|Date of birth||6 July 1911|
|Place of birth||Muzzana del Turgnano, Kingdom of Italy|
|Date of death||26 February 1999(aged 87)|
|Place of death||Milan, Italy|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Playing position||Midfielder, Forward|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Frossi is perhaps best known for wearing correctional glasses during his playing years after suffering from myopia from when he was a child. As a footballer, he was a member of the Italian national team, which won the gold medal in the football tournament at the 1936 Summer Olympics, finishing the tournament as top-scorer. As a manager, he is also known for his developments of the theory of catenaccio, which emphasises a defensive style of football.
Born in Muzzana del Turgnano, Frossi began his career as a professional footballer with Udinese, and, after a long stay in Serie B (with Padova, Bari, and L’Aquila), he was acquired by Ambrosiana Inter, where he made his debut on 21 June 1936, in Mitropa Cup. After that, Frossi was called up for the 1936 Summer Olympics by Vittorio Pozzo, the coach of the Italian national side, leading the team to the victory of the tournament with his prolific performances. In the following years, Frossi played with Inter from 1936 until 1942, winning the “Scudetto” or league championship, twice in 1938 and 1940, as well as the Coppa Italia in 1939. He scored 49 goals in 147 matches with Inter, 40 of which came in the league, in 125 appearances. During World War II, he later also played with Pro Patria between 1942 and 1943, and Como in 1945, before retiring.
Frossi made five appearances for the Italy national football team between 1936 and 1937, scoring eight goals. He was called up by the national team manager Vittorio Pozzo for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, where he made his international debut along with the other members of the Olympic team, scoring a goal in a 1–0 victory over the United States on 3 August; he helped Italy win the gold medal, scoring in all four matches in the competition including the final, finishing the tournament as top-scorer with seven goals. He also made one appearance for the Italy B-side in 1937, in a 3–2 win over Austria on 21 March. He made his final and only other appearance with Italy in a 2–0 win against Hungary on 25 April 1936, scoring a goal.
Style of play
Frossi was an extremely fast right winger both with and without the ball, who possessed a keen eye for goal, which also made him capable of playing as a centre-forward. According to Gianni Brera, he was known in particular for his pace, energy, and coordination; he was not the most technically gifted footballer, however, and was also not particularly good in the air or acrobatically, as he needed to play with glasses due to his myopia. Vittorio Pozzo Described him as an excellent opportunist in the penalty area. Frossi was also known for his accurate shot and striking ability from outside the area, as well as his tactical intelligence, which made him an excellent executor of his team's set-plays.
Shortly after hanging up his boots, Frossi became a coach, and became manager of a series of Italian clubs – Lumezzane, Genoa, Napoli, Monza, Torino, Modena, Triestina, and also Internazionale, without however producing any outstanding results. He was the creator of the 5–4–1 line up, and is associated (with others) with the development of the catenaccio or “lock-out” tactic in football. Frossi often declared that "the perfect result to a football game is 0–0. That is because it is an expression of the balance between the attacks and defences out on the field", with neither side evidently having made a mistake.
For his short (12 matches) tenure as coach at Internazionale, Frossi did the job jointly with manager Luigi Ferrero, a strong advocate of attacking football. Despite an 11 match unbeaten record, Inter dispensed with his services because of dissatisfaction with his tactical style and it seemed that Ferrero had won the battle of ideas, together with influential players such as Enzo Bearzot. Despite this, it was the defensive footballing theories of Frossi, Nereo Rocco and later Helenio Herrera which became dominant in Italian football for the 25 years or so after his time at Inter.
Like many intellectual struggles in Italy, the dispute between advocates of attacking and defensive football continued for years. In international terms, it is probably true that the advocates of a more balanced, attacking football have achieved more success, notably the all-conquering A.C. Milan team of the early 1990s, managed by Arrigo Sacchi, and the 1982 FIFA World Cup winners of Enzo Bearzot.
Frossi was a graduate of law. He later worked as a general manager for Alfa Romeo in the industrial sector, and then, in the last years of his life, he was a columnist for Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera in Milan. Frossi died on 27 February 1999, at the age of 87, at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, after contracting pneumonia. Following his death, in his home town of Udine, a city street near the local Friuli Stadium was named after him in his honour.
- Gjerde, Arild; Jeroen Heijmans; Bill Mallon; Hilary Evans (October 2017). "Annibale Frossi Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics. Sports Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
- Angelo Rovelli (28 February 1999). "Ci ha lasciati Frossi, ala col turbo Fece volare Ambrosiana e nazionale" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "Annibale Frossi" (in Italian). Inter.it. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "Frossi, Annibale" (in Italian). Enciclopedia del Calcio 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "Frossi, Annibale" (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- Macario Reyes (21 July 2011). "XI. Olympiad Berlin 1936 Football Tournament". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- Maurizio Mariani (21 April 2011). "Italy - International Matches 1930-1939". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "Goalless Serie A stalemates are thing of the past". La Gazzetta dello Sport. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "È morto Frossi, l'ala con gli occhiali che trascinò l'Italia all'oro di Berlino" (in Italian). corriere.it. 28 February 1999. Retrieved 21 July 2016.