We MUST have a thread for the captain of the greatest Inter side of all time. Below is a detailed biography and some photos.
Born in Livorno on 20th June, 1935, Picchi began his football career in AS Livorno Calcio's youth teams, first as a striker, then as a midfielder. He was given his debut at the age of 19. Mario Magnozzi, Livorno legend and coach at the time, decided to move the young Picchi to the right back position, where he thrived. In 1959, after spending 5 years and 105 matches at Livorno, he moved to SPAL at the request of iconic President Paolo Mazza. 1 year later, Angelo Moratti brought him to Milanese powerhouse F.C. Internazionale Milano (for 25 million lire, or 13 thousand euros), where he spent his peak and most of his career.
He started his career at Internazionale as a right back, a role he previously held at SPAL. During the course of 1961-62 season, legendary coach Helenio Herrera chose to experiment with his position by using him as a libero/sweeper. Picchi shined in his new role, becoming a stalwart in our backline, and indirectly setting examples for teammates Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti. At this time, Internazionale was still captained by Bruno Bolchi.
When Bolchi moved to Verona, however, Picchi was then selected as team captain. Under his captaincy, Inter ushered into an era of unprecedented success, La Grande Inter, dominating at a domestic, continental, and international level.
“He seemed like an invincible weapon.” Nando Dalla Chiesa wrote in his book, Capitano mio Capitano. La leggenda di Armando Picchi, livornese nerazzurro. Sandro Mazzola remembers his former team mate, saying, “He wasn’t the captain because the club had given him the armband, he was the captain because he was our reference point.” Another teammate from La Grande Inter, Tarcisio Burgnich, says: “We played calmly and serenely, because even if we’d lose he would always assume all the responsibility. His image is in all of our houses because it was Armando who carried the cup title with everyone running after him.”
Burgnich’s picture of Picchi as a captain who would take responsibility is reinforced by the story about how Picchi’s teammates protested when Helenio Herrera didn’t want the team to rest after winning the Intercontinental cup in 1965 (vs Independiente). The captain called the president Moratti (Angelo) and asked for at least 24 hours of rest because the team was tired, and in the end Moratti sympathized with the players.
Luisito Suarez, the legendary Spanish centrocampista who won the Ballon D'or with La Grande Inter, talks about his former captain: “Before the games Armando would always say that he preferred to be a goalkeeper because he didn’t like to run. But after ten minutes he was out there running like a mad man screaming at us all. He never wanted to lose.”
At the end of the 1963 European Cup final between city rivals Milan and Eusebio's Benfica, Picchi had told his good friend Bistecca, “Next time the trophy will be mine to rise towards the air.” A vision that transformed into a reality when Inter captured the title in 1964. Picchi went on to win three scudetti, two European cup titles in a row and two Intercontinental cup titles with Inter. He played 256 games for Inter and scored two goals over 7 glorious seasons.
His era at Inter was only finished when he was sold to Varese in 1967 after being dropped by Herrera. He played a season in Varese's colours before beginning his managerial career as a player-coach in the same team. That season ended with Varese's relegation, after losing out on safety by just a single point. The next year, he took charge of Livorno who were last in the championship, but led them to an admirable ninth place finish. His performance as manager attracted the attention of many, with Inter's close rivals Juventus eventually calling for his services. Giampiero Boniperti, Juventus' newly appointed CEO, wanted to create a radical new project, buying young Italian stars such as Capello, Causio, and Bettega, and he decided Armando was the man to spearhead a new Juve. Picchi coached the Bianconeri for a single season, tragically dying of cancer at the end of the year, passing away on May 27 1971 at the early age of 35.
The day of his funeral, the whole city of Livorno flooded the streets to pay homage to a true champion. In 1990, the municipal stadium of his beloved Livorno was named after him and to this day it stands as AS Livorno's official ground.
After his death, even more impressive actions of the captain have been discovered. In a small cabinet belonging to Picchi, letters of gratitude were found from people who Picchi had helped in their tough times. Without telling anyone, Picchi had helped kids in other countries in need of medicine and also the unemployed in need of a job. Why had he done this? Because, in his own words, it was his duty to help others. In his diary, Picchi writes about what defines him as a man:
“Life is short, and I won't throw it away to do silly things. I like to study languages. I don’t like to seem stupid when I’m traveling around the world. For this I always keep myself educated in French, English, Spanish and German. I have always been serious in everything I do because without seriousness you can’t move forward. In this sport, you need to make sacrifices and a spirit that is far from what’s normal. It is always necessary to do only one thing: your duty.”
Doing his duty on and off the field made Picchi a legend, and an example to follow. Who knows how much Picchi might have inspired our very own Zanetti. Massimo Moratti says:
"Armando was a great player, a winner, but first of all a strong and good man. A reference for all to follow, both in his best and worst moments; a symbol. Looking at Zanetti, his honesty, and how he behaves like a champion evokes powerful memories of Picchi. He has given us all a lot and I can only say that for Inter having a captain like this will forever be an honor."
Andrea Ranocchia who was honored with the Armando Picchi award for the best defender under 23 years of age in 2011 said:
“Of Picchi I have only read and seen some clips, but when I arrived at Inter I understood that our club has a rich history and respecting the history, even we young players can understand who were the champions who entered history. I talked about it with Zanetti as well who wore a captains armband honoring this unforgettable black and blue champion. Picchi is remembered by everyone as a reference point both on and of the pitch. An example that has written the history of our club and Italian football.”
Last edited by bandiera; 28 Sep 14 at 18:51.
Great post/article. Just one thing. I think Ranocchia won the Armando Picchi Award in 2011. He was 13 years old in 2001.
thanks for the catch. fixed the mistake.
press release for rano's win: http://www.inter.it/en/news/36280