Tarcisio Burgnich

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Bio coming soon.
 

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Tarcisio Burgnich, La Roccia


"For me he was one of the toughest defender of all time. His physique, as well as his tenacious style of play made him a real rock" (Armando Picchi about Tarcisio Burgnich)
 

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La Roccia passed away today. R.I.P. Legend. You will always be remembered by the Interisti family.
 

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4 days from today will be the 1 year anniversary of Tarcisio Burgnich's passing. Born on April 25, 1929, "La Roccia", which translates to "The Rock" (as he was nicknamed by club teammate Armando Picchi), was a stalwart of Herrera's "Grande Inter" and a symbol of elite Italian defending in his time. Burgnich spent 12 years with Inter, winning 9 trophies (5 Serie A titles, 2 European Cups, and 2 Intercontinental Cups) and making 470 total appearances (the 8th highest in club history) for the Nerazzurri.

Burgnich was born in Udine and graduated from the Udinese youth ranks alongside future Italy teammate Dino Zoff, making his club debut on 2 June 1959 in a 7-0 defeat to AC Milan. The following season he played 7 games out of a possible 34 for an Udinese side fighting for relegation, but caught the eye of reigning league champions Juventus, who signed him upon the recommendation of Giampiero Boniperti.

He arrived at the Bianconeri in 1960 and won the 1960-61 Serie A title in his only season at the club. The title win itself would be marred by controversy. Early on in the season, Inter under newly appointed manager Helenio Herrera topped the league table while Juventus, led by star forward Omar Sivori and new manager Gunnar Gren, fell as low as sixth in the league. In the first encounter between Juventus and Inter at the San Siro, Inter would win 3-1. A string of losses from Inter and a string of wins from Juventus in the second half of the season made their second encounter in April decisive for the Scudetto. Unexpectedly, the match was cancelled in the 30th minute due to Juventus's supporters flooding the pitch after Inter hit the post. As a result, Inter were awarded an automatic 2-0 victory. Ahead of the final matchday, Inter led the league with a 1 point advantage on Juventus. While Inter were in the club hotel preparing to play their final game of the season against Catania, the FIGC, then chaired by Juventus President Umberto Agnelli, announced that the match against Juventus would be replayed (and Inter's win revoked). Inter would go on to lose to Catania and Juventus would draw their respective match against Fiorentina. Thus the title would come down to the replay, where Herrera decided on playing the youth team in protest and Juventus would win 9-1. Burgnich's role at Juventus that season was limited to a squad player, with 13 appearances; and a feeling of unfulfilled potential as well as incompatibility with Juventus's attacking style of play led to being transfer-listed and sold to Palermo. At Palermo he played his first season of regular football before making the move to Herrera's Inter in 1962.

Under Herrera's catenaccio tactics, Burgnich would thrive. Despite his unspectacular height at 5 ft 9 in, Burgnich's no-nonsense aggressive style of play, physicality, one-on-one defending, and ability to read the game made him a top defender. In addition, he was a leader, adept at organizing a defense, and a master of the offside-trap. He was deployed as a designated marker, known as a stopper, whose responsibility would be to man-mark the most dangerous attacker of the opponent. He played on the right side of a defensive trio alongside Armando Picchi in the libero position and Giacinto Facchetti on the left. The fullback pairing of the more defensive Burgnich on the right and the offensive Facchetti on the left would be unmatched at the time. In addition, the signing of Jair would give Inter attacking balance on the right wing to compensate for Burgnich's defensive nature. The "Grande Inter" side would combine defensive solidity with the attacking finesse and speed of Sandro Mazzola, Mario Corso, Luisito Suárez, and Jair, culminating in an era of domestic and continental success. Herrera's tactics and advanced training methods would catapult the club to the pinnacle of club football.

Burgnich was taken aback with how well Herrera prepared the team with the level of tactical sophistication beyond anything he had been exposed to. At Juventus, players were made to perform laps, then passing drills and finally some tactical preparation for the opposition at hand, whereas at Inter every training session was with a ball. The individual technique, the passes, the tactical system, everything was being worked at the same time - put simply Il Mago was applying Mourinho's methods in the sixties.

The level of professionalism was also ahead of its time. Whilst at previous clubs, players would train Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday before meeting for a pre-match meal on Sunday before the game - with Herrera, the training sessions were planned every day, food was scheduled, and above all he invented what became known as the ritiro - no-nonsense training camps where players were locked up in hotels for days and swapped family and friends for running and tactical drilling.

(from "Tarcisio Burgnich - Italy's Rock")


bURGNICH-SLIDR-3-HERERRA.jpg



Inter would go on to win three league titles under Herrera, capturing their first Golden Star (tenth league title) in 1966, two Intercontinental Cups, and two European Cups, one against the fabled Real Madrid side of Puskás and Di Stefano in 1964 (where Burgnich marked Real's primary attacking outlet, Gento, out of the game), and the other against Eusébio's Benfica in 1965 (on a severely waterlogged pitch, which no doubt favoured Herrera's side, which followed a controversial victory against Liverpool in the semi-finals).

Cracks would soon appear as Herrera's intense managerial style began to take its toll on the squad. Burgnich would complain that Herrera's regime was beginning to have a negative impact on the players. Italy's dissapointment in the 1966 World Cup would result in a ban on signing foreign players, which prevented Angelo Moratti from refreshing the side with moves for Pelé, Beckenbauer, and Eusébio. Inter would lose the 1966-67 title on the last matchday, and reach the 1967 European final which they would lose to the legendary "Lisbon Lions" Celtic side. In the final, Burgnich was tasked with marking Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic's star man, but with Johnstone instructed to roam the pitch and drag Burgnich with him, Inter's defense would be exposed. The season that followed, Inter finished fifth, signalling the end of the heights of the "Grande Inter" phase, with key players Picchi, Guarneri, and Jair leaving the club. But the club's struggles in the late 60s didn't mirror Burgnich's own performances, who, along with Mazzola and Facchetti, was still in his prime.

Going into the 1970-71 season, Burgnich would take on the libero role of his old teammate Picchi and Inter would bounce back from eighth place to win the title over city rivals Milan. A final chance at European glory appeared in 1972 when Inter reached the European Cup final against Cruyff's Ajax, but Ajax would win the match in dominating fashion and put an end to the era of catenaccio. Two seasons later, Burgnich would be sold to Napoli, where he would play for 3 seasons, winning a Coppa Italia, an Anglo-Italian Cup, narrowly missing out on a Serie A title in 1975, and playing the semi-final of the Cup Winners Cup. He would retire in 1977 at the age of 38 following a dispute with his manager at Napoli, Luís Vinício, over zonal marking.

In addition to his club success, Burgnich was capped 66 times for the Italy national team, making his debut in 1963 and playing his last game for the Azzurri in 1974, winning the 1968 European Championships and featuring in the 1966, 1970, and 1974 World Cups. In the 1970 World Cup, Burgnich scored a goal in the "Game of the Century" semi-final against West Germany which qualified Italy for the final, but Italy would be undone against arguably the greatest international team of all time in Pelé's Brazil, with Burgnich famously remarking after the game, "I thought Pelé was made of flesh and blood, like me. I was wrong."

Following his playing career, Burgnich had a twenty year managerial career and briefly returned to Inter as a scout.

He was a good man, friendly and kind. He always gave everything on the pitch and protected his teammates: an exemplary professional, a serious player who did his job.

Burgnich was the most reserved of all the Inter players: all his teammates used to go and find my Dad, and he was very generous with them. But Tarcisio no, he never went into his office because he was embarrassed about coming across as someone who wanted to meet the president just for a nice chat.

He never changed in the years that followed either; a delightful person, never invasive, educated, with a clergyman brother. Burgnich was transparent, not an extrovert but someone who had a friendly attitude towards everyone.

We were fond of each other. I always have huge appreciation for those who were older than me and were affectionate with me. Tarcisio was one of those people.

Massimo Moratti on Burgnich after his passing



Place of Birth: Udine
Nationality: Italian
Date of Birth: 25 April 1929
Date of Death: 26 May 2021 (aged 82)

Position: fullback, sweeper
Caps/Goals for Inter: 470/6
Total Caps/Goals at club level: 647/9
All Clubs: Udinese, Juventus, Palermo, Internazionale, Napoli
Honours:

Juventus
  • Serie A: 1960-61
Inter
  • Serie A: 1962-63, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1970-71
  • European Cup: 1964, 1965
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1964, 1965
Napoli
  • Anglo-Italian Cup: 1976
  • Coppa Italia: 1975-76
Italy
  • UEFA European Championships: 1968
  • FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1970



Sources:

- "Tarcisio Burgnich - Italy's Rock" (I recommend this article for information about the run of "La Grande Inter"), https://pythagorasinboots.com/tarcisio-burgnich-italys-rock/

- "Ex-Inter President Massimo Moratti: Tarcisio Burgnich was Magnificent, Kind, Educated & A True Professional", https://sempreinter.com/2021/05/29/...agnificent-kind-educated-a-true-professional/

- "Tarcisio Burgnich - Wikipedia", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarcisio_Burgnich

- "Farewell to Tarcisio Burgnich, the Timeless Rock of the Grande Inter", https://cultofcalcio.com/farewell-to-tarcisio-burgnich-the-timeless-rock-of-the-grande-inter/

- "Inter-Juventus: The vendetta from 1961", https://www.marca.com/en/football/international-football/2018/04/28/5ae45ca1ca474192638b45c1.html

- "The time Juventus controversially thrashed Inter 9-1", https://www.calciomercato.com/en/news/the-time-juventus-controversially-thrashed-inter-9-1-83703
 
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