Mazzola with Internazionale in the 1970s
|Full name||Alessandro Mazzola|
|Date of birth||8 November 1942|
|Place of birth||Turin, Italy|
|Height||1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18 April 2008.
Alessandro ("Sandro") Mazzola (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsandro matˈtsɔla]; born 8 November 1942) is an Italian former professional footballer, who played as a forward or attacking midfielder. He currently works a football analyst and commentator on the Italian National television station RAI.
Sandro Mazzola played for the highly successful Inter Milan team known as "La Grande Inter", during the 60s, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian football players of all time, and as one of the best players of his generation, placing 2nd in the 1971 Ballon d'Or. With the entire career of seventeen seasons played only for Internazionale, he holds the honor of being a one-club man, winning four Serie A titles (1963, 1965, 1966 and 1971), two European Cups (1964 and 1965) and two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965), also winning the Serie A top-scorer award during the 1964-65 season, and reaching the Coppa Italia final during the 1964-65 season, narrowly missing out on a treble with the club in 1965. With the Italian national side, Mazzola won the European Championship in 1968 and reached the final of the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
He is the son of Italian footballer Valentino Mazzola, player of the Grande Torino who died in the Superga air disaster; his younger brother, Ferruccio Mazzola, was also a footballer, who died in 2013.
Sandro Mazzola was born in Turin, Italy a few weeks after his father, Valentino Mazzola, joined Torino from Venezia. His younger brother, Ferruccio, who was named after the president of Torino, was born two years later. Their parents divorced in 1946, but their father gained custody of Sandro, who was 6 years old when his father died in the Superga air disaster.
Sandro Mazzola and his brother Ferruccio signed for Internazionale. He played all his career for Inter, scoring 116 Serie A goals. His Serie A debut was for Inter against Juventus on 10 June 1961, when his team lost 9-1. A year before his debut, Helenio Herrera arrived from FC Barcelona as the coach of Inter. He brought Luis Suárez from FC Barcelona as his midfield general and main playmaker, he had Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti as his fullbacks, Brazilian Jair as his winger, Mario Corso as the left midfielder, Armando Picchi as his sweeper, and Mazzola, who eventually played the game in the inside-right offensive position. Together, they would transform the club into the best team in Italy, Europe, and the world. They were known for their infamous defensive tactics known as "catenaccio". Mazzola won four Serie A titles with Inter, including two consecutive titles in 1965 and 1966. In 1964, Mazzola scored twice to beat Real Madrid in the 1964 European Cup Final to emulate A.C. Milan's feat of the previous season, finishing the tournament as the joing top-scorer, with 7 goals. They would defend their title again the following season by beating S.L. Benfica in the Final. In the 1966-67 season, they made it to their third Final, but lost to Celtic F.C. with Mazzola scoring one goal. Mazzola would also win two consecutive Intercontinental Cups with Inter in 1964 and 1965, as well as reaching the 1964-65 Coppa Italia final, a Coppa Italia third place in 1968, and yet another European Cup final in 1972. In 1971, following his final Serie A title and his performances in Europe, he placed second in the Ballon d'Or, behind Johan Cruyff; this was the closest he ever came to winning the Award, and the first time he was shortlisted as a finalist.
By the end of his career, Mazzola had won four Serie A titles (1963, 1965, 1966 and 1971), two European Cups (1964 and 1965), two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965), one European Championship (1968) and was top-scorer in Serie A in season 1964-65.
Mazzola also played 70 times for Italy between 1963 and 1974, scoring 22 goals. His debut for the national side was against Brazil on 12 May 1963, when he was aged only 20, and scored from a penalty. Mazzola played for his country at the 1966, 1970, and 1974 FIFA World Cups. His biggest achievement came in 1968 when Italy won the 1968 European Championship, and Mazzola was named as a member of the Team of the Tournament. Two years later, Italy arrived at the World Cup in Mexico as one of the favourites. The Italian coach Ferruccio Valcareggi believed that Sandro Mazzola could not play together on the pitch at the same time with the other Italian creative star player Gianni Rivera, who played for Mazzola's rival club Milan. By the second round, he devised a solution which he called the "staffetta" (relay), in order to play both players. Mazzola would start in the first half while Rivera would come in at half time. With this strategy, Italy reached the Final against Pelé's Brazil for the first time in 32 years. The match was billed as the battle between offensive and defensive football, but on game day, Ferruccio Valcareggi abandoned his "staffetta" policy and only used Mazzola until the very end. Gianni Rivera finally went into the game with 8 minutes to go. Two of Italy's biggest technical stars finally united together on the pitch where many people believed they should have been all along, but it was too late. Brazil won 4-1.
After retiring from, Mazzola held an executive position at Inter, between 1977 and 1984, then at Genoa.
From 1995 to 1999 he returned to work at Inter as sporting director, before being replaced by former player and teammate Gabriele Oriali. From 2000 to 2003 he worked as the sporting director of Torino.
He is currently a commentator for Rai Sport. He holds the unique record of being the commentator of the finals of the 1982 FIFA World Cup alongside Luigi Colombo for Telemontecarlo (the first final broadcast on commercial television) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final alongside Marco Civoli for RAI, both won by the Italian national team.
Style of play
Mazzola is widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian football players of all time, and he was capable of playing in several advanced positions. He was primarily utilised as an inside-right under Herrera, but he was also used as a forward, winger and as a supporting striker on occasion. In his later career, he was usually deployed as an offensive midfielder with creative instincts, which was aided by his passing range, vision, technique, ball skills, and close control. He was also a prolific goalscorer as a forward, which enabled him to win the Serie A top scorer award in 1965. Mazzola was most highly regarded during his prime for his pace, stamina, balance, acceleration, and agility, in particular when dribbling at speed, which along with his excellent ball control and technical ability, enabled him to beat defenders frequently in one-on-one situations.
- Serie A: 1962-63, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1970-71
- European Cup: 1963-64, 1964-65
- Intercontinental Cup: 1964, 1965
- Serie A Top Goal Scorer: 1964-65
- European Cup Top Goal Scorer: 1963-64 (alongside Vladica Kovačević of FK Partizan Beograd, and Ferenc Puskas of Real Madrid)
- UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1968
- Ballon d'Or (2nd place): 1971
- Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2014
- "Nella casa di Valentino Mazzola, due camere e cucina per un mito". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- "Sandro MAZZOLA". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "Sandro Mazzola". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Amlan Majumdar (29 October 2011). "‘The Heir Did Arrive’ – The Story Of Valentino And Sandro Mazzola". The Hard Tackle. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- "Nazionale in cifre: Mazzola, Sandro". http://www.figc.it/ (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Alessandro Mazzola". Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- Marcel Haisma; Antonio Zea (9 January 2008). "European Champions' Cup and Fairs' Cup 1963-64 - Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
- "1968 team of the tournament". UEFA. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
- (Italian) Inter Archive
|Serie A Top Scorer (Shared with Alberto Orlando)