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If you had walked by Caffé d’Italia on the night of Wednesday, May 25th, you would have realized it was the place to be in the small, hillside village of Cagli.

There, a quite peculiar congregation of men and women of all ages — from nine-year-old kids to people in their eighties — laughed, cried, jumped, fell on their knees and finally dropped to their heads sinking into melancholy.


The Cagli Soccer Field


Only one thing could paralyze the Italian people like that: a soccer game.

The obsession with soccer is so alive in Italy that some believe it is the strongest it has ever been.

“Soccer is part of everyday life in Italy,” said Silvano Bucci, a resident of Cagli in the Marche region and owner of Caffé d’Italia. “We talk about soccer everyday. It is a common subject in the streets; it is a way of socializing.”

“Italy equals spaghetti and soccer.”

Today’s Italian soccer fans grew up in a beautiful era of Italian soccer history, full of enjoyment and triumphs. Among other great victories, they experienced the ultimate conquest during the 1982 World Cup Tournament, with heroic figures such as Paolo Rossi, the leading scorer of that year’s event.

Italy’s enthusiasm for soccer began at a very early stage of the sport. It took only two World Cup Tournaments for the Italians to earn the championship title in 1934.

The legendary Angelo Schiavio, who was to become the leading scorer of that year’s tournament, led the team. This success, repeated in 1938, set off a fever among the population that still occupies a large part of their lives.

The A.C. Milan team of the late 1980s — dubbed the “unbeatable team” — won multiple titles. Franco Baresi, who would be eventually voted as “A.C. Milan’s Player of the Century,” was team captain.

A.C. Milan fans also had the pleasure of witnessing the spectacular skill of such great players in the global history of soccer as the Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard. They made the Italian people, especially A.C. Milan fans, go crazy for the sport.

A Player in Goal


Players on the Field


“Soccer is like a goddess to me,” explained Marco Mezzolani, a Cagli resident and soccer player.

Mezzolani, with his baggy pants and big shirts, is a tremendously outgoing and enthusiastic individual who is renowned as a professional graffiti artist, former break-dancer, passionate writer, reader, and one of the most known and representative figures of the Cagliese pop culture. But most of all, he is a huge soccer fan.

Just when you thought you knew everything about Mezzolani, someone mentions A.C. Milan, and Mezzolani’s eyes open wide.

The team represents one of his deepest passions. As you dig into it, you discover that nothing would be complete in his life without the striped black and white of the A.C. Milan, specifically, and Italian soccer in general.

“Italy equals spaghetti and soccer,” explains Mezzolani’s brother, Roberto. “We like soccer because it is a symbol of liberty and healthiness.” For the Italians, soccer is more than just a game; it is a lifestyle. "

In Cagli for example, Mezzolani and his brother Roberto meet every Thursday night at the Campeto, a soccer field in the town, to enjoy a competitive game among friends that could last for over two hours.

“It is good and fun to play with your friends,” said Roberto Mezzolani. Marco Mezzolani has traveled thousands of miles to Istanbul, Turkey, in order to support his beloved team on the same night many of the people in his town gathered at Caffé d’Italia — May 25.

“Soccer is part of everyday life in Italy,we talk about soccer everyday. It is a common subject in the streets; it is a way of socializing.”

On that date A.C. Milan played Liverpool, England, for the Champions’ League championship. It was a night full of emotion. Milan started the game strong and by halftime, they were on top 3-0.

“We were celebrating; we thought we had them,” Mezzolani remembered. Meanwhile the people in Cagli were cheering and drinking in preparation for the anticipated celebration. However good fortune would not remain on the Italian side, and in the second half, the young Liverpool team found a breather that gave them energy and hope. They eventually tied the game at 3-3.

A Game in Progress


“I saw it coming,” Mezzolani said. “Milan stopped playing when Liverpool came all over us: the adrenaline was unbelievable.”

At the end of the regular 90 minutes, the score was 3-3, sending the teams into two additional overtime periods. The score still remained tied after OT, sending the game to penalty kicks.

During the penalty kicks, drama overshadowed the Italian side while many suffered on their knees in the Caffé d’Italia.

Finally, A.C. Milan needed one score to prolong the game. But on the ninth penalty, A.C. Milan’s striker Shevchenko kicked the ball into the hands of the Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, lifting the English team to glory and dropping the Italians like Mezzolani to misery. “I cried and cried,” he said.