Rory Hanna Date: 9th October 2011 at 9:00am
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One month ago, publishers Faragher Jones announced that they were folding, and that no more editions of Calcio Italia magazine will be published by them. While this was very sad news, this article is not one lamenting the magazine’s absence, but rather a celebration of all the things it has given to me, people in the UK and around the world.

For an insider’s look back on the 19 years of Calcio Italia’s existence (which, I stress, could continue if another publisher picks up the name and resumes where Faragher Jones left off), co-founder Giancarlo Rinaldi has written an excellent piece on his blog, giancarlorinaldi.tumblr.com. This article comes from a reader’s perspective.

If it were not for Calcio Italia, I would not be watching, reading, talking and writing about Italian football. The first time I ever read a copy of the magazine was in March 2003, when I was 7 years old. Though I had seen previous editions on the shelves, this particular edition had a particularly eye-catching front cover, with a passionate Javier Zanetti celebrating a goal, the blue and black stripes of his Inter shirt beckoning me closer. My grandparents, who were taking me out for the day, kindly bought it for me.

In truth I knew I was hooked before even reading a word. Page 2 of the issue was an advert for Serie A Corinthian Prostars, the little figures with big heads that I loved to collect. I was convinced that this inclusion of one of my passions meant that I would find great happiness when reading the monthly publication.  The Prostars were to resurface again when I was one of 10 lucky winners of a pack of 12 Juventus legends featured in a Calcio Italia competition. I can still remember the delight of seeing the perfectly chiselled, noble sculpts of Paolo Rossi, Giampiero Boniperti and Gaetano Scirea staring up at me.

The articles in that first issue taught me names of ‘new’ clubs like Udinese and Chievo (Chee-voh? Cai-voh? It took me a while to understand Italian pronunciation), and while I had heard of many of the players, I was reading about managers like Ancelotti, Lippi and Capello for the first time. Most intriguing were the cluster of teams in the lower-mid table. For some reason, Empoli, Modena and Perugia gave off an aura of mystique, an effect that still influences me when I read about them.

Around this period Calcio Italia, which was first published in 1992 as part of Channel 4’s Serie A coverage but outlived its sister programme, contained 100 pages, containing so much information that the font size was almost ridiculously small, and each page was filled to the brim, particularly the results section. The details of each game of the month were divided into the different weeks but were scattered across the page, around the photos, in a slightly bizarre fashion. I adored these pages; just seeing all those names of players, once again in tiny text, and all the other pieces of information was a thrill.

There was the comprehensive news section, La Gazzetta, where no piece of news went under the radar. Offside, the quirky two-page section, featured a range of thought-provoking and nostalgic profiles such as ‘One Cap Wonder’, a look at the footballers who played only once for the Italian national team, with one player in the spotlight each month. And I always liked to read John Pitonzo’s column, Postcard from Florence. Where even was Florence? Fiorentina were not promoted until 2004, and at 7 years old, my knowledge of Italy almost entirely came from reading Calcio Italia.

The lesser-known talents in the peninsula were given attention in Calcio Close-Up, which was alarmingly accurate in its predictions on who would make it big. In the March 2003 issue alone, the potential stars mentioned included David Pizarro, Paolo Cannavaro and a 20-year-old Alberto Gilardino, who was waiting behind Adriano and Adrian Mutu for a place in Parma’s attack.

But best of all, of course, were the main features. All Serie A clubs, big and small, and even the occasional Serie B side were covered. Every player making waves, for reasons right or wrong, came under the spotlight. Sometimes the layout and design of the articles were so creative that I couldn’t help but delve in. One such article was Issue 172’s six-page feature on the revolutions at Roma and Napoli – Roma’s change in fortune was examined in the top halves of the pages, while Napoli was explored in the bottom halves. A simple but refreshing technique.

It was these articles, more than anyone or anything else, that really helped me hone my writing skills. I learned how to use effective and colourful metaphors and a range of football terms while keeping the reader interested and not digressing. Hopefully this article doesn’t contradict the rest of this paragraph!

My fondest memory had to be the day I got my first letter published in Calcio Italia, aged 12 (October 2007, Issue 146 with Luis Figo on the cover if you want to check!). I felt so elated that my name was in the publication I cherished so much that I ran up and down the house screaming. My dream was for my name to one day be listed under ‘contributors’ on page 3 of the magazine, having written something for the magazine. Unfortunately that, for now, cannot be realised, but I don’t mind too much. Writing for forzaitalianfootball and sharing my memories of the best magazine in the world with you gives me enough pride. For those of you who never read Calcio Italia, I hope I have illustrated how much it meant to me. For those who did, I hope you enjoyed this trip down la Via dei Ricordi!

For all the latest news on your team don’t forget to check out the Clubs section of Forza Italian Football.

For all the latest Serie A club news don’t forget to check out the Clubs section of Forza Italian Football.

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