Former Biancoceleste player and coach Giuseppe Papadopulo spoke exclusively to Radio Six about the upcoming Derby and his time in Rome. Papadopulo played 3 seasons as a defender between 1969 and 1972 but what every laziale remembers his for, is his tenure as a coach in the 2005/2006 when he was appointed after the sack of Mimo Caso when Lazio was saved from the terror of the bottom of the table and most importantly achieved a win over Roma in the Derby after a failure to achieve so for 5 years. It was a time to bring great joy to a full Olimpico where yours truly was in the stands for the first time.
Speaking of that famous derby, Papadopulo was emotional: "The emotions of that derby were overwhelming, it is impossible to forget. I had been appointed as Lazio coach for only 10 days, and we had an international break and prepare for the derby. Roma were doing so well and Lazio were going through the worst moments in their history. Most players had left, and we had to make the best of what was available. My plan was to use Giannichedda in the middle and the Filipini brothers on the wings and it worked as the squad found the spirit to conquer the derby."
Asked about the secret to win the derby, Papadopulo highlighted that it was the motivation that counted most: "To win you must find motivation, the players must realize how important it is to play for Lazio and most importantly to play the derby. You can forget the results of all games, but not the derby."
Asked about his formation using Reja's squad, Papadopulo seemed to choose a close formation to that of Uncle Edy, "I would deploy Matuzalem and Ledesma in the middle, along with an attacking midfielder next to them and two strikers."
Paolo Di Canio played in Papadopulo's Lazio: "Paolo Di Canio was a leader, but Lazio did not need a leader, the goal was to break the derby loss streak that has lasted for 5 years. In this Lazio when Rocchi is not playing, I don't see a leader. Players must understand that the derby is a game that defines our destinies, they must give their all, it is THE game."
Asked about his expectation of the result, Papadopulo highlighted that Lazio must win: "The draw is not a good result, it will give the advantage to Roma. Now is Lazio's time, they have all the requirements to win."
Asked if he felt the derby more as a player or as a coach, Papadopulo chose the former: "As a player you feel it more, you can try to fight till the end, with heart and hand. As a coach there is a limit to what you can do. The coach can prepare you, but it is in the players' hands, to give it all your heart and this is what matters. When Di Canio scored the first goal, he ran to me and I whispered to him, we are great. We played with confidence."
Will Papadopulo ever return to Lazio ? "I have a great relationship with Lotito and the Lazio environment. We also had good results, so I never say never. At the moment, Reja is doing a good job and is getting results. He is a friend and a good coach. If one day Lotito calls me to come and coach Lazio, I will be greatly satsified."