The Laziali created a poll on Twitter to see who the fan favourites of Lazio legends were: there were 4 players that the team chose, and 132 votes were tallied. Below, we find out who the fan-favourite was.
4) Giuseppe Favalli (6%)
A transfer from Serie A side Cremonese, who had just been relegated, Favalli came to Lazio with two other players. The trio were the best players Cremonese had to offer and would only be sold as a package.
A full-back, Favalli was known for technicality. Thin and tall, his playstyle was eerily similar to Nesta though he was not the better of the two. His skill in tackling and heading for balls were due to his ability to anticipate the foward’s movement rather than through rough play. He was also well-known for his agility on the pitch. He became a “beniamino” in the club.
He made appearances for the National Team and played in several international cups with Lazio: though he was not a starter on the national team, his performances were well-rounded player for a player of his position and style.
He took over the captain position after Nesta’s departure and during his tenure, the club saw a scudetto, 3 Coppa Italia’s, and 2 Supercoppa’s. He would also help Lazio win a UEFA Supercup.
After his stint with Lazio, he moved to Chievo Verona for 2 seasons where he subsequently retired.
3) Silvio Piola (8%)
Transferring to Lazio from Pro Vercelli in 1934, Piola was incredibly similar to Chinaglia, except for the fact that he scored many of his goals from headers. Quickly Piola became a “beniamino” of the club with his prolific scoring achieving a total of 149 goals for Lazio, which remains the club record to date. He also retains the “Highest Scoring Italian Player in all Compeitions” with 364 goals and has 30 goals for the National Team (in 34 appearances).
Another “ariete”, he was a very physical player who liked to bully his way through the opposing defense. Much like Chinaglia, once he got going , there were not many who could stop him. In a derby against Roma, in Stadio Nazionale (now “Stadio Flaminio”), he was cut on his forehead and some staples were placed with a bandage on top. In the second half he threw himself towards goal for a header, and the staples let loose filling the bandage with blood.
Unlike Chinaglia, he did not have a temper, was known as a real professional, and today would likely be worth as much as Messi, if not more. With 1or 2 goals a game, it is easy to see why he makes that case.
Lazio sold Piola to Torino thinking he was on the downfall of his career, while probably also in need of finances. They made a mistake, as he scored 27 goals in only 23 appearances. His career amassed 333 goals in 619 Serie A appearances, and were it not for the war he would have had 2 extra years of performance.
His last international appearance was in 1952, and he remains the #3 all-time scorer for the Italian National Team.
2) Giorgio Chinaglia (30%)
A transfer from Internapoli in Serie C, along with Wilson, Chinaglia had previously played in England, but his appearance at Lazio would be the first time of his career playing in the first tier of Italian soccer.
Known as an “all-style” center forward which were called “arieti”, charging the defense the same way a ram would earning his “hunchback” nick-name. These type of forwards were known for ramming through a team’s defense, necessary due to the physicality of defenders at the time. His only weakness being an inability to place the ball properly from a header. A newspaper once said that he had to “make the flexibility of his neck better”.
A preferred right foot, though he could shoot with either, slowing him down was next to impossible. Even when defenders pulled his jersey they were unable to stop him. An incredibly competitive player who always wanted to win, so much so that even during practice he would not settle for losses. Combining his friendly, post-season, exhibition, and regular season goals, he scored a massive 700+ goals in his career and had a 1.0 goal/game ratio. His most controversial moment was a large argument with Italy National Coach Valchareggi after being substituted during a game against Germany.
Unfortunately he left Lazio, and Italy all together, due to the fact that him and his family were being stalked and harassed constantly. He would move to the USA staying with Lazio for 1 year, until being transferred to the Cosmos. Lazio was offered a blank check to sell him in the past, but Chinaglia did not want to leave and Lazio obliged his request.
Roma fans used to call him “Il Golbo” aka “The Hunchback” for when he hunched over to drill through the defense. It is considered an offence since hunchbacks in Italy are considered bad-luck. It is said that during a derby one Roma fan was yelling “Hunchback! Hunchback!” to which his friend replied “I wish we had a hunchback that scored 26 goals a year.”
1) Alessandro Nesta (56%)
Nesta was a product of the Lazio youth team soccer organization. He was the best center-back that Lazio has ever had, and possibly the best to ever live.
A clean player, he was strong but didn’t resort to fouling in order to beat his man. An excellent tackler and header, he was tall with incredible technical ability. He was one of the greatest players who had no need to look at their feet.
Attackers avoided the center of the biancoceleste defense due to his presence, though at the time Lazio’s defence was the top in Italy so the options for the opponent were thin.
Another “beniamino” of the club, this was because he was born and raised in the Lazio family. Even speaking the Roman dialect, he became a pillar of the National Team until the end of his career.
Lazio ultimately sold Nesta to A.C. Milan because of severe financial trouble. Nesta was not keen on leaving but understood they needed the money. Just as his time at Lazio was productive, his time at Milan saw similar success becoming a “beniamino” all over again. Similarly, he would score a healthy amount of goals for a defender at Milan, this time with a total of 10, seven of those occuring during Serie A regular season games.