|Full name||Nicola Berti|
|Date of birth||14 April 1967|
|Place of birth||Salsomaggiore Terme, Italy|
|Height||1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Nicola Berti (Italian pronunciation: [niˈkɔːla ˈbɛrti]; born 14 April 1967) is an Italian former footballer, who played as a midfielder. Berti's career spanned three decades, during which he played for several clubs: after beginning his career with Parma, he played with Fiorentina, and in particular Internazionale, where he became an important figure in the club's midfield, winning a Serie A title and three UEFA Cups. After his time in Italy, he ended his career with spells in England, Spain and Australia, at Tottenham, Alavés, and Northern Spirit respectively.
A dynamic, tenacious and hard-working player, he was also regarded as a linchpin for the Italy national football team during the late 1980s and the early 1990s, notably reaching the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup with Italy, and finishing in third place in the 1990 edition on home soil.
Born in Salsomaggiore Terme, Berti started his career as a seventeen-year-old with Parma. In his debut season the club won the 1983–84 Serie C1 championship under manager Arrigo Sacchi, and gained promotion to Serie B. After three seasons at Fiorentina he was signed by Internazionale in 1988 for £3.6m.
In his first season at the club, Berti formed a notable midfield partnership with Lothar Matthäus, and was part of a team which won the 1988–89 record breaking Scudetto by an 11-point margin under manager Giovanni Trapattoni, losing only twice, and setting a Serie A points record. Berti himself contributed seven league goals in Serie A that season from midfield.
While at Inter, Berti also won the 1989 Supercoppa Italiana, and the UEFA Cup three times, also reaching an additional final in 1997; he played a key role in the club's victories from midfield during this period, and scored in both the 1991 UEFA Cup Final and the 1994 UEFA Cup Final.
In January 1998, Berti joined Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer. With Spurs in danger of relegation upon his arrival midway through the 1997–98 season, Berti helped the club to a 13th-placed finish in the Premier League. After George Graham replaced Christian Gross as manager of Tottenham, Berti was allowed to leave the club and join Deportivo Alavés on a free transfer.
After playing for Italy's under 21 team at both the 1986 and 1988 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championships under manager Cesare Maldini (reaching the final in 1986), Berti made his debut for the Italy senior team against Norway in 1988, under Azeglio Vicini. He scored his first goal, against Scotland on his third appearance for the Azzurri.
He was included in the squad for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, where he appeared in four matches, wearing the number 10 shirt, including the third place playoff versus England which Italy won 2–1; in the final minutes of the match, he scored from a Roberto Baggio cross, but the goal was incorrectly ruled offside - though Baggio's opener was offside and the winning penalty was dubious. In the 1994 World Cup under Arrigo Sacchi, Berti was more established and played in every match on the way to and including the final; he notably started the play which led to Roberto Baggio's last-minute match winning goal in the quarter-finals, against Spain, with a trademark long pass, after winning back possession. In total, he represented Italy on 39 occasions between 1988 and 1995, scoring three goals.
- Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
|1.||22 December 1988||Stadio Renato Curi, Perugia||Scotland||2–0||Friendly match|
|2.||25 March 1989||Praterstadion, Vienna||Austria||2–0||Friendly match|
|3.||26 April 1989||Stadio Erasmo Iacovone, Taranto||Hungary||4–0||Friendly match|
Style of play
Despite his initial lack of notable elegance or technical ability, Berti was able to greatly improve his ball skills as his career progressed, showing great finesse and technical developments with time, and was known for his ability to run forward with the ball at speed due to his pace and athleticism. He was an energetic, tenacious, and hard tackling box-to-box midfielder, who had a knack for committing fouls and picking up cards due to his aggressive challenges; although he was initially considered to be undisciplined from a tactical standpoint, he later demonstrated significant tactical intelligence as he matured, and unlike most defensive midfielders, he preferred to put pressure on his opponents in more advanced midfield roles and press them further up the pitch rather than mainly sitting in front of his team's defence. A tall, slender, and dynamic footballer, he was known in particular for his pace, stamina, work-rate, and passing range, which made him a versatile player, who was capable of playing anywhere in midfield; these skills allowed him to aid his team both defensively and offensively, or start attacking plays with long balls after obtaining possession. In addition to his ability to break down opposing plays, Berti was also effective in the air, which, along with his attacking drive, powerful striking ability, and positional sense, enabled him to run forward after winning back the ball, and contribute to his team's offensive play with additional goals from midfield. Although he was initially noted for his physical resemblance to playmaker Gianni Rivera in his youth, Berti's attributes and direct playing style later led him to be compared instead to his childhood idol, Marco Tardelli.
- Serie C: 1983–84
- Serie A: 1988–89; Runner-up 1992–93
- Supercoppa Italiana: 1989
- UEFA Cup: 1990–91, 1993–94; Runner-up 1996–97
- Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
- FIFA World Cup Third Place: 1990
- FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1994
- Pirata d'Oro (Internazionale Player Of The Year): 1994
- "I Grandi Campioni – Nicola Berti". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Berti: Italy's new Tardelli". inbedwithmaradona. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- "Nazionale in cifre - Convocazioni e presenze in campo: Berti, Nicola". figc.it (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "ITALIA-INGHILTERRA 2-1: L'Italia non s'è persa (Gli azzurri centrano a Bari l'obiettivo del terzo posto e concludono il Mondiale senza sconfitte. Due gol per una squadra che aveva ancora voglia di correre. Schillaci segna su rigore ed è capocannoniere)". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Spagna Adios, l'Italia avanza". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Convocazioni e presenze in campo: Nicola Berti". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Nicola Berti: "Il derby è unico, mi piaceva stuzzicare i milanisti"" (in Italian). Inter News.it. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Berti prenota la Coppa dell' Inter". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Walter Veltroni (17 October 2015). "Veltroni intervista Tardelli: "Inter e Milan mi scartarono..."" (in Italian). Il Corriere dello Sport. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- Kevin Pogorzelski (2 June 2016). "Italy's No.10 tasked with proving skeptics wrong". La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- GIANNI MURA (30 May 1989). "7,5 A BERTI (ESCLUSO IL LOOK)" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- LICIA GRANELLO (18 June 1991). "LENTINI, L' ULTIMO ACQUISTO" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- Inter.it staff, inter(a t)inter.it (17 November 2006). "F.C. Internazionale Milano". Inter.it. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
- "Onoreficenze". quirinale.it (in Italian). 30 September 1991. Retrieved 19 March 2015.