Tribuna Stampa – Supercoppa in America.
As soon as I found out that the third edition of the Italian Supercup was going to be played in Washington, D.C., I started working on a plan that would give me the opportunity to attend the match and work the event as an accredited member of the press. At the time I was working as a radio announcer in Venezuela but my idea was to reach out to the Director of Sports of the largest TV station in my country, a network that had the Serie A television rights, and propose an offer he couldn’t refuse. I said to him, “How would you like to travel to the United States with all expenses covered, airfare and hotel and press credentials to report the Italian Supercup? The network will only need to cover the costs of a cameraman that we needed to hire in Washington to record the interviews”. .
I had the expertise of negotiating sponsorship for my international coverages and it wasn’t hard to get the plane tickets from the Venezuelan Airline Avensa and the lodging stay from the Sheraton Hotels. The press passes were approved and we went to the US excited about the magnificent chance of seeing this particular final.
Our first experience was at the University of Maryland, on August 19th, 1993, where AC Milan had their first training scheduled in an almost empty soccer field. It was only a year before the USA 94 World Cup, but somehow the presence of our beloved club didn’t attract the interest of too many fans. There weren’t any zone limits to secure the safety or privacy of the players because the number of fans watching the practice was probably 10 or 20 people. I was pretty perplexed during the “allenamento” as I was standing next to Franco Baresi at the time when he was getting a massage on his legs. The session was focused mostly on stretching and relaxing the muscles after the long transatlantic trip the day before. At the end of the practice, the goalkeeper of the school challenged the Milan players to take shots at him, which they did. They started with easy kicks which led the young student to challenge the rossoneri even more, yelling in Italian “È questo il Milan?”. Right after that, Albertini, Donadoni and Savicevic started shooting unstoppable missiles that somehow ridiculed the goalie. He took the bombarding like a champ, with good sportsmanship and a huge smile, knowing that he was being annihilated by the best time team in the world.
The first day of official practices was a completely different story. This time both teams were there doing a real training session. We had the amazing coincidence of hiring a cameraman that was an ex NFL player for the Washington Redskins, which meant that he was working in the same stadium where he used to play as a professional. This was very convenient because he knew every secret passage through the different tunnels. Unfortunately, not even an NFL player could escape from the fury of the tifosi and for that reason he was the victim of a stolen press credential. It was incredibly funny to see a guy who’d faced so many battles in that R.F.K. Stadium, being defeated by the rowdy italian fans.
The experience in the field was fantastic. Raducioiu talked to me about not having too many opportunities to play and I remember saying that there are always chances. The next day it actually happened when he was substituted for Marco Simone in the 44th minute. Emiliano Mondonico, the Torino Head Coach, wasn’t too happy about Giovanni Galli giving an interview to us, as he shouted loudly “Interviews after the practice”. Our ex keeper, hero of the 1990 final in Vienna against Benfica, really didn’t pay too much attention to Mondonico and proceeded to complete the interview. A very young Demetrio Albertini and the experienced Massaro were quiet, smiley and friendly. I always felt that Paolo Maldini had special sympathy for Venezuelans, he would always stop and talk to us, with kindness, respect and a happy face. On the other side of the pitch, apart from Giovanni Galli we had the opportunity of interviewing the Uruguayan legend Enzo Francescoli and his countryman Carlos “El Pato” Aguilera. We also had the opportunity to speak to a very friendly Roberto Bettega, the ex Juve player who was the Vice President of the Bianconero team at the moment.
As part of the protocalary ceremonies, the team, along with the members of the press, were invited to the residence of the Italian Ambassador. This moment was also phenomenal for my travel companion, Sergio Biferi, the Director of Sports of the VTV network and for myself, as we enjoyed the delicious traditional italian dishes mingling with the players that attended the gala.
The game, played at 2:30 in the afternoon, was exciting only in the sense that we watched it standing right behind the Torino goal post, hoping to see the goals scored by Milan. The stadium looked empty even though 25.000 fans attended the match. Marco Simone scored the only goal in the 4th minute but it was an exciting game as both teams always threatened to score. It was the third Supercoppa for Milan in six editions of the tournament and the second in a row for the rossoneri. It was also a good promotional event for the USA 94 World Cup as this stadium would be one of the venues of the tournament a year later. I would run into these familiar faces again at the R.F.K., in June of 1994, at the Mexico vs Italy 1-1 draw, with the Azurro goal scored by the milanista Daniele Massaro, but that is a story for another day.
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