trashed: Fights broke out in this pub in Rome last week

Controversy: Lazio fans allegedly taunted Spurs fans during the game

Controversy: Lazio fans allegedly taunted Spurs fans during the game

The Italian club posted a link to the picture of the shirt on their Twitter page along with the following message: 'S.S. Lazio against all forms of racism! This is the jersey that the players will wear against Udinese'.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito visited Mills in hospital yesterday.

Visit: Lazio president Claudio Lotito (centre) went to see Ashley Mills in hospital, who was stabbed in Rome last week

Visit: Lazio president Claudio Lotito (centre) went to see Ashley Mills in hospital, who was stabbed in Rome last week

In the wake of the sickening violence before Tottenham's Europa League clash with Lazio, there were also reports on Sunday that sections of the West Ham support were singing songs which celebrated the incident, as well as referring to Adolf Hitler and World War II gas chambers.

West Ham issued a statement saying that they had issued a season ticket holder at Upton Park with a banning order for his alleged involvement in the sickening chants.

West Ham anti-semitic chants: FA launch probe into sick songs at Tottenham, which mocked Spurs fans stabbed in Italy

West Ham to assist Tottenham and FA in probe into anti-semitic chants at Spurs, which mocked Spurs fans stabbed in Italy

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UPDATED:

12:15 GMT, 26 November 2012

West Ham will assist Tottenham in their investigation into the vile chanting by some sections of the travelling crowd at White Hart Lane yesterday, and could enforce life bans on supporters found guilty of participating in the sickening anti-semitic songs.

Spurs’ 3-1 Barclays Premier League win was overshadowed by sickening songs about the stabbings of the Tottenham fans in Rome last week.

Sportsmail
has learnt that FA officials are waiting to digest the referee's report
before launching a full probe – although off-the-field incidents
typically take longer to investigate
than those on the pitch.

Let down: West Ham fans hit a new low with their chants at White Hart Lane

Let down: West Ham fans hit a new low with their chants at White Hart Lane

Tweet from Sportsmail's Alex Kay

Lazio' chants have gone on for most of
first half. Not just a few people, hundreds. It's sad and pathetic. Ban
them all.' @Alex_Kay_DM

Anti-Semitic taunts were also heard, along with persistent hissing and references to Adolf Hitler.

A statement issued by West Ham this morning said: 'West Ham United are in contact with Tottenham Hotspur to assist them with their investigation into the conduct of a small number of supporters and alleged inappropriate chanting during yesterday's match at White Hart Lane.

'West Ham United will take the strongest possible action against any of their supporters, including enforcing life bans from the club, that are found guilty of behaviour which is categorically not condoned by West Ham United.

'During the 46 games in the Championship last season, West Ham United had zero arrests for racism or violence, so while we are surprised to see such reports today, we will examine any available evidence of such conduct thoroughly and take the appropriate action.'

Hundreds of West Ham supporters chanted ‘Viva Lazio’ at numerous points during the game in a macabre show of support for the hooligans who left at least 10 Spurs fans injured and one needing emergency surgery.

Ashley Mills, 25, of Essex, had to be admitted to hospital for stab wounds to his head and groin after being set upon by a gang of masked thugs while in Rome for Tottenham’s Europa League match against Lazio. Two men have since been charged with attempted murder.

Italian flags were seen in the away section on Sunday and a red flare was also set off. After Tottenham had scored their second and third goals, ‘Lazio’ was chanted, bringing ironic cheers from the home crowd.

The most distasteful chants were saved for towards the end. In reply to Spurs fans chanting, ‘Can we play you every week’ West Ham fans sang: ‘Can we stab you every week’

Anti-semitic chanting, hissing and the references to Hitler then followed.

The FA said they would await reports from referee Andre Marriner and fourth official Mark Clattenburg before taking further action.

At the double: Jermain Defoe scored twice as Tottenham cruised to victory over West Ham

At the double: Jermain Defoe scored twice as Tottenham cruised to victory over West Ham

Chance: Tottenham's Gareth Bale tries to score past West Ham's Mohamed Diame (left) at White Hart Lane yesterday

Chance: Tottenham's Gareth Bale tries to score past West Ham's Mohamed Diame (left) at White Hart Lane yesterday

WEST HAM'S OFFICIAL STATEMENT IN FULL

West Ham United are in contact with Tottenham Hotspur to assist them with their investigation into the conduct of a small number of supporters and alleged inappropriate chanting during yesterday's match at White Hart Lane.

West Ham United will take the strongest possible action against any of their supporters, including enforcing life bans from the club, that are found guilty of behaviour which is categorically not condoned by West Ham United.

During the 46 games in the Championship last season, West Ham United had zero arrests for racism or violence, so while we are surprised to see such reports today, we will examine any available evidence of such conduct thoroughly and take the appropriate action.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said he had not heard the chanting but agreed his fans ‘should not be doing that’. Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas branded the chants as ‘stupid’.

Allardyce said: ‘I don’t hear what the fans say or do when I’m concentrating on a game of football.

‘They shouldn’t be doing things like that, should they But it’s the least of my worries at the minute.’

Asked about the Hitler chanting, Allardyce said: ‘If I didn’t hear it, I can’t condemn it. I’ll wait and look at it myself and then I’ll comment after I’ve listened to what they’ve said. I don’t want to be a political animal. I’m in here to talk about football, not what fans are saying or singing.’

Villas-Boas said: ‘We know the animosity
there is between Tottenham and West Ham. As long as it doesn’t reach
stupidity, it is a great rivalry.

Aftermath: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome were Spurs fans were attacked this week

Aftermath: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome were Spurs fans were attacked this week

‘I understand the whole situation is unavoidable although we can’t decipher the complete meaning of what they were singing.’

The two clubs have a long-standing history of abuse between supporters. Former West Ham striker Jermain Defoe, who was booed throughout, scored two of the goals in the win for Tottenham, a victory that takes them one place above the Hammers.

Spurs fans have been the subject of complaints by the Society of Black Lawyers who objected to the White Hart Lane supporters singing ‘Yid Army’ about themselves. Sportsmail has highlighted that this kind of disgraceful chanting is just as despicable as racist abuse, pointing out unacceptable behaviour such as vile abuse Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is subjected to at various grounds.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones, who has been the victim of sustained abuse, said: ‘It is like a form of racism because it is every bit as bad.’

Spurs supporters rushed to condemn their West Ham rivals on Twitter.

Three and easy: Tottenham climbed above the Hammers with this win on Sunday

Three and easy: Tottenham climbed above the Hammers with this win on Sunday

Andrew Leason wrote: 'West Ham fans & their Lazio/Hitler chants showing what utter vile scum they are.'

West Ham fan Andrew Wiseman posted: 'The minority of hammers fans with the Lazio chants should hang their heads in shame. And I'm a Hammer. Pathetic.'

Ed Aarons commented: 'Not surprised at all by reports of moronic Lazio chants by West Ham fans at WHL. Not exactly known for their intelligence.'

West Ham fans were also accused of hissing in reference to the Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis in concentration camps.

'Hissing, Lazio chants and (letting off) a flare. You classless bunch of p***** are really enjoying your cup final, aren't you West Ham,' posted Louise Page.

And Charlie Parrish added: 'Next to West Ham away fans. Lots of Lazio chants. Football's pretty grim sometimes.'

Lazio"s anti-semitic fans must be punished by UEFA says Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas

UEFA have to act quickly against Lazio if fans found guilty of anti-Semitic chants, says Villas-Boas

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 22 November 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has urged UEFA to take action against Lazio if their fans are found guilty of chanting anti-Semitic songs at Tottenham during tonight's Europa League draw at the Stadio Olimpico.

The home supporters chanted 'Juden Tottenham' during the first half of the goalless draw, which came the day after fans of the London club were attacked in a vicious scuffle in a city centre pub.

Spelling it out: Lazio fans display a banner and Palestine flags at the Stadio Olympico

Spelling it out: Lazio fans display a banner and Palestine flags at the Stadio Olympico

UEFA fined Lazio 32,500 for their fans monkey chanting at three Spurs players during the reverse fixture in September, and Villas-Boas hopes the organisation move swiftly to establish the facts.

'It will take another investigation,' the Tottenham manager told a press conference.

Furious: Andre Villas-Boas greets Lazio counterpart Vladimir Petkovic after the match - but the Portuguese was livid with the home fans

Furious: Andre Villas-Boas (left) greets Lazio counterpart Vladimir Petkovic after the match – but the Portuguese was livid with the home fans

'It happened last time and it was acted upon quickly by UEFA. We will have to wait and see if there is anything to act upon. If there is UEFA have to act.'

UEFA are expected to decide whether to launch an investigation tomorrow when they receive the match delegate's report.

Overshadowed: Ultras ran amok in Rome's Drunken Ship pub on Wednesday night, injuring several Spurs fans

Overshadowed: Ultras ran amok in Rome's Drunken Ship pub on Wednesday night, injuring several Spurs fans

The game had already been overshadowed before kick-off by the shocking and brutal attack on a group of the club's supporters early this morning.

Around 20 men burst in to the Drunken Sailor pub in Campo dei Fiori at around 1am and beat the fans with sticks and glass bottles. One fan is recovering in hospital after being stabbed in the head and leg.

No way through: Lazio and Spurs conjured a goalless draw

No way through: Lazio and Spurs conjured a goalless draw

Villas-Boas expressed his disappointment at the attack, saying: 'It is an extremely difficult moment for them.

'We have to be aware there is a police investigation and I'm not in control of all facts. But there is massive disappointment and the fear they've gone through is hard.

'To point a finger at this point would be incorrect but (we) give them a message of support. As a club, we will try to help them overcome this.'

Paul Gascoigne: Gazza given hero"s welcome on return to Rome by Lazio fans

A hero's welcome: Gazza's back at Lazio to watch Spurs… and they STILL love him (despite his boozing, belching and that dodgy knee)

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UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 22 November 2012

The main event

Arguably Gascoigne's return was more interesting than the match itself, which finished in a goalless draw

Read the Tottenham v Lazio report here

Paul Gascoigne was given a hero's welcome in Rome's Olympic Stadium as the former Tottenham and Lazio midfielder was guest of honour for the two sides' Europa League clash.

'Lionhearted, headstrong, pure talent, real man. Still our hero,' was one message held aloft on a banner by the Lazio supporters who have not forgotten the impact 'Gazza' made when he moved to Italy's capital 20 years ago.

Other fans carried a huge British flag with a picture of Gascoigne, in a Lazio kit emblazoned with his autograph, on the front.

Glad you're back: Paul Gascoigne was given a hero's welcome

Good to see you again: Gascoigne waves to Lazio supporters

Welcome back Gazza: Former Tottenham and Lazio midfielder Paul Gascoigne was shown around the Olympic Stadium upon his return to Rome

Thanks for the memories: Lazio fans with an amazing banner to salute Gascoigne upon his return

Thanks for the memories: Lazio fans with an amazing banner to salute Gascoigne upon his return

Lazio president Claudio Lotito paraded the English cult hero around the pitch to the delight of the fans.

Lotito said: 'Paul represents an important part of the history of our club and it was an obligation on our part to invite him to the stadium.

'The affection of Lazio people for him has never ceased. He is one of the all-time favourites and still in the hearts of many fans because of his determination, character and the great games he played.'

His move to Lazio was delayed by a year because of injury but when he did eventually move in 1992 his verve, flair and mischievousness – both on and off the field – delighted the fans.

Gascoigne played for the club for three
years, eventually leaving for Rangers in 1995. His time in Italy was
sadly hampered by injury, sustaining a broken cheekbone and later a
broken leg.

Smacker: Gazza plants a kiss on the head of Lazio president Claudio Lotito in his typical fashion

Smacker: Gazza plants a kiss on the head of Lazio president Claudio Lotito in his typical fashion

All out: Lazio fans went to great lengths to make their old legend feel at home again

All out: Lazio fans went to great lengths to make their old legend feel at home again

But Gascoigne endeared himself to the supporters from the start, when his first goal turned out to be the equaliser right at the end of the Rome derby.

The club's general manager, Maurizio Manzini, was at the club in the same role when Gazza signed. 'Paul Gascoigne is a mythical figure for Lazio fans and very popular in general in Italy,' he said.

'I remember the Atalanta ultras, who had a reputation for being really tough, opened an enormous banner with a picture of a huge bottle of beer, saying “This is for you, Gazza”.'

When he was dropped for a match
against Juventus in January 1993 he was asked what he thought of it by
Italian state broadcaster RAI.

Gascoigne's answer came in the form of a deep
burp, which shocked the (polite parts of the) country, even seeing the
minister for tourism being asked to conduct a parliamentary enquiry into
the incident.

He was fined 9,000 for the belch, which his advisor Mel Stein insisted would have made 'everyone in England' laugh.

Admired: Gascoigne was not just liked by Lazio fans but also across Italy for his personality and humour

Admired: Gascoigne was not just liked by Lazio fans but also across Italy for his personality and humour

Treat: Gazza was the guest of honour

Warm welcome: Gazza enjoyed himself in the Italian capital

A real treat: Seeing the midfielder who entertained a generation of fans – and not just Lazio's – back in Italy was a delight for those in the ground

Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic said: 'He is a player who goes down in the history books for Lazio and everybody will be pleased to see him at the stadium.

'It will give the fans an added incentive to come and see the game.'

Gascoigne declined an invite to September's reverse fixture at White Hart Lane due to 'personal reasons'.

The former Newcastle and Rangers star has struggled to deal with alcohol problems since retirement but his agent Terry Baker says Gascoigne is in good shape thanks to a rigorous exercise routine that sees him spend two hours per day in the gym.

If he had been able to go he would have seen the Biancocelesti fans start chanting his name, then the Tottenham fans joining in, with the whole stadium eventually involved.

Memento: Gazza nearly declined the chance to go to the game on Thursday night but changed his mind late on

Memento: Gazza nearly declined the chance to go to the game on Thursday night but changed his mind late on

Although he was initially planning to turn down the invitation to the Olympic Stadium because of a speaking engagement in Southampton on Friday he changed his mind.

Baker said: 'Paul will now go to the Lazio game. He is looking forward to seeing the fans because he has a great affection for them.'

Top show: Gazza delights in the fanfare at his return to Lazio

Top show: Gazza delights in the fanfare at his return to Lazio

When in Rome: Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

When in Rome: Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

Video: 'GAZZA WELCOME BACK' – Lazio posted this video as a tribute on the day of Gascoigne's return

VIDEO: Gazza stuns Italy with a cheeky burp

Paul Gascoigne and Golaco! Our 90s love affair with Italian football

Gazza and Golaco! Our unforgettable 90s love affair with Italian football

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UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 22 November 2012

Golao! It’s Portuguese for 'fantastic goal', but for football fans growing up in the 1990s it had a different meaning.

It meant the start of Channel Four’s unmissable Football Italia programme on a Saturday morning.

My kids thought it was actually 'Go Lazio'. That didn’t matter. What did matter was waiting for the bouncy ball around the Italian themed Channel Four logo, listening to the theme music – it was 'I’m Stronger Now' by Definitive Two – and waiting for the evocative shout that meant the programme was about to begin.

Scroll to the bottom for video of the opening credits and a stroll through memory piazza

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

At the helm: James Richardson

At the helm: James Richardson

Maybe we started falling for all things Italian after somebody at the BBC brilliantly chose Nessun Dorma as the theme music for the 1990 World Cup.

But if anything extended the romance from four all too short summer weeks into a 16-year love affair, it was James Richardson’s brilliant presentation of the country’s domestic football each weekend.

And Gazza. Of course. You couldn’t forget Gazza.

On Thursday night he’s heading back to Rome as guest of honour to watch Lazio play Tottenham in the Europa League, and what better reminder that the 'daft as a brush' genius, whose tears in Turin helped lift English football from its lowest point, was also responsible for a revolution in the way TV presents the game.

Gascoigne had co-operated on a
documentary with production company Chrysalis charting his fightback
from injury to enable his move to Lazio to go ahead, and when it was
finished said to the producer Neil Duncanson it was a shame nobody would
be able to see his games now he was fit.

So
Neil asked the Italian Federation for the rights to cover Lazio’s
matches, was told he could have the whole of Serie A instead, and so the
show was born.

And what a show. The first coup was for Richardson as the affable, easy going presenter to put Gazza at ease and suddenly England’s most iconic footballer was a TV man too.

Each Saturday morning we shared his Italian adventure with him, driving round Rome in open top sports cars, wandering behind the scenes of Lazio’s training ground, or sitting outside pretty pavement cafes.

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers - while driving through the streets with the top down

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers – while driving through the streets with the top down

That was part of the secret. It was the first football show that moved you out of a studio and took you from your front room into a different world.

Richardson would sit with his cappuccino and a couple of croissants on the streets of Milan or Genoa, holding up the pink pages of the Gazzetta dello Sport to bring us the headlines, and chatting through the games and the goals to come.

On a cold, wet, winter’s morning it was pure escapism.

At its peak it pulled in nearly a million viewers every week, and while Match of the Day might have never lost its place as the must-see football programme on British TV, Football Italia ran it a mighty close second.

There was always a competition to win a trip to Italy to see a game, but it felt like you were there anyway.

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Italian football then was where the riches were, and where Europe’s best players flocked to perform.

They didn’t encourage characters in English football in those days.

It was the age of 4-4-2 when words like 'workrate' and 'industry' were becoming the buzz phrases for our coaches.

And POMO, the position of maximum opportunity, which basically meant you lumped the ball as far as you could and chased after it.

The Italians played with the ball at their feet. They caressed it. They passed it.

Milan had the money to pull in Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. And they had showmen like Fabrizio Ravenelli who folded his shirt over his head every time he scored a goal.

They had crowds full of passion with gigantic flags who brandished firecrackers. Even the refs had character, with the boggle-eyed Pierluigi Collina bringing out red cards with a flourish of his right arm.

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

It ran from 1992 to 2002 on Channel Four, then limped through a few more seasons on Eurosport and Bravo before the plug was pulled on the last programme in 2008.

Maybe by then the Premier League’s money and glamour had seduced us away from the romance of Italy, or maybe we all just grew up and moved on.

But Football Italia will always have a special place in our memories.

And how fitting it will be if Gazza and the rest of the crowd in Rome tonight get to shout for one more time: Golao!

What an intro – Football Italia had a proper tune at the start

Andre Villas-Boas hails Iago Falque after Europa League draw

AVB untroubled by Spurs' Maribor draw as he hails impact of young star Falque

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UPDATED:

21:38 GMT, 25 October 2012

Andre Villas-Boas believes Tottenham's Europa League campaign remains on track despite the disappointing draw with Maribor in Slovenia.

The Vijolicasti came into the match with a record of just two wins their previous 15 European games on home soil, but broke the deadlock three minutes from the end of the first half courtesy of Robert Beric.

Gylfi Sigurdsson lashed home in the 58th minute to ensure the north Londoners would not leave the Stadion Ljudski vrt empty-handed, but the goal could not hide what was a disappointing display by Spurs.

Points to prove: Andre Villas-Boas insists he has much to play for in Europe

Points to prove: Andre Villas-Boas insists he has much to play for in Europe

Asked if he was happier with the result than the performance, Spurs boss Villas-Boas said: 'Certainly on the running of the first half. The second half was extremely good, the first half was not so good.

'We came back into the game, which is pleasant to see again and it is good for us to bounce back.

'It is obviously not the full result we wanted bearing in mind the draw between Lazio and Panathinaikos, but certainly we will take a point.

'The group is completely open. What we face now is two games at home and I think we are in a good position in the group.

'We are in third position. We have three games to play, there are nine points to play for. You see the group – it is very tight. It is not a group where the leader has run off with points.'

Saving the day: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Saving the day: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Villas-Boas, whose side are just two points behind Group J leaders Lazio, will be hoping for an improved performance when they return to Premier League action on Sunday.

Struggling new boys Southampton are the opponents and the Portuguese will be hoping to iron out some of the negative aspects his side displayed tonight and in last weekend 4-2 home defeat to Chelsea.

'The first half was poor in terms of possession,' Villas-Boas said. 'It is what we spoke about at the end of the Chelsea game. I think we committed the same mistakes.

'We kept on giving the ball away instead of being a little bit more calm and keeping the ball. The opponent was closing down the spaces well and we can't rush everything.

'We need to be a bit more patient in possession to find the right space to break through and I think we did it much better in the second half than the first half.'

A rare highlight for Spurs this evening was the performance of substitute Iago Falque, whose introduction at half-time had the desired effect.

Just 13 minutes after coming on, the Spaniard made a telling impact by providing the cross that allowed Sigurdsson to score during a penalty-box melee.

'He had an extremely good game,' Villas-Boas said of Falque. 'He had his first game against Carlisle.

'This is his second game against stronger opposition this season. He did extremely well.

'His performance made the link-up player better for us. He is a certainly someone we can count on.'

Andre Villas-Boas"s revolution continues with Spurs technical director

AVB's revolution continues with Spurs technical director

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UPDATED:

20:29 GMT, 22 September 2012

Andre Villas-Boas is stepping up his
Tottenham revolution with the imminent arrival of a Continental-style
technical director as the old Harry Redknapp regime is dismantled.

Spurs recently moved into a new
45million training ground and Villas-Boas, having already changed
playing staff, is on the verge of adding a senior figure to his backroom
team.

All change: Andre Villas-Boas

All change: Andre Villas-Boas

Villas-Boas worked with a technical director at Academica and Porto and is keen to apply the same strategy at Spurs where the whole modus operandi has changed in weeks. He said: 'The structures that surround the club are dependent on the chairman but I'd certainly promote. There are ongoing discussions.'

After getting their season up and running at Reading, Spurs played well in the goalless draw against Lazio in the Europa League and Villas-Boas is hoping for a win against QPR.

'The Reading game gave us a great boost in confidence but it's time to do the job in front of our home fans,' he said.

Villas-Boas, sacked by Chelsea six months ago, says not too much should be read into early-season form, adding: 'The top sides have all dropped points.

'Most are looking for a pattern and style based on the changes they've made. QPR are a bit like us. They've made a lot of outstanding signings but it takes time for everyone to get acquainted. We are trying to evolve from game to game until the players know each better.'

The one constant is that Gareth Bale will maintain the role which suits him. Fans vented their frustration at Bale being played out of position last season but that is now unlikely to happen.

'He feels more comfortable when he's out wide on the left,' said Villas-Boas. 'Certainly we want to get the best out of him because he's an enormous player for us.'

The manager also heaped praise on Moussa Dembele who was sublime against Lazio and seems to have filled the expensive shoes of Luca Modric. 'Moussa is showing his quality,' he said.