The Italian Almanac

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Giacomo Bulgarelli

Giacomo Bulgarelli

Italian soccer great Giacomo Bulgarelli died after a long illness, his ex-club Bologna said. Bulgarelli, 68, who won the European championship with Italy in 1968, is remembered as the symbol of Bologna in the 1960s and 1970s, rivalling Inter Milan`s Sandro Mazzola and AC Milan`s Gianni Rivera as club icons. One of the few modern footballers to stay all his career with his home-town club, midfield general Bulgarelli played 486 times for Bologna between 1959 and 1975 and scored 43 goals. He was the driving force behind the legendary scudetto-winning team of 1964, a side pundits said ``made the earth shake`` and ``played like it was in heaven``.

Rivera, the Golden Boy of `60s soccer, was among the first to remember his old international teammate. ``He was an excellent player and a great person,`` Rivera said. ``He was the ideal partner because he played in a different part of the field from me, but sometimes I`d move back and he`d push up. We worked in synch``. Rivera also recalled teaming up with Bulgarelli to form the first Italian footballers` association and fight for a living wage for all players. ``It was a very important moment,`` he said.

As well as leading Bologna to its seventh and last title in a memorable playoff against Inter, Bulgarelli won two Italian Cups and a Fairs Cup with the Emilian side. Other clubs repeatedly tried to lure him from home, especially Milan where he would have linked up with Rivera. In later years he joked about it, saying: ``One time the deal was done, it just had to be signed, but my wife said, `Don`t even think about leaving this town`. She`s the real symbol of Bologna``.

Bulgarelli played 29 times for Italy in the 1960s, scoring seven goals.