Tarcisio Burgnich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tarcisio Burgnich
Burgnich with Inter Milan in 1966
Personal information
Date of birth (1939-04-25)25 April 1939[1]
Place of birth Ruda, Kingdom of Italy
Date of death 26 May 2021(2021-05-26) (aged 82)
Place of death Forte dei Marmi, Italy
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Position(s) Defender
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 Inter Milan 358 (5)
1974–1977 Napoli 84 (0)
Total 494 (6)
International career
1963–1974 Italy[1][2] 66 (2)
Managerial career
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
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  Italy (as player)
UEFA European Championship
Winner 1968 Italy
FIFA World Cup
Runner-up 1970 Mexico
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Tarcisio Burgnich (Italian pronunciation: [tarˈtʃiːzjo ˈburɲitʃ]; 25 April 1939 – 26 May 2021) was an Italian football manager and player, who played as a defender.

Throughout his career, Burgnich played for Udinese, Juventus, Palermo, Inter Milan, 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 right-back, as a centre-back, and also as a sweeper. Due to his imposing physique, as well as his tenacious style of play, Inter teammate Armando Picchi (who was the captain and sweeper of the side) gave him the nickname "La Roccia" (The Rock).[3]

Club career[edit]

Burgnich began his career with local side Udinese, making his Serie A debut with the club on 2 June 1959, in a 7–0 away defeat to Milan. After short spells at the Friulian side, and subsequently Juventus (where he won the 1960–61 Serie A title), and Palermo, it was with Internazionale that he found his spiritual home in the 1960s, after being acquired in 1962.[4][5][6][7]

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 Italy 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, which relied on a strong defence and fast counter-attacks.[8] 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.[4][5][6][7]

Following his 12 seasons with Inter,[4][5][6] he was controversially transferred to Napoli in 1974, as Inter's new president, Fraizzoli, was trying to rejuvenate the squad. Burgnich spent the final three seasons of his career with Napoli, operating as a sweeper in Luís Vinício's side, and finally won 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.[4][6][7]

International career[edit]

Burgnich at the 1974 FIFA World Cup

Burgnich was also a pillar of the Italy national team for more than a decade. He represented Italy at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome,[9] where they finished in fourth place. He made his senior debut on 10 November 1963, in a 1–1 home draw against the Soviet Union, and subsequently became a permanent fixture in the team's line-up, wearing the number 2 shirt, and later helping the national side win their first ever European Football Championship title in 1968, on home soil. 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.[4][6][10] 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.[4][6][10][11] 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.[4][6][10]

He may best be remembered 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):[3][12]

"I told myself before the game, 'he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else' — but I was wrong."[13]

He later said of the same goal:[14]

"The cross came in and we both leapt as high as we could. Then I came down to Earth where I belong. And he stayed up there, where he belongs, and scored."

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.[4]

Burgnich died on 26 May 2021 at the age of 82. He died at the San Camillo hospital in Forte dei Marmi, where he had been taken following a stroke.[15][16]

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 ability in the air, imposing physique, consistency, and his aggressive yet fair, and efficient playing style earned him the nickname "La Roccia" (The Rock), despite not being particularly tall. A former offensive, central midfielder, he was a tactically versatile, intelligent, and hard-working footballer who was adept at 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 man-marking centre-back (or "stopper"), as a sweeper (in particular in his later career), and in particular as a right-sided full-back or wing-back, where he particularly excelled in Herrera's catenaccio system, due to his pace, stamina, physicality, and tenacity. He formed an important partnership with the more offensive minded left-back Facchetti during his career, which is regarded as one of the greatest full-back pairings in football history; although he was less adept at starting attacking plays from the back-line than Facchetti, and initially less likely to push forward during his time at Inter, the more defensive minded Burgnich was an "old-fashioned defender", being an excellent man-marker and a hard tackler, who was difficult to beat in one on one situations. He was also known for his anticipation and reactions, as well as his concentration, leadership, and discipline both on and off the pitch, despite his reserved character.[3][4][5][6][7][8][17][18] However, he was also known for his experience and organisational abilities as a defender, as well as his ability to play the offside trap, and even excelled as an offensive sweeper or central defender at Napoli during his later career in manager Luís Vinício's zonal marking system, where he was also tasked with advancing into midfield to start offensive plays, and to push forward and contribute to his team's attacks, in addition to his defensive duties.[4][19][20]

Career statistics[edit]


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[21]
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
Total 8 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
Total 358 5
Napoli 1974–75 30 0
1975–76 30 0
1976–77 24 0
Total 84 0
Career total 494 6

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Burgnich goal.[2]
List of international goals scored by Tarcisio Burgnich
No. 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










  1. ^ a b c "Tarcisio Burgnich". Sports-Reference.com. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b Di Maggio, Roberto (29 May 2005). "Tarcisio Burgnich – International Appearances". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Ve lo ricordate Tarcisio Burgnich? Ecco come vive". Il Corriere dello Sport (in Italian). 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Burgnich, Tarcisio: la spada nella roccia". Storie di Calcio (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d "Sarti, Burgnich, Facchetti..." Pianeta Calcio (in Italian). Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Burgnich, Tarcisio". enciclopediadelcalcio.it (in Italian). Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Bedeschi, Stefano (25 April 2013). "Gli eroi in bianconero: Tarcisio BURGNICH" (in Italian). TUTTOmercatoWEB.com. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Il Terzino". Tales of Football (in Italian). Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Tarcisio Burgnich". Olympedia. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Nazionale in cifre: Burgnich, Tarcisio". FIGC.it (in Italian). FIGC. Archived from the original on 6 March 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  11. ^ Mariottini, Diego (17 June 2015). "Italia-Germania 4-3: la brutta partita che fece la storia". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). Archived from the original on 8 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  12. ^ Mura, Gianni (7 April 2014). "Tarcisio Burgnich, la Roccia che saltò con Pelé: "Il mio calcio senza creste"". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  13. ^ Kirby, Gentry. "Pelé, King of futbol". ESPN. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  14. ^ Marcotti, Gabriele (29 December 2022). "Pele was the benchmark against whom all other great players are measured". ESPN.com.
  15. ^ Carla (26 May 2021). "Tarcisio Burgnich, the defender of Herrera's Grande Inter and the Mexico '70 national team has died". Italy24 News English. Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021. Tarcisio Burgnich died last night at the San Camillo hospital in Forte di Marmi, after he had been hospitalized for a stroke
  16. ^ "Inter, Italy defender Tarcisio Burgnich dies, aged 82". The Malta Independent. 26 May 2021. Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  17. ^ Sconcerti, Mario (23 November 2016). "Il volo di Bonucci e la classifica degli 8 migliori difensori italiani di sempre – 2. Primo: Burgnich". Il Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Claudio Nassi: "Tarcisio, leader silenzioso" - TUTTOmercatoWEB.com" (in Italian). www.tuttomercatoweb.com. 30 May 2021. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  19. ^ Taormina, Pino (26 May 2021). "Morto Burgnich, al Mattino disse: «Napoli, la mia seconda vita»". www.ilmattino.it (in Italian). Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Lutto nel calcio, morto a 82 anni Tarcisio Burgnich, terzino destro della grande Inter e della nazionale, chiuse la carriera nel Napoli di Vinicio". La Gazzetta di Napoli (in Italian). 26 May 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  21. ^ Di Maggio, Roberto (12 February 2005). "Tarcisio Burgnich – Appearances in Serie A". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  22. ^ "Eric Batty's World XI – The Sixties". Beyond the Last Man. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2015.