Death of Comonardo Nicolai, one of the heroes of the Italian League in Cagliari

Death of Comonardo Nicolai, one of the heroes of the Italian League in Cagliari

With Comonardo Nicolai, who passed away at the age of 77, another hero of black and white football dies. A few months after Gigi Riva, Cagliari, who won the Italian championship in 1970, lost another hero. “He left the memory of a great athlete, a polite, kind, respectful and friendly man, who knew how to make himself loved – reads a note from the Sardinian club – welcome Comonardo”.

Impossible Special Goals Man

Born in Ozzano, in the province of Pistoia, he arrived at Cagliari at a very young age after a year in Turin: he stayed there from 1964 to 1976 before moving to Perugia. He went down in history as the “king of own goals”, some of which were impossible (but Riccardo Ferri and Franco Baresi, with 8 goals, later scored more). Nicolae’s most famous work in Turin: a header from the near post that surprised Albertosi in the Juventus-Cagliari match in 1970, which was decisive for the Scudetto and ended in a 2-2 draw.

He struggled to get used to calling it an own goal, but then ended up joking about it: “At first it bothered me but then I got used to it,” he said. “There are players who have had excellent careers but no one remembers them; at least I left my mark on the history of Italian football.”

The famous scopino joke

After his exceptional career at Cagliari, winning the Italian league title, he was also noticed by the national team, and coach Ferruccio Valcareggi, after his debut in a friendly match in Portugal in May, immediately launched him into the starting line-up in Mexico. Legend has it that upon seeing him on the pitch, Sardinia’s representative coach, Manlio Scopinio, famously said: “I expected anything from life, but not to see Nicolae on television all over the world…”. However, his career in the national team ended early. His World Cup lasted the first 37 minutes of the match against Sweden: then an injury ruled him out of the game. He returned to the national team only once, in October 1970 in Bern, in the friendly match that ended in a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, which went down in history thanks to an extraordinary goal scored by Sandro Mazzola.

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Career as a federal technician

After his career as a footballer, he was also a federation coach, launching talents such as Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Totti into the Italian youth team and then also coaching the women’s national team.

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