Cosenza ’94-’95, the perfect team. Pagliuso: “The Lucarelli affair was born… in Cuba”. Zac: “Niggas? Hesitant at first.” That game between crabs ACT II


By John

The perfect team, in an imperfect season. The Cosenza branded football Zaccheroni, in the 1994-1995 season, had to coexist with multiple difficulties and setbacks. Here because the feat of salvation goes far beyond having absorbed the 9 point penalty in record time. «I remember that we went to away games, even to the North, by bus. They were very long journeys. If I’m not mistaken, the Region made the vehicle available and the company paid for the fuel», reveals Zaccheroni, now almost fully recovered after the bad accident at home that kept him in the pits for several weeks. «As for the training field: Sanvitino – a structure adjacent to the San Vito pitch – we only saw it for a few days because the work began almost immediately. It wasn’t easy to work in those conditions.”

The Negri-Lucarelli affair

In the second episode of Wise Card, dedicated to the focus on that Cosenza, there is also room for a lot of amarcord. The patron of the time, Paolo Fabiano Pagliusofor example, remember theLucarelli affairheir of Blacks in the following season: «Our main centre-forward, after a championship always at the top of the scorer rankings, he went on holiday to Cuba and found the Perugia managers there, with whom he reached an agreement. The patron of the Umbrian era, Luciano Gaucci, reached an agreement with him but didn’t have the money to buy him from Cosenza. He sent for me, on the sidelines of a League meeting, and I went to talk to him. He couldn’t make a bad impression because he had already announced Negri and he asked me for help. I proposed to him a short-term loan exchange, with the promise that Gaucci would buy Negri during the current season: I chose three of the best players from Perugia’s academy of the time – in which future champions such as Gattuso, Baiocco and Liverani also played, but they still weren’t ready for the cadetship – namely Pierotti, Gioacchini and above all Cristiano Lucarelli. After the first few months, the latter convinced everyone with his goals. And so I kept the three boys and Perugia kept Negri.”

Zac also made a clear impression «I remember that Marco Negri, fresh from a season with me in Serie C with the Bologna shirt, was initially hesitant. But I knew him, because in Emilia he had followed the same path last season. Then he himself convinced himself that he would make it big in Cosenza. We, for our part, have probably struck the right chords. We always started 1-0…”.

The big heart of Aldo Monza highlighted by Franco Rosito

Memories slowly come back to the surface. Even in the minds of those who have seen a lot of water flowing under the rossoblù bridges. The editor of Southern Gazette, Franco Rosito, remembers how the relationships between the Cosenza players and the Cosenza press were professional but sometimes also very close. «With the intercession of my colleague Walter Leonethe soccer player Aldo Monza I lent us his off-road vehicle allowing us to go to Lecce, away: being registered in Milan it would have protected us from any problem with any troublesome fans from Salento. Unfortunately, however, a Cosenza sticker made our car recognizable and, a few meters after getting out, we realized that the Monza off-road vehicle had been beaten and stoned. Completely destroyed. But like the great gentleman he was, the rossoblù midfielder didn’t make us pay anything.”

The crab game and the escape from the hotel

But a great group is built outside the pitch. And Zac’s Cosenza was a great group. So close-knit that he allows himself some luxuries and doesn’t suffer because of it on the pitch. Between two away matches, for example, due to the absence of the coach who was busy watching a match, some Cosenza players convinced the driver of the team bus to take them around the city. They stayed up late and returned to the hotel with a ruse, implicating the guilty party Zunico (he let them in from his balcony), remained in the room that evening. Zaccheroni, stationed outside the hotel, noticed the “scam”. Who did he blame? Precisely with Zunico, who… responded in kind. On the pitch, in the next match, the team played one of its best games. Just as happens after training in which Zaccheroni returned to the locker room, accusing his boys of lack of commitment. The reason? Aldo Monza and his companions had invented the crab game. Yes, you read it right: the crab game, or rather a competition in which each of the protagonists had to move just like the crustaceans. «We were all with our butts on the ground», recall the protagonists of the stunt. A diversion? No, further fuel to light the sacred fire of competitiveness that burned in each of Zac’s boys. This is why that fabulous group achieved the greatest feat in Cosenza football.

Video editing by Enrico Newton Battaglia

Next and last episode of Carta Saggia – Cosenza ’94-’95, the perfect team – September 9th

Watch the first episode again