Gaucci’s Perugia: nostalgia for a President and a football that is no longer

The President of Perugia, Luciano Gaucci, was a real character at the end of the 90s: you can safely say that he conditioned 15 years of Italian football

Gaucci (Perugia)
Gaucci (Perugia)

Luciano Gaucci’s first steps in football

Luciano Gaucci is a Roman entrepreneur in the cleaning sector, including railway stations and airports when in 1975 he joined the Rome of President Gaetano Anzalone, as a small shareholder. In 1981 he was on the board of directors of the Giallorossi club, which at the time was managed by Dino Viola, and in 1983, he was even its vice president. In that season Nils Liedholm’s Roma won the championship after 41 years of fasting.

Always a Roma fan, Gaucci, in 1985, after the resignation of President Viola, then retired, tries to acquire the majority of the club, remaining with a “handful of flies” in hand, so tried to buy the rival citizens of Lazio, But even this negotiation didn’t work. He remained Vice President of Roma until the death of Viola, which occurred in 1991 and after the umpteenth failed attempt to acquire the Capitolini, he moved on to another club, Perugia a team that in its history has managed to reach the second place of Serie A 1978/79, unbeaten, with Paolo Rossi in attack, but due to the calcio scommesse has even known the Serie C2, the current League Pro.

From ’88 to ’91, the Umbrians collect an eighth, a ninth, and a fourth place in series C1. In 1991, Perugia passes from the hands of president Elvio Temperini to those of Luciano Gaucci, who finally after years and years of vain attempts, manages to become the owner of a football team, saving the Grifo one step away from failure.

The adventure with Perugia

Gaucci manages to bring the Perugia in Serie A over a few years, but not without some misstep, the first during the season 1992/93 when the promotion in Serie B is cancellata a tavolino for the illegal sport committed in Siracusa-Perugia and with the Presidente disqualified for 3 years. The adventure in the cadet championship is only postponed: Perugia returns to B in 1994, but the final jump is in 1996. After 15 years Perugia back to breathe the air of the highest series. The Serie A 1996/97 for the Umbrians starts again with Giovanni Galeone on the bench, despite the rumors of the beginning of the season that give the Neapolitan coach in conflict with the ownership.

Gaucci (Perugia)
Gaucci (Perugia)

The summer transfer market brings many footballers and someone with exotic names and little known. From the Levant, a goalkeeper almost 2 meters high, the Serbian Aleksandar Kocić, from Hajduk Spalato, the unknown left-handed attacker, Milan Rapaic, the Dutch midfielder of Padova, Michel Kreek and the fresh winner of the Champions League with Juventus, the “old man” Pietro Vierchowod, already a player for Gaucci when he wore the Roma jersey, who is a super experienced player. The President on the purchase of the Tsar declares: “My motto for the shopping campaign is not to make plans for tomorrow, if then I get stranded today. For this reason, here is the Tsar, intact and motivated in spite of age“. In that Perugia there is also Gennaro Ivan Gattuso, output of the Umbrian vivaio who at the end of the Serie A 1996/97, passes to the Scottish Rangers of Glasgow and in January 1997, returns from the loan to Carpi, Marco Materazzi.

The championship does not go exactly as President Gaucci wishes at the beginning of the season. During the presentation of the team, in the city center, the President, almost in tears: “When I arrived in Perugia I made a promise, today that commitment is honored. Who doubted was wrong, you will never hear us talk about playing only for avoiding relegation”.

Contrary to what the number 1 Umbro states, things do not go exactly according to his plans. In December, Galeone was sacked, in his place a brief parenthesis of Mauro Amenta, to move permanently until the end of the season to the former Parma coach, Nevio Scala. Perugia was relegated to Serie B in the last day with 37 points, equal to Cagliari and Piacenza, but due to the standings is the Grifo to leave the top league.

There are few players that the press of Perugia saves of the unfortunate season, among them there are, Marco Negri who signs 15 goals in his first league in A: also he at the end of the season passes to the Glasgow Rangers, Milan Rapaic and Federico Giunti. The only satisfaction is with Perugia Primavera, which reconfirms Champion of Italy: in the final beats Brescia of Pirlo and Bonazzoli, and for the presence of the audience at the stadium Renato Curi that records an average of 20 thousand spectators.

With the relegation, the umbrians change many men in squad, are few veterans of the previous championship, on the bench sits Attilio Perotti. The season goes between ups and downs and sees the alternation of 3 coaches. Perotti, Bigon, Perotti again to end the season at the playoff against Torino with Ilario Castagner. Perugia beat Toro to penalty kicks and back in Serie A after only a year of Purgatory. The bomber of the season is the quality and geometries gifted midfielder Antonino Bernardini who scores 11 goals.

14 th May 2000, the stay in Serie A and the Intertoto Cup

The return to Serie A, after just 12 months, coincides with the beginning of a cycle that brings the Perugia of the “volcanic” and controversial President Luciano Gaucci, to indulge himself that until a few years earlier seemed impossible. On May 14, 2000, the Serie A classification, reads, Juventus 71 and Lazio 69.

The bianconeri go to Perugia, while the biancocelesti have the Reggina at home. At Renato Curi there are 27 thousand spectators, almost all Juventus fans, the referee of the challenge is Pierluigi Collina. The first half is frozen on 0-0, the teams fall into the locker room. During the breack a biblic deluge is unleashed on the city, floods on the changing rooms and the parking lot of Piazza Umbria Jazz, making the grass of the pitch a kind of swamp. The match was suspended for more than an hour, Lazio won easily his game and waited to see if the match in Perugia starts again or not. Although the field does not seem fully accessible, the referee Collina decides to resume, despite the complaints of Bianconeri. After just 4 minutes from the start of the second half, aided by a varied defensive defense of Ancelotti, Captain Calori signs 1-0 for the Grifo. Juventus do its best until the end, but the Umbrian goal seems bewitched. Triple whistle, the Olimpico explodes, Lazio is resoundingly Champion of Italy. The Perugia of Gaucci and Carlo Mazzone, is a crossroads of an incredible season that will remain in history.

Six consecutive years in the top flight. In the summer of 2003, the victory of the Intertoto Cup in the double challenge against the German Wolfsburg. In the first leg, on August 12, 2003, the Umbrians at the Curi in Perugia, in front of 25 thousand spectators, impose 1-0, with the goal of Bothroyd. On 26 August there is the comeback that is even easier, at the Volkswagen-Arena, the men of Serse Cosmi beat the hosts by 2-0: score Tedesco and Berrettoni. At the end of the match, coach Cosmi makes some statements to Umbria TV: “I would like everyone to feel what I’m feeling now, and maybe I still do not fully realize what we have done. We enter the UEFA Cup head-on, just look at the numbers. For this I confess that for me, I was born with the myth of the Perugia of Miracles, this is the victory of a lifetime”.

The adventure in the UEFA Cup 2003/04, is interrupted in the sixteenth final by the Dutch PSV Eindhoven. In the ranks of the team coached by mister Roger Schmidt, we find players of the caliber of Van Bommel, Bouma, Vogel, Robben and Kezman, too strong and experts for the boys of the small Perugia.

The most imaginative and unsuccessful transfers of the volcanic Gaucci

Jay Bothroyd – An English striker who started his season with Biancossi jersey, but in the end he scored only 5 goals.

Ma-Ming Yu – First Chinese footballer in Serie A, striker who never sees the field in the 2000/01 season

Ivan Kaviedes – Ecuadorian striker with a crazy personality, bought in the summer of 1999,who scored at Inter and Juventus before fleeing to Spain.
Al-Saadi Gaddafi – The son of Gaddafi is signed by Perugia in the summer of 2003 and plays only one game against Juventus, before being disqualified for doping.Likely Gaucci’s craziest transfer ever.

Mika Lehkosuo – An entire career in Finland with the exception of the 6 months in Perugia.

Ahn Jung-Hwan – The Korean author of the golden goal that eliminates Italy from the World Cup of Japan and Korea 2002 is owned by Perugia, but Gaucci says he no longer wants to pay the salary to the one who had ruined the Italians’ World Cup dreams He returns to Asia sometime later.

Emerson Pereira da Silva – Brazilian midfielder who plays in front of the defense, with São Paulo wins a Libertadores and an Intercontinental Cup. His companions are Juninho Paulista, Cafu and Rogerio Ceni. He arrives in Perugia and makes only 2 appearances.

Serse Cosmi and the best of Gaucci’s Perugia

Gaucci and Serse Cosmi (Perugia)
Gaucci and Serse Cosmi (Perugia)

Impossible not to mention the coach Serse Cosmi, symbol of Perugia “miracles” signed in summer 2000 with a contract of 150 million lire. For the coach of Ponte San Giovanni, in the province of Perugia, an eleventh, an eighth, a nineth place in Serie A in the seasons from 2000 to 2003, with victories against the most famous teams and with completely different goals, and the victory of the unexpected Intertoto Cup in 2003.

Marco Materazzi – Central defender, purchased by Inter in the summer of 2001. 5 league titles with the Nerazzurri, a Champions League, World Champion with Italy in 2006

Hidetoshi Nakata – Trequartista purchased by Bellmare Hiratsuka for $3.5 million. With the Umbrians 12 goals before passing to Roma with which he wins a Scudetto.

Fabio Grosso – Left-back, in Biancorossa jersey from 2001 to 2004, hero of the semifinal world cup against Germany and World Champion.

Gennaro Gattuso – Raised in the Umbrian Primavera, made his debut in Serie A in December 1996 with Perugia. He’s also World Champion.

Fabrizio Miccoli – Comes on loan from Juventus. For him 9 goals in 28 appearances.

Zeljko Kalac – Arrived in summer 2002, the Australian giant of Croatian origin, unseated the most famous Sebastiano Rossi. With the Umbrians 4 seasons and then move to Milan.

Fabio Liverani – Just a year for him in Perugia, but the magic left is not forgotten. Purchased by Lazio for 13 million euros.

Zizis Vryzas – Greek striker who scored 25 goals in 107 matches. He condemns Perugia in the intedivisionale play-off against Fiorentina that costs the Umbrian Serie A.

Andrea Mazzantini – Goalkeeper with great technical skills and personalityality, comes to Perugia under the guidance of Carlo Mazzone, becomes an irreplaceable man in a short time. He often performs acrobatic saves and spectacular exits.

Maria – Brazilian defensive outside with strong offensive qualities, bought by Parma.

Davide Baiocco – Dynamic midfielder, Perugino doc, with over 600 presences among professionals.

Milan Rapaic – Croatian left-handed striker and idol of the Biancorossi fans, in the 2002 World Cup, signs the 2-1 decisive of Croatia against Italy coached by Giovanni Trapattoni.

The end of the Luciano Gaucci era

On August 13, 2004, with Perugia relegated after the play-off with Fiorentina, Luciano Gaucci issued a press release: “In recent years I have been concerned to give Perugia Calcio all my efforts to achieve successes and to achieve sports goals never achieved before. I leave this place and club, which I entrust to my children who will know with skill and ability to lead to the conquest of new goals. I still have before me the applause that the Curi fans reserved for me in the last league game, I know their affection for me and for my family and if sometimes there were misunderstandings, they have always understood that I fought vigorously and firmly against those who wanted to plot against our club”.

The Perugia entrusted to the children of Luciano Gaucci, failed in the summer of 2005. In the following season the Umbrians arrive in sixth position in Serie C1. The presidency is assumed by Vincenzo Silvestrini, the coach is Vincenzo Patania, replaced by Paolo Stringara.

Luciano Gaucci in 2005 is investigated for the bankruptcy of the Associazione Calcio Perugia along with his sons Riccardo and Alessandro for conspirazione per bancarotta fraudolenta. He retreaded in Santo Domingo. As a fugitive, he was sentenced to three years for tax crimes, but the sentence was never served, because he took advantage of the indulto. Gaucci has never returned to Italy if not for a very short time, he continued to live in the Dominican Republic where he created a new family.

There is no doubt that Luciano Gaucci, who died on 1 February 2020, left an indelible imprint on our Calcio, a kind of football that unfortunately no longer exists. The history of his Perugia full of meteors, footballers with almost unpronounceable names, arrived in Umbria from all over the world, will remain forever engraved in the memory of the fans of the Grifo, but also in that of all the sportsmen who love this wonderful game that is called football.

By Giovanni Maggio

Written by News Releases

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