Welcome to the Hall of Fame Viola

Batistuta’s tears, Albertazzi’s genius and the black-and-white images of a super team of the past

Brando de Leonardis
October 2, 2014

Batistuta's tears, Albertazzi's genius, the black and white images of a super team of the past. And then the two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, the words of the glorious players who have made the history of Fiorentina. All of this and much more happened during the Hall of Fame Viola, which has now reached its third edition. Fiorentina is the first and only club in Italy to have established its own personal Hall of Fame, which has become a regular yearly event that warms the hearts of the fans. The aim of the event is to make indelible over time the deeds of the great heroes of the past; a task fully achieved by the Museo Fiorentina, which recalls memories of historic moments and sacred icons that are part of Fiorentina's football history. It was truly something to see Claudio Merlo's number eight white jersey, the same one in which he won the second "scudetto" for the club. Then the celebration of Nello Baglini, historic patron of the Tuscan team, who embellished the Viola's showcase with a Coppa Italia, a Mitropa Cup and the league title, won against all odds. And then Renzo Contratto, tireless right-back capable of holding off the likes of Maradona, Zico and Platini; a symbol of a team that failed to win yet another league title by just one point. The memory of Armando Segato was a touching moment: a midfielder who always put his class at the team's disposal, completely devoted to Fiorentina, and who "gave up a transfer to Juventus to stay 'in Viola,' as his daughter Cristiana said. Then it was the moment of Mario Mazoni, the coach that led Fiorentina to the victory of the Coppa Italia in 1975. It was a moment to remember the past but also to speak about the future and the new stadium. An idea that has finally been made formal with an official project, which I wrote about here: theflr.net/mwyc9h. Now it's the time to move on with facts, and Florence's mayor, Dario Nardella, who was present at the event, said: "The timer has started the countdown," giving hope to Fiorentina fans regarding this potentially great infrastructural development. Brilliant minds never grow old, and the crowd was easily entertained by the likes of Florentine actor Giorgio Albertazzi, who, at age 91, was still dancing and reciting, and enchanting the audience with an impressive display of language and mental clarity. Albertazzi, considered a master of national theater, confessed that, in 1969, when Fiorentina won the Serie A title, he had everyone dress in purple at the Teatro della Pergola. But the most touching moment of them all was when Gabriel Omar Batistuta was called onto the stage and was welcomed by the audience to the sound of those chants that the fans had dedicated to him during his years as a Fiorentina player. Accompanied by his son Lucas, the "Lion King" was moved in remembering his many significant moments in Florence and the love he received from the city where he became a football champion. The conclusion of the evening was a moment of absolute lust for Fiorentina fans, who admired on stage, at the same time, three "Viola icons" such as Batistuta, Antognoni and Hamrin. Three Fiorentina legends who all together were able to collect the beauty of 418 goals.

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