Tarcisio Burgnich

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Tarcisio Burgnich
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-N0619-0034, Fußball-WM, Argentinien - Italien 1-1.jpg
Tarcisio Burgnich (left) with Argentine midfielder René Houseman at the 1974 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Date of birth (1939-04-25) 25 April 1939 (age 77)[1]
Place of birth Ruda, Italy
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing position Sweeper/Right-back/Centre-back
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1958–1960 Udinese 8 (0)
1960–1961 Juventus 13 (0)
1961–1962 Palermo 31 (1)
1962–1974 Internazionale 358 (5)
1974–1977 Napoli 84 (0)
Total 494 (6)
National team
1963–1974 Italy[1][3] 66 (2)
Teams managed
1978–1980 Livorno
1980–1981 Catanzaro
1981–1982 Bologna
1982–1984 Como
1984–1986 Genoa
1986–1987 Vicenza
1987–1988 Como
1988–1989 Catanzaro
1989–1991 Cremonese
1991–1992 Salernitana
1995–1997 Foggia
1997–1998 Genoa
1998–1999 Lucchese
1999–2000 Ternana
2000–2001 Pescara

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 April 2008.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17 April 2008

Tarcisio Burgnich (Italian pronunciation: [tarˈtʃiːzjo ˈburɲitʃ]; 25 April 1939, Ruda, Italy) is an Italian former football manager and player, who played as a defender.

Throughout his career, Burgnich played for Udinese, Juventus, Palermo, Internazionale, and Napoli; although he won titles with both Juventus and Napoli, he is best known for his time with Inter Milan, where he was a member of manager Helenio Herrera's Grande Inter side. He partnered with fellow full-back Giacinto Facchetti in the squad's back-line and played a key role in the team's successes in Herrera's defensive catenaccio system, due to his pace, stamina, offensive capabilities, and defensive work-rate, winning four Serie A titles, two European Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups.

At international level, Burgnich represented the Italy national football team at the 1960 Summer Olympics, where they finished in fourth place, and at three FIFA World Cups, winning a runners-up medal at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. He was also a member of the national team that won Italy's first ever UEFA European Football Championship on home soil, in 1968.

A versatile player, he was capable of playing in any defensive position, being adept as a sweeper, as a centre-back, and also as a right-back. Due to his imposing physique, as well as his tenacious style of play, Inter team-mate Armando Picchi (who was the captain and sweeper of the side) gave him the nickname "La Roccia" (The Rock).[4]

Club career[edit]

After short spells at Udinese, Juventus (winning the 1960–61 Serie A title) and Palermo, in Serie B, it was with Internazionale that he found his spiritual home in the 1960s, after being acquired in 1962.[5][6]

A strong, quick, energetic and versatile defender, he was effective both offensively and defensively, and formed a formidable full-back partnership with Giacinto Facchetti, both with Inter and with the Italian national side. He played 467 times for the Nerazzurri, scoring 6 goals, where his physical and tenacious playing style was ideally suited to the catenaccio system operated by Helenio Herrera throughout Inter's glory years.[7] With Inter, Burgnich enjoyed a highly successful period of domestic, European, and international dominance, winning five Italian championships, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. He was notably part of the legendary Inter lineup of the 1960s still known today as the Grande Inter.[5][6]

Following his 12 seasons with Inter,[5][6] he transferred to Napoli in 1974 for the final three seasons of his career, finally winning the Coppa Italia, as well as the Anglo-Italian League Cup in 1976, before retiring in 1977. In total, he made 494 appearances in Serie A throughout his career.[5]

International career[edit]

Burgnich was also a pillar of the Italian national team for more than a decade. He represented Italy at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, where they finished in fourth place, and later helped the national side win their one and only European Football Championship title in 1968. He was also on Italy's roster for the 1966 World Cup, as well at the 1970 World Cup, where they reached the final, only to lose 4–1 to Brazil. In the memorable semi-final match against West Germany, often colloquially known as the "Game of the Century", Burgnich even managed to score a goal, helping his team to overcome the Germans 4–3 following extra time. He also took part in the 1974 FIFA World Cup with Italy. In total, he represented the Azzurri 66 times between 1963 and 1974, scoring twice.[5][8]

He may best be membered for his quote about Brazilian star Pelé's headed goal against him, following Italy's 4–1 defeat to Brazil in the 1970 World Cup Final (Burgnich had been assigned to man-mark the Brazilian during the final, but was beaten by him in the air):[4][9]

"I told myself before the game, 'he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else' — but I was wrong."[10]

After retirement[edit]

After his retirement, Burgnich worked as a manager on and off for nearly twenty years, with little success. During this time he managed Catanzaro, Bologna, Como, Livorno, Foggia, Lucchese, Cremonese, Genoa, Ternana and Vicenza.[5]

Style of play[edit]

A strong, large, quick, and energetic player, Burgnich is regarded as one of the greatest Italian defenders of his time; his imposing stature and physical, aggressive playing style earned him the nickname "La Roccia" (The Rock). He was a versatile and hard-working footballer who was capable of aiding his team both offensively and defensively; he was capable of playing in several defensive positions, and throughout his career, he was deployed as a centre-back, as a sweeper, and as a right-back, where he particularly excelled in Herrera's catenaccio system, due to his pace, stamina, physicality, and tenacity, forming an important partnership with left-back Facchetti. Burgnich was also an excellent man-marker and a hard tackler, who was known for his anticipation, as well as his concentration and discipline.[4][5][6][7]

Personal life[edit]

Burgnich has Croatian roots on his father's side, since the city of Udine was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before WWI.[5]




Team Season Serie A Coppa Italia European
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Udinese 1958–59 1 0 - - - -
1959–60 7 0 - - - -
Juventus 1960–61 13 0
Palermo 1961–62 31 1
Internazionale 1962–63 31 0
1963–64 33 0
1964–65 32 1
1965–66 30 0
1966–67 30 2
1967–68 30 0
1968–69 30 1
1969–70 26 1
1970–71 29 0
1971–72 27 0
1972–73 30 0
1973–74 30 0
Napoli 1974–75 30 0
1975–76 30 0
1976–77 24 0
Career Total 494 6

1European competitions include the UEFA European Cup, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
2Other tournaments include the Intercontinental Cup.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.[3]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 18 June 1966 Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan  Austria 1–0 1–0 Friendly
2 17 June 1970 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City  West Germany 2–2 4–3
1970 World Cup Semi-final



Juventus F.C.[5]




  1. ^ a b Tarcisio Burgnich at National-Football-Teams.com
  2. ^ "Tarcisio Burgnich Profile". Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Di Maggio, Roberto (29 May 2005). "Tarcisio Burgnich - International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ve lo ricordate Tarcisio Burgnich? Ecco come vive" (in Italian). Il Corriere dello Sport. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Tarcisio Burgnich". Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d "SARTI, BURGNICH, FACCHETTI..." (in Italian). Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Il Terzino" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Nazionale in cifre: Burgnich, Tarcisio". figc.it (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Tarcisio Burgnich, la Roccia che saltò con Pelé: "Il mio calcio senza creste"" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Kirby, Gentry. "Pelé, King of futbol". ESPN. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  11. ^ Di Maggio, Roberto (12 February 2005). "Tarcisio Burgnich - Appearances in Serie A". RSSSF. Retrieved 5 February 2009.