BT Sport pays homage to Football Italia in new documentary

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BT Sport Films has confirmed the next instalment in its acclaimed documentary series – Golazzo: The Football Italia Story – will premiere at 10pm on Saturday 31st March on BT Sport 2.

The documentary captures the essence of a unique period for football fans in this country, a period in which Italian football became hugely popular in the UK following England’s run to the semi-finals at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Presented from locations across Italy by the face of Italian football on British TV during the 1990s – James Richardson – Golazzo features iconic moments from archives not seen on TV for twenty years, reconnecting fans with the unmistakable look of Italian football on TV at that time.

The film relives the Richardson-led Saturday morning magazine programme, Gazzetta Football Italia, plus classic moments from Channel 4’s live Serie A match coverage.

The film’s archive, which brings to life a football scene that was watched by millions every week on terrestrial TV, will reconnect viewers to the classic football kits of Fiorentina and Parma, world class players such as Gabriel Batistuta and Ronaldo, and, to the packed passion-filled stadia hosting matches.

Following the birth of the Premier League in 1992 and BSkyB’s exclusive coverage of the competition, it was a time when the cream of the world’s best footballers featured every weekend on terrestrial TV.

English clubs were generally toiling in Europe and England had failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, Italian football was where Europe’s best players flocked to perform including the likes of Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard.

This, added to Gazzetta’s Italian coffee shop backdrops and the live matches featuring glamorous match-ups between Europe’s dominant clubs, Italian football provided a contrast to existing football coverage in the period.

Now a regular presenter on BT Sport, former Channel 4 Football Italia host Richardson said:

“The film captures a time when Serie A was the world’s most powerful and competitive league, filled from top to bottom with colourful characters and stories.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to work on Gazzetta Football Italia back then, and it’s been a delight to revisit those glory years for this documentary.”

The film features interviews with football legends Paul Ince, Gianfranco Zola, Paul Elliott, Ray Wilkins, Joe Jordan and Luther Blissett, who all reflect on their playing time in Serie A, while Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard also provide their memories as youngsters following Italian football.

From behind the camera, contributions come from former BBC, ITV and Channel 4 boss Michael Grade, who was instrumental in securing Serie A rights for Channel 4, as well as Neil Duncanson and Steve Gowans, who helped to create Gazzetta.

Also involved are Paul Heaton, frontman of The Beautiful South, who was an avid fan of Italian football and appeared on Gazzetta, Beppe Signori, the gifted Number 10 who became hugely popular to UK viewers following his prolific goal-scoring performances for Lazio, and the voice of Italian football on Channel 4 as its match commentator, Peter Brackley.

Commenting on the new documentary, Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said:

“Golazzo: The Football Italia Story is more than the story of Italian football’s popularity in the 1990s.

As with all of BT Sport Films output, this film goes beyond individual storylines and personalities, to paint a vibrant picture of the wider football landscape of an era cherished by British football fans.

The Football Italia film is the latest in a series of documentaries by BT Sport Films, with the world of referees, the Bradford City fire and the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon all previously being looked at in-depth.

Golazzo: The Football Italia Story will premiere at 10pm on Saturday, 31 March on BT Sport 2.

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