In recent weeks, Sampdoria’s ”Blucerchiati” colours have often been seen around London on the occasion of the presentation of ”The beautiful Season”, the documentary directed by Marco Ponti and recounting the magical year of the only Sampdoria league win (Scudetto).
Il Circolo, together with CinemaItaliaUK and under the patronage of the Italian Embassy, recently organized two events to celebrate Marco Ponti’s documentary, the recent winner of the Nastro d’Argento in the “Eroi dello sport” category.
The documentary’s release is also intended to honour Gianluca Vialli, who passed away at the beginning of 2023. Vialli had made London his second home, first professionally as a Chelsea player and coach and then as a life choice.
Gianluca Vialli dedicated the last eighteen months of his life to this project and, under the subtle and intelligent guidance of Marco Ponti, he tells us the story of his ”beautiful season”: Sampdoria winning the Scudetto, his friendship with Roberto Mancini, the realization of a dream that seemed impossible.
That magical football season becomes, in the imagination of the director Marco Ponti, much more: it is the story of a family, of a group of friends, of an inextricable mix of ambition, boldness, lightness of spirit, fate, it is the story of a city and its Blucerchiati fans.
It is the story of a football that no longer exists: the football of passionate patrons such as Moratti from Inter, Berlusconi from Milan, and, indeed, Mantovani from Sampdoria, of players who didn’t change strip throughout their careers, when passion and fans were much more important than sponsors and financial results, a football in which the myth of David and Goliath could still be relived and a ‘provincial’ team could win the Scudetto against the big city rivals.
Mantovani, ‘’father’’ president, managed to assemble a unique team with players ‘’stolen’’, even if only for a few years, from Inter, Milan, and Juventus. In 90/91, Sampdoria was strong and could compete. Perhaps the decisive motivation came from the disappointment of his Italy’s national team players who had just squandered the great opportunity of the 1990 World Cup and wanted to demonstrate that they had enough skill to share the stage of a Serie A full of first-rate stars, Maradona above all.
So, game after game, we follow Sampdoria’s championship challenge but thanks to Marco Ponti, we also begin to see what happens behind the scenes: the doubts, the small rivalries, the jokes, the “chemical reaction” generated by characters very different people who create a team spirit that is more than the sum of the single individuals, the spirit that allows a group to overcome difficult moments together by finding mental and physical resources that they didn’t know they had.
Ponti slowly brings to light the relationship between the two main characters, Vialli and Mancini, and between them and the team. It is here that “the beautiful season” touches the most intimate chords of a great friendship, albeit slightly muted by the awareness of experiencing a magical moment that may never be repeated. Sampdoria won the Scudetto and the following year, at the end of an exciting run of positive results, reached the final of the Champions Cup at Wembley but lost it to one of the many winning incarnations of Barcelona. After that final, the diaspora begins, and the players of that group begin to leave Sampdoria to join Juve, Lazio and Inter.
Was the ‘’beautiful season’’ over? No!
That beautiful season was built on values that went well beyond sport, and fate offers that group the opportunity to achieve, to be together one last time and build another unexpected victory. Mancini becomes head coach of the Italian National team and calls many ex-Sampdoriani to his staff, first of all Gianluca Vialli. Italy plays in the 2020 European Championships and, excitingly, reaches the final against England. Wembley again, almost thirty years later…The match was decided by the lottery of penalties and this time, they brought home the Cup!
The film is very beautiful and emotionally engaging. It talks of universal values through the epic story of a football team. We have all experienced a “beautiful season” in our lives, a moment that we may never be able to relive, but it makes us feel good when we remember it.
Difficult to think of a better way to remember Gianluca Vialli than by recalling his ‘beautiful season’ of Sampdoria’s Scudetto. It would be great if the success of this documentary brought a bit of luck to Sampdoria, who have just been relegated at the end of a troubled season, guiding them to an immediate return to Serie A and, who knows, to another ”beautiful season”.
The film, screened at the Picture House in Fulham Road, was preceded, the evening before, by a beautiful presentation event at the Italian Embassy, which was attended, among others, by the director Marco Ponti, Gianluca Vialli’s wife and Gianfranco Zola, the unforgettable champion, who enriched the evening by recalling his time spent with Vialli at Chelsea. The film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime rental (Italy only). A book of the same title, written by Vialli and Mancini together, is published by Mondadori,
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Our blog, ‘The Fox and The Hedgehog,’ is curated by Vincenzo Cappelluto.