BT Sport Films explores golden era of Italian football in the UK in 1990s

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BT Sport Films has confirmed the next instalment in its acclaimed documentary series, Golazzo: The Football Italia Story, which will premiere at 10pm on Saturday, 31 March on BT Sport 1.

The film captures the essence of a unique period for football fans in this country, a period in which Italian football became hugely popular in the UK following England’s run to the semi-finals at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.

Presented from locations across Italy by the face of Italian football on British TV during the 1990s, James Richardson, Golazzo features iconic moments from archives not seen on TV for twenty years, reconnecting fans with the unmistakable look of Italian football on TV at that time. The film relives the Richardson-led Saturday morning magazine programme, Gazzetta Football Italia, plus, classic moments from Channel 4’s live Serie A match coverage. The film’s archive, which brings to life a football scene that was watched by millions every week on terrestrial TV, will reconnect viewers to the classic football kits of Fiorentina and Parma, world class players such as Batistuta and Ronaldo, and, to the packed passion-filled stadia hosting matches.

Following the birth of the Premier League in 1992 and BSkyB’s exclusive coverage of the competition, it was a time when the cream of the world’s best footballers featured every weekend on terrestrial TV. English clubs were generally toiling in Europe and England had failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, Italian football was where Europe’s best players flocked to perform including the likes of Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard. This, added to Gazzetta’sItalian coffee shop backdrops and the live matches featuring glamorous match-ups between Europe’s dominant clubs, Italian football provided a contrast to existing football coverage in the period.

Richardson said: “The film captures a time when Serie A was the world’s most powerful and competitive league, filled from top to bottom with colourful characters and stories.It was a pleasure and a privilege to work on Gazzetta Football Italia back then, and it’s been a delight to revisit those glory years for this documentary.”

The film features interviews with:

      • Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard reflecting on their memories as youngsters following Italian football
      • Paul Ince, Gianfranco Zola, Paul Elliott, Ray Wilkins, Joe Jordan and Luther Blissett reflecting on their playing time in Serie A
      • Michael Grade, former BBC chairman, and, former ITV executive chairman, who was instrumental in securing Serie A rights for Channel 4. Plus, TV executives Neil Duncanson and Steve Gowans who helped to create Gazzetta
      • Paul Heaton, who as frontman of band The Beautiful South penned some of the most well-known songs of the decade. Heaton was an avid fan of Italian football and appeared on Gazzetta
      • Beppe Signori, the gifted Number 10 who became hugely popular to UK viewers following his prolific goal-scoring performances for Lazio
      • Peter Brackley, the voice of Italian football on Channel 4 as match commentat

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “Golazzo: The Football Italia Story is more than the story of Italian football’s popularity in the 1990s. As with all of BT Sport Films output, this film goes beyond individual storylines and personalities, to paint a vibrant picture of the wider football landscape of an era cherished by British football fans.”

The film is the latest in a series of revealing documentaries by BT Sport Films, with the world of referees, the Bradford City fire and the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon all previously being looked at in-depth to great acclaim. BT Sport Films that have already aired to date include:

      • No Hunger in Paradise, which outlines the pressures, pitfalls and rewards of making it as a professional footballer
      • Rocky & Wrighty: From Brockley to the Big Time, an in-depth look at the extraordinarily separate but intertwined stories of Arsenal legends Ian Wright and David Rocastle.
      • The Crazy Gang: an in-depth look at the extraordinary story of Wimbledon FC in the 1980s.
      • One Day in May: The Story of The Bradford City Fire: the story of how a fire took so quickly that it consumed the main stand at Bradford City in less than four minutes in 1985
      • Silver Lining: a study in the dynamics of the sporting relationship between Olympians – and husband and wife – Gemma Gibbons and Euan Burton
      • Football Outposts: Arsenal fan, author and ex-EastEnders star Tom Watt embarks on journeys to various British and European football outposts.