Here is the first part of a short series looking at the history of the Viareggio Cup. Since its inauguration in 1949 the competition has played host to some of World football’s biggest names and was almost immediately an international success with Partizan Belgrade the first non-Italian winner as early as 1951. But it was during the second decade of its existence that it truly began to thrive, thrusting some of the biggest Italian - and indeed European - names into the general conscience.
The sixties began with success for Milan who by the time of their 1960 win had already recorded six of their eight victories at the tournament. In contrast Juventus, just behind the Rossoneri on seven all-time triumphs, would secure their first win in 1961. Throughout the following years there would be appearances from some true legends of the game; Dino Zoff featured for Udinese, Inter’s Giacinto Facchetti, Sandro Mazzola and Roberto Boninsegna as well as German goalkeeper Sepp Maier would all take part in an ever-growing showcase for young players.
The ‘60’s Viareggio also saw the first televised final stages - starting in 1963 - and a win via drawn lots for Genoa while Fiorentina would secure four victories in the following decade thanks to a great generation of players led by the iconic Giancarlo Antognoni. Alongside the Viola’s success were a string of victories for Dukla Prague (sadly often wearing their home kit) who, with six wins, are the most successful foreign side in the competitions history. Due to these two clubs domination a whole generation of Inter greats would win less than they might expect with a team containing Beppe Baresi, Walter Zenga and Gabriele Oriali.
But the Nerazzurri were far from the only star-studded team not to win, as a Roma team containing Bruno Conti and Agostino Di Bartolomei and the Milan of Franco Baresi and Fulvio Collovati also left empty-handed. Gaetano Scirea would also take to the field in the colours of Atalanta, yet another legend to cut his teeth at Viareggio. Join us tomorrow for a look at the names who graced the tournament in the eighties and nineties.