I’m not sure if this qualifies as a book as it is incredibly short at only 83 pages – the perils of buying an eBook and not checking how long it is in advance.
Gazza in Italy tells the story of England footballer’s Paul Gascoigne’s three-year spell at Italian club Lazio during the peak of Serie A’s reign as the best league in the world. Gazza was young and relatively fresh from his famous tears at World Cup semi-final in Italia ’90 when Lazio began to show an interest. The Italian club were flush with cash and seeking to build a Scuddetto winning team around the mercurial Geordie.
The move was delayed due injury but Lazio stayed committed and Gazza eventually rocked up in Rome. Storey recounts the highs and lows of Gazza’s time there – from brilliant goals to injury worries, from adoration from the fans to vilification in the media. At its heart, Storey is trying to square the circle – why is Gazza seen as having failed in Italy but still absolutely adored by Lazio fans 20 years on. It is a combination of individual
The most nostalgic part of the book for me was the background in how Channel 4 came to show live Serie A and Gazzetta Football Italia – my absolute favourite tv show as a kid. Storey poses the interesting theory that the coverage of Serie A in England helped shape the Premiership by exposing the British game to Italian football on a much more regular basis. However, Storey also appears to use the arrival of Arsene Wenger as the turning point for the Premiership modernising which is probably giving the Frenchman a little too much credit!
Storey also questions whether the move was right for Gazza given his addiction issues. The great ‘what if’ of Gazza’s career has always been whether there was an alternative path that he could have taken that would have seen him stay on top of his demons. Given the nature of his addictions it does seem unlikely, but, as Storey sets out, being away from home and highly scrutinised by an invasive media certainly couldn’t have helped.
Storey read widely for the story and the bibliography would be a great starting point for a PhD in Gazzamania. However, there don’t seem to be any original interviews of the kind that would help the book standout . I appreciate it’s a very short book that maybe wouldn’t justify the expense – but it makes the €5 price a bit steep for such a quick read. (I feel a bit bad complaining about price when authors struggle to make money but it would be remiss not to mention it my enjoyment was diminished by feeling I didn’t get a lot of book for my buck).
Overall, an enjoyable and insightful, if very short read. Interestingly it was originally launched as an audiobook only – narrated by the brilliant James Richardson who hosted Gazzetta Football Italia.