At the age of 14 Franco Barezi lost his parents and was taken to orphanage. Though this fact didn’t hinder him in becoming one of the outstanding defenders in a football history, and the true symbol of the Italian national team, Milan as well. Difficult childhood. Franco was born on May 8, 1960 in the suburbs of Breshia, named Travalliato. Childhood of the future legend didn’t differ from that of millions of Italian boys : school in the morning, football in the evening, football and only football once again. The life style of young Barezi didn’t change much after he and his family moved to more prosperous and perspective Milan.
In Milan two tragedies took place in Barezi’s family. In 1971 Franco’s mother passed away and in a couple of years a terrible car crash took his father’s life. Franco along with his elder brother Giuseppe were brought to orphanage.
Both brothers didn’t seem to have any special perspectives in life. But football came to rescue. Happy chance came their way.
Funny, but Milan wasn’t Franco’s favourite team. The boy was a fan of the red-blacks’ rival – Inter. It was the academy of this club, that Franco with Giuseppe tried to enter in 1974.
The coaches liked Giuseppe at once – he managed not only to play with the ball properly, but also he was in great shape. It wasn’t surprising that Franco’s elder brother was invited to join the team. Franco was unlucky – coaches didn’t see any potential in him.
Barezi’s sports biography could have stayed unbegun but for a happy accident. When a 14 year old guy was going to a dressing room, hardly holding back his tears, he was stopped abruptly by a man, who was standing aside during the game. It was Italo Galiabiatti, a coach, who wasn’t supposed to be there at all, the day before he got dismissed from the academy of Inter and had to join Milan. However, Galiabiatti decided to say good bye to his ex co-workers, so he dropped in. Too judgematic for his age Barezi simply charmed him and the coach made up his mind to take Franco to rossoneri school. That’s how the future legend of the club appeared in Milan for the first time.
“Milan” at that time was headed by the famous Nils Lidholm – one of the participants of the legendary Swedish trio “Gre-No-Lee”, crushing all the rivals of the “Rossoneri” in the late fifties. This was good news for the beginner, because Lydholm was famous for his atypically loyal attitude towards young players . Thanks to the Swede, Baresi was able to make his debut for “Milan”, at the age of 17 – in April 1978 he participated in the match against “Verona”. “Milan” lost 1: 2, but the play of young Baresi was satisfactory.
Inspired with the trust of his coach, Franco spent the unforgettable summer, when he gained much tactically as well as physically – many people noticed that the young man is still too weak for the play in serie A. The results were not long in coming – in the season of 1978/79 Barezi became the primary defender of Milan and participated in thirty matches of the championship. This is especially noteworthy, because in that season the red-black became the champions.
A rough patch
However, the lucky days were followed by a rough patch. In the early eighties Milan was accused of organizing negotiated matches and was forcibly sent to serie B. Young Barezi faced a dilemma – to stay in the team and spend at least a year on games with the weak rivals or search for alternatives. The decision was unambiguous – Milan only.
Another stroke of misfortune happened in 1981. Barezi was infected with a sort of weird virus, which caused paralysis. He even had to use a wheelchair. Physicians made all possible efforts, but they couldn’t find a reasonable explanation of his disease. There were rumours about cancer, however, this affliction receded. Franco was back in the field and doctors still couldn’t find the origin of his mysterious ailment.
The defender of the nation
The reliable play of Barezi Franco interested the head coach of the national team of Italy Enzo Bearsota. He invited the defender to join the team, which went to Spain for participation in the world championship in 1982. The Italian national team won gold there. 22 year old Barezi got the title of the world champion, though he wasn’t even present in the field during the tournament.
The fatal mistake
His golden opportunity will come later. In home world championship 1990 Franco helped the Italian national team win bronze, in 1994 he ended up with bronze in the final as well. Skuadre had the national team of Brazil as its rival, where famous Romario and Bebeto played at that time. The brilliant game of the Italian defenders “dried” the match. The main time of the match ended with a score of 0: 0, and the outcome of the mundial had to be defined by the penalty shootout. The Brazilians coped with it almost perfectly, but in the Italian team, two mistakes were made by the main stars – our hero and Roberto Baggio.
Thus, the sports achievements of Barezi are unique – there is gold, and silver, and the bronze of the world championship on his account.
In the mid-eighties Milan returned to serie A, in 1986 the team was purchased by Silvio Berlusconi . From this moment on the completely new era began in the club history. The wealthiest man in Italy, who loved football wholeheartedly, spent great sums of money on the team without doubts, inviting the best players and coaches. Marko van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Raikaard joined the red-blacks, and all of them were headed by the coach-novator Arrigo Sakki. At those years Milan won the cup/league of the European champions thrice and this club became the champion of Italy 5 times. Franco Barezi remained the captain of the team along with Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costakurta, who formed the backbone of the impassable defence of Milan.
In the mid-nineties Barezi had to face the inevitable : plays became quicker, partners were more and more experienced and Franco didn’t grow any younger. Soon coaches noticed it, and sent him to stock more often. Though Franco’s reputation was still something unshakable, it was clear that it was time he left.
Barezi didn’t linger and announced his retirement immediately after the end of the season-1996/97. In that championship, the player entered the field in 26 games – a good indicator, which says that Franco could be with the team for another two or three seasons. However, the old Milanese lion chose to give way to the young. He himself focused on studying – Baresi was not going to leave football, he decided to become a coach.
After having ended the football career
In this field, however, Franco did not achieve any success. He quickly realized that he was not very much disposed to be involved in coaching and engaged himself in sports management. In 2002, he worked for some time as sports director in London’s Fulham, and then returned to his native Milan. Here he took one of the leading positions in the youth academy of the club.
Now, Baresi controls the “red-black”, so that they couldn’t miss a single talent just like Inter’s coaches missed Franco himself long ago.
Also Franco Baresi regularly performs in the national team of “Milan” legends. This team conducts friendly matches around the world. There is no shortage of people wishing to watch live legends.
As a sign of special respect for Franco Baresi’s merits, his play number “6” stopped being used further and was permanently assigned to the player. No one else will play with this number in Milan.