Sunday May 28, 2017  
     
 
  09/04/2011: The Big Bear
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Angelo Peruzzi, born on 16 February 1970 in Blera, Viterbo, a city about an hour north of Rome. Nicknamed Orsone, or “The Big Bear” for his large frame body. Peruzzi played in the AS Roma youth team; in the Roma youth team he used to constantly have candy, salami, and sandwiches hidden in his drawers, and even being a ball boy at the European Cup final between AS Roma and Liverpool.

After signing professional terms, he spent 3 seasons at AS Roma, and then he was sent on loan to Hellas Verona where he performed outstandingly to save the club from relegation. With Verona, he saved a spot kick from Roberto Mancini that would have condemned the team to relegation. This season earned him a return to Roma, where he did not stay long. Roma’s coach publicly called him a “fat ass” in front of all his teammates. In tears, he went to the drugstore to get diet pills (appetite-suppressants) that ended up earning him a 12-month ban as it contained a banned substance. Unhappy with AS Roma’s handling of the situation, he demanded to leave.

Juventus swooped in to sign him at the age of 21. He spent from 1990-1999 with Juventus, and he won three Scudettos and one Champions League title that defeated AFC Ajax Amsterdam in the final on penalties. Peruzzi saved the first as well as Ajax’s 4th penalties.

Peruzzi with SS Lazio

After one season with Internazionale, he transferred to Lazio for €17.9 million in 2000. These were the laziali days of Crespo, Veron, Nedved, Nesta, where we won both domestic and European titles under Sven-Goran Eriksson. Peruzzi played a vital role, and made over 200 appearances in Serie A and European competition with Lazio.

Peruzzi was one of the best goalkeepers in the world. His reactions were incredible, and he never hesitated to come flying out to collect the ball. This guy was a brick wall; at his peak he was probably the best keeper in the world. Not only was he tremendous at reaction-saves, he was a decent penalty-saver too. Lastly, his positioning was near perfect. I can’t recall a single game where he was ever caught badly out of position.

After the 0-0 draw with AS Roma on 29 April 2007, Peruzzi confirmed that he had indeed played his last match due to the frustration of nagging injuries, but he was put on for the final few minutes in Lazio's final home match of the season, a goalless draw against Parma on 20 May 2007, as a goodbye to the fans.

He was named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the 3rd time in his career on 28 January 2008; only he and Buffon have won the award more than once since its inception in 1997.

Many say Lazio’s inability to replace Peruzzi was the reason for their disastrous 2007/08 season. I don’t think any of us disagree about this.

Peruzzi with Italy

For Italy, Peruzzi has been capped 27 times and played at Euro 96. He was scheduled to be the starter at the 1998 World Cup, but suffered a late injury and was taken off the squad. A similar fate hit Angelo two years later at Euro 2000; again, a last-minute injury kept him out as Francesco Toldo led the team to the final. Doctors constantly had told him if he lost weight that the injuries would disappear. Unfortunately for him, despite intense pre-season training he would show up overweight, unable to keep it off.

Trappatoni, the coach who brought him to Juventus, later called him to World Cup 2002 but Peruzzi famously refused. Peruzzi subsequently quit the national team, but came back four years later, backing up Buffon at Euro 2004.

Lippi called him up for World Cup 2006 as the 2nd goalkeeper. He did not play, but all the Azzurri teammates that crowned the world champion has praised him as one of the “secrets to their success.”

(laziali)

 
 
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