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Michel Platini and Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona and Michel Platini, 1987.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / IPP

The summer of 1966 had seen a landmark moment in Italian football - the elimination of the national team from the group stage of the World Cup by a footballing minnow, Pak Doo-ik’s first half strike at Ayresome Park giving North Korea a sensational victory over the Azzurri.

The FIGC (the Italian Football Federation) decided to act by permanently blocking the recruitment of foreign players by Italian clubs, a policy they’d temporarily put in place a year earlier. Only those foreign players already playing in Italy would be allowed to play in Serie A.

Fast forward 14 years to 1980 and the Totonero betting scandal was rocking Serie A and Serie B, and no Italian club had won the European Cup since Milan in 1969. To try to help reverse the general state of dissarray, the FIGC decided to abandon the ban on foreign players and allow Serie A clubs to sign one non-Italian footballer for the 1980-81 season, and then two players from 1982-83.

It was a move that would see Italy become the destination of choice for the majority of the world’s top players, making Serie A the best league on the planet. Here’s a look at the foreign players that each club turned to in their bid for Serie A glory…

ITALY'S FOREIGN PLAYERS 1980-81

Club Player
Ascoli Ascoli
Atalanta Atalanta
Avellino Avellino Juary
Bari Bari
Bologna Bologna Enéas
Brescia Brescia
Cagliari Cagliari
Catania Catania
Cesena Cesena
Como Como
Empoli Empoli
Cremonese Cremonese
Fiorentina Fiorentina Daniel Bertoni
Foggia Foggia
Genoa Genoa
Inter Inter Herbert Prohaska
Juventus Juventus Liam Brady
Lazio Lazio
Lecce Lecce
Milan Milan
Napoli Napoli Ruud Krol
Parma Parma
Perugia Perugia
Pescara Pescara Sergio Fortunato
Pisa Pisa
Reggiana Reggiana
Roma crest Roma Paulo Roberto Falcão
Sampdoria Sampdoria
Torino Torino Michel van de Korput
Udinese Udinese Herbert Neumann
Verona Verona

ITALY'S FOREIGN PLAYERS 1981-82

Club Player
Ascoli Ascoli François Zahoui
Atalanta Atalanta
Avellino Avellino Juary
Bari Bari
Bologna Bologna Herbert Neumann
Brescia Brescia
Cagliari Cagliari
Catania Catania
Cesena Cesena Walter Schachner
Como Como Dieter Mirnegg
Empoli Empoli
Cremonese Cremonese
Fiorentina Fiorentina Daniel Bertoni
Foggia Foggia
Genoa Genoa René Vandereycken
Inter Inter Herbert Prohaska
Juventus Juventus Liam Brady
Lazio Lazio
Lecce Lecce
Milan Milan Joe Jordan
Napoli Napoli Ruud Krol
Parma Parma
Perugia Perugia
Pescara Pescara
Pisa Pisa
Reggiana Reggiana
Roma crest Roma Paulo Roberto Falcão
Sampdoria Sampdoria
Torino Torino Michel van de Korput
Udinese Udinese Orlando Lelé
Verona Verona