Giancarlo Rinaldi talks 20 Great Italian Games with fantasista10

Discussing ’20 Great Italian Games’ and more

When fantasista10, found out Italian football expert Giancarlo Rinaldi was releasing an e-book we got very excited indeed. Giancarlo has been a real tour de force for British-Calcio relations over the years, helping launch Serie A into the British subconscious through publications like Rigore! and Football/Calcio Italia, the magazine accompaniment to Channel 4’s excellent Gazzetta Football Italia TV show.

In his latest release ’20 Great Italian Games’, Giancarlo recaptures many of the great stories and dramas from Serie A that helped entrance football fans from around the world. And with games spanning from 1961, right the way through to 2005 from the league that gave birth to the term ‘fantasista‘, names like Baggio, Platini, Maradona and Zico are prevalent throughout, making it a must-read for any nostalgic fan of true number 10s.

Giancarlo was kind enough to answer more than a few questions we had regarding his new book, and the period that covers what was surely the golden era for the fantasista. Here’s what he had to say:

As Italy gave birth to the term ‘fantasista’ obviously we were delighted to hear you were writing a book which subject matter must be chock full of number 10s who graced Serie A during their prime?

GR: The fantasista has been at the very heart of Italian football for as long as I can remember. It would have been impossible to write any book of great games without it being, at least in part, a tribute to the great number 10s. They are dotted throughout the stories I have included.

What can fans of the ‘playmaker’ expect from the book?

GR: Anyone who holds the playmaker dear to their heart should find something special in the book. There are matches including the likes of Zico, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti, Roberto Mancini and Alex Del Piero. It is the nature of such footballers that they almost always played a vital role in the encounters involved.

Did the fantasisti have a big influence in your decision towards the 20 games which were eventually chosen for the book?

GR: I guess, in a subconscious way, fantasisti did influence the match selection for the book. I tried to pick games which were memorable for their scoreline or wider impact on the Italian game. That inevitably meant that players with great imagination and flair took centre stage.

20 Great Italian Games cover

Of all the players you could have chosen, we were elated to see Roberto Baggio make it as your cover star. Can you tell us why you plumped for the Divin Codino, and what he represents?

GR: There were a number of reasons to select Baggio for the cover. He played for so many teams and was there at so many key moments in Italian football history he seemed like the perfect choice. I wanted a player who would appeal to fans of many clubs but also encapsulated some of the things which make Calcio so special. Roby was one of the greatest players I ever had the pleasure to see play in the flesh.


As a dyed-in-the-wool Viola fan, you’ve been lucky enough to have had 3 amazing fantasisti grace your number 10 shirt, in Antognoni, Baggio and Rui Costa – how did they differ from each other and who brought the fans the most joy?

GR: Antognoni, Baggio and Rui Costa were three brilliant players but very different ones. I think there is no doubt that Giancarlo remains the undisputed idol of Fiorentina fans, he stayed for the longest time at the club even if it brought very few honours. To my mind, he was the classic playmaker with vision and poise and elegance that few could match.

The Divin Codino really exploded onto the Italian game in the purple shirt and delivered some virtuoso performances. He was more of a dribbler and goalscorer than Antognoni although one of his masterclasses – on an icy pitch away to Dynamo Kiev – did not see him find the net at all. While others slipped and slid around, he kept his balance in remarkable fashion.

Rui Costa was kind of a mix of the previous two. He had great style but delivered fewer goals than Baggio. Whenever he returned to Florence with Milan, he still got a rousing reception.

Which fantasisti have you admired most during all your years of watching Calcio, and who still gives you goose-bumps whenever you see highlights?

GR: The obvious answer is Antognoni but if I take my Viola glasses off, there have been other fantasisti who I have very much enjoyed watching over the years. Michel Platini had a grace on the ball which was hard to match while Maradona could produce breathtaking genius, even at a time when defenders could use much more crunching tackles than nowadays. I also used to find Milan’s Dejan Savicevic a mesmerising figure on the ball. Roma’s Giuseppe Giannini is another player who I loved to watch running the show from midfield.

Juventus Napoli

Some claim that Francesco Totti is the last of the true fantasisti. Do you believe this to be the case (in the classical sense) or are there any young pretenders in Serie A that could carry on the number 10 tradition?

GR: I don’t think the spirit of the number 10 will ever die, even if the role has undoubtedly changed a lot. I still think every team in Italy likes to have that kind of gamechanger in their squad, even if they don’t see as much gametime as they once did. Players like Juve’s Sebastian Giovinco, Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli or Mateo Kovacic at Inter are among those who have the spirit of the fantasista flowing through their game.

If you had to choose one defining moment, or a particular back-story from the book in relation to a number 10, what would it be?

GR: One of the stories in the book is about an iconic goal Roberto Baggio scored for Fiorentina against Maradona’s Napoli. It was not a change of guard – Diego still had plenty of honours to win – but it did see the Argentinian give a nod towards the Italian’s talent. It was a goal which, even at the end of his glorious career, stood as one of the best ever scored by Baggio.

Thanks, Giancarlo. So where can people pick up the book and how much is it?

GR: The book is available via Amazon for the Kindle or any other device with the Kindle app at in the UK (priced at £1.53), and in the US (priced at $2.99).

Fantasista10 would like to say a huge thank you to Giancarlo for his contribution – a real gent – and we heartily recommend his fabulous release – especially at such an incredible price! You can also follow him on Twitter: @ginkers and keep up to date with him on his excellent blog

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