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Leagues: Serie A

Interview with author and journalist Giancarlo Rinaldi about book


June marked the release of Kindle best-selling author Giancarlo Rinaldi’s 20 Great Italian Games II. Since its release, 20 Great Italian Games II, has garnered praise from readers for its depiction of classic calcio and legendary players.

20 Great Italian Games II is the sequel to Rinaldi’s original book released in 2013. The original, 20 Great Italian Games, current sits in Amazon’s top 20 books on European football.

With an expert’s insight into all things Italian football, the Scottish-Italian Rinaldi has been writing about the game on the peninsula and his beloved Fiorentina for some time. Covering Italian football for Football Italia, Rinaldi has seen much of the country’s highs and lows over the years.

Now with two highly praised books and a blog of his own, fans new and old can learn more about calcio through Rinaldi’s spectacles.

This week World Soccer Talk spoke to Rinaldi about his new book, Serie A and Fiorentina.

Drew Farmer: Giancarlo, your new book 20 Great Italian Games II, hit bookshelves this month. Firstly, what has the reception been like for it?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: It has taken a couple of years to produce a second edition and people have been remarkably patient. A lot of people said the first edition was an ideal read for their summer holidays so, hopefully, they will find this one the same. There is a bit more detail in this edition in response to some constructive criticism of the first.

Drew Farmer: For those not necessarily familiar with the previous book, tell readers what they can expect from it?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I have been following Italian football all my life and writing about it for about 25 years. I have tried to tell the story of some of the greatest matches I have seen and a few that were before my time. There is a special focus on the golden age of Italian football in the 1980s and 1990s when most of the world’s best players were in Serie A.

Drew Farmer: How did the concept for both books come up and tell me about some of the research you did when writing 20 Great Italian Games?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I used to write a lot of historic match reports for my blog – Rinaldi’s Blog – and they always got a good response. By the time I had gathered a significant number I decided to put them into a volume for publication. Research included watching the games again, reading match reports of the time and, of course, ploughing through my own memories.

Drew Farmer: Serie A and Italian football tends to get a bad rap in English speaking countries, at least from my experience writing about calcio. Do you feel your writing has opened new eyes to Serie A?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I think a whole generation of writers have helped to dispel a lot of the myths about Italian football. Some people still hold onto old prejudices but most have seen that calcio has changed a lot since the times of catenaccio. I’d be proud to have played a small part in letting people understand the passion and drama that the game holds.

Drew Farmer: Giancarlo, after writing these two books, what would you say is your favourite Italian game of all-time and why?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: That is a real tricky one, but I’d have to say that one which readers nominated for this edition was pretty special. It was a Roma versus Inter clash when Zdenek Zeman and Roy Hodgson were the managers and it produced a real flood of goals. I won’t spoil the result, go and buy the book to find out. But it was a game with a star-studded cast, especially in that Inter side.

Drew Farmer: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you a few questions about Fiorentina. A great season in 2013/14, overachieving or on par with where they should have been during the season?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I think the Viola did about as well as could be expected with the squad they had. You have to remember that Giuseppe Rossi missed the whole campaign and Mario Gomez, sadly, never really fitted in. I guess they might have sneaked into third place in Serie A with a bit of luck and it was a real shame not to make one of the finals in the competitions where they made the semi-finals. But they did lose out to the eventual winners on both occasions.

Drew Farmer: Coach Vincenzo Montella was sacked, which to me, was quite unexpected. How will that hurt the Viola next term and who do you think will take the hot-seat?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: It will take some time to adjust to a new coach as Montella had a very definite style and vision of play. Paulo Sousa has been tipped to take over which would be interesting but he would definitely take time to adjust. Safer choices might be the likes of Roberto Donadoni or Giampiero Ventura who know Serie A so well.

Drew Farmer: Getting back to your book 20 Greatest Italian Games II, can we expect a third edition or are you looking to put this to bed with the sequel?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I’d really like to produce an edition for the national team , 20 Great Azzurri Games, maybe. Think of all the dramatic matches Italy have had at World Cups and European Nations. If the demand is there, I’d like to write it.

Drew Farmer: Giancarlo, if you had to tell readers about one match to watch that you wrote about, which match would that be?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I think I’d go for Inter’s amazing comeback game against Sampdoria when Alvaro Recoba helped to turn the match. The Nerazzurri looked dead and buried, but produced some of the most pulsating final minutes of a game I have ever seen. Only the most hard-hearted Milanista (or possibly Juventino) wouldn’t get dragged into that epic clash.

Drew Farmer: Finally Giancarlo, Juventus just lost in the Champions League Final and the Europa League featured several Serie A clubs, including your beloved Fiorentina. Is Serie A on the way back up or are more hard times to come for the Italian top-flight?

Giancarlo Rinaldi: I’d be cautious about trumpeting a major revival as there are still a lot of structural issues that Italy has to address. However, it was pleasing to see a Serie A side make an impact in the Champions League and also to see the teams take the Europa League seriously. Nonetheless, it will take some time, I think, to challenge on a regular basis. Italian teams need to make sure they maximise all revenue streams – via matchday tickets, self-owned stadia, merchandising and the like – before they can really compete. I am not necessarily an advocate of selling up to wealthy overseas owners which has worked for other countries, though. I think with a bit of imagination, Italy can compete without having to flog off its “crown jewels” to the highest bidder.

Giacarlo Rinaldi’s 20 Great Italian Games and 20 Great Italian Games II are both available from and in paperback and Kindle formats.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that has writes for MLSGB and World Soccer Talk. Drew has also been read on Forza Italian Football and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, English football and USA soccer.


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