The Italian League is one of the competitions that cannot be taken away for granted. Many historic moments have happened, with the poor star players crossing the land of southern Europe. In the era of the 90s, Italian Serie A became excellent. Clubs like Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, AS Roma, to Parma, are the teams that spread most stories.
But among the team, there is one name that deserves to be taken into account. It is Lazio. The club that came from the capital with a hawk escort, supported the light blue in the sky of Italy, even Europe.
Armed with one scudetto title in the 1973/74 season, Lazio returned to plug fangs in the mid-90s. Although it did not go smoothly, Lazio through Sergio Cragnotti continued to look for ways to sharpen the eagle’s beak.
The figure of Sergio Cragnotti is known to be cold and arrogant. According to those who had direct contact with him, Cragnotti found it very difficult to laugh. It is even hard for him to just smiling.
In 1990, Cragnotti began to show dissatisfaction with the financial success he was getting. More than that, he wants to be known. He wants to be worshiped. There, Cragnotti then began to approach several Lazio directors while expressing interest in taking ownership of the club from the hands of Gianmarco Calleri.
When Cragnotti expressed his interest, Lazio was still trapped in turbulence which they had experienced since the 1974 Scudetto. Starting from the departure of Giorgio Chinaglia to the New York Cosmos, a series of disasters had hit Lazio continuously, from the Totonero scandal to the disappearance of Bruno Giordano.
However, Cragnotti did not care about that. He continued to muster all his efforts until finally, in 1992, he succeeded in convincing Calleri to give up the control of Lazio over him. That was the beginning of the golden era of Lazio which is known to have the best squad of its time.
When appointing Zeman with all the harmony he wanted, Cragnotti began to realize that the Czech man was not able to obey his will.
It was not until three seasons survived, Lazio’s performance was getting worse and Zeman was fired. At the end of the 1996/97 season, his position as Lazio’s coach had been temporarily filled by Zoff, before at the beginning of the 1997/98 season, Sven-Goeran Eriksson was appointed as the permanent coach.
In the hands of Erikson, Cragnotti enchanted by his charisma. That was why, when this Swedish man came, Cragnotti was getting brave enough. In the 1997/98 season, they brought Matias Jesus Almeyda, Roberto Mancini, Alen Boksic, and Vladimir Jugovic.
Even the results came out instantly. The new players collaborated with the existing names such as Luca Marchegiani, Alessandro Nesta, Diego Fuser, Giuseppe Pancaro, Roberto Rambaudi, and Pavel Nedved.
In his first season dealing with Lazio, Erikson was only able to bring Lazio in the 7th position of the Serie A standings. But even in his first season, Eriksson was able to offer Lazio with the cold title, the Coppa Italia and the 1998 Coppa Italia Super Cup for the first time for Lazio.
Furthermore, this man from Sweden was also able to bring Lazio to the top of the 1998 UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, Lazio had to surrender in the hands of fellow Italian representative, Inter Milan, after being shaved out 0-3.
Even so, for Eriksson, it was a good start and in the 1998/99 season, Cragnotti became even more insane. The transfer market practically belongs to them with the success of bringing Christian Vieri, Jose Marcelo Salas, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Dejan Stankovic, Sergio Conceicao, Igor Protti, Fernando Couto, and Ivan de la Pena. They spent more than 100 million euros and could not help but be optimistic.
Sure enough, Eriksson’s incision continued when he was able to take Lazio to win the 1998/1999 Cup Winners Cup in the final season. The trophy in European competition became more complete when Lazio was able to win the UEFA Super Cup in 1999. This incision became Lazio’s first notch in the Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup.
However, in that season, Lazio had the most marks because of the failure to make a treble. The reason was that they have been able to secure the Supercoppa Italiana title by beating Juventus. Then, they also succeeded in becoming the last championship for Winners Cup after beating Real Mallorca at the top party.
It was difficult to accept the loss because at that time Serie A became the most prestigious competition. There was even an assumption says that winning the Serie A title was still more important than being a champion in European competition.
In the 1999/2000 season, Eriksson finally managed to find a formula to secure the Italian League trophy. Again, through the crazy action of Cragnotti, Lazio transferred Christian Vieri in the summer of 1999. Internazionale, who was also trying to hunt down the Scudetto, welcomed the emergence of the name Vieri on the sale list. The 30 million pounds plus Diego Pablo Simeone was handed over by Massimo Moratti as a dowry to redeem Vieri.
The money from Vieri’s transfer was then used to bring Juan Sebastian Veron and Roberto Nestor Sensini from Parma. With Vieri being the only big player to leave, Lazio was only getting stronger. However, at the same time, Juventus also recovered from its worst season in the 1990s. Alessandro Del Piero’s recovery from a knee injury made La Vecchia Signora appear to be a strong candidate for the Scudetto winner.
Sure enough, during the determination of the Serie A competition, Juventus, which is at the top of the standings, won two points ahead of Lazio. Juventus which played against Perugia, only needed a draw to ensure their winning. Right when the Old Lady started the match, Lazio was almost finished cutting Reggina’s three goals without reply.
Despite defeating Reggina, there was no expression of happiness on the faces of Biancocelesti’s fans. Juventus became the favorite champion.
But with a messy feeling and prayers, the players, management, until the fans were willing to wait for the match between Juventus and Perugia to be resolved.
Seeing the incompetence of the Perugia players, the universe chose to intervene. Alessandro Calori who was then 33 years old was chosen as an intermediary of the match. Four minutes after the break, the failure of the Juventus defender to sweep the ball perfectly made the ball fall into Calori’s chest. With one move, the Italian man then took off a horizontal kick which Van der Sar could not reach. 1-0 for the host.
Hearing the news, cheers broke out the supporters of Lazio. Until finally, the fight at Renato Curi was over. Juventus, with all their efforts, still failed to break into Andrea Mazzantini’s goal. For Lazio, the wait was finally over. They succeeded in achieving their first Scudetto since 1974 they had tried. Tifosi invaded the field to welcome the players who were also scattering.
The audience rumbled, cheered, surprised, shouted, and even cried uncontrollably. A miracle had just come to Lazio.
But the good times did not last long. The reason was that only a year after the Scudetto was secured, Cirio, which became the main source of Lazio’s funds, experienced financial problems and eventually went broke.
They did bring Gaizka Mendieta, Jaap Stam, Stefano Fiore, and Darko Kovacevic at a high price. However, it was done after Juan Veron, Pavel Nedved, and Marcelo Salas were also sold at a high price.
All methods that had been done to save their finances were not still enough to save Lazio and Cirio. In 2003, Cirio filed for bankruptcy and in the following season, Cragnotti was wanted by prosecutors for embezzlement. The President’s regime practically ended and the departure of the star players was inevitable.