Posted: 5/4/2008


     Wednesday 4th May,1949, 59 years ago, the pride of Italy was returning from a friendly match against Benfica in Lisbon, Portugal as opponents for the farewell match of Jose Ferreira when the FIAT GZ12CP plane of Italian Airlines was heard in the fog over their home city of Torino.

    IL GRANDE TORINO were champions of Italy for 5 seasons in a row, and at times had their captain Valentino Mazzola and 8 or 9 other club players in the Azzuri of the Italian National team. Witnesses heard the noise of the engines and then a big bang. It crashed into the hill and into the base of the Basilica of Superga. All 19 players on board and the managers, press, and crew, a total of 35, died on the hill and a nation mourned. Only one player, Saro Toma, had been left behind injured and survived.

    There were four more matches to play before they could add another Scudetto to their honours. They fielded a youth team,(Primavera), and in support so did their four opponents, Genoa, Palermo, Sampdoria and Fiorentino. Torino won all four but the club was crippled. No big insurance as you would have these days, and within a decade they had been relegated to Serie B. They have never really recovered their prowess although they are back in Serie A,and the other team in the city, Juventus have made all the positive headlines.

    Mazzola wore No. 10 and his young son who went on to a very distinguished career with Inter Milan and The Azzuri, Sandro Mazzola was to wear the same number on his jersey.

   On the morning of the FIFA World Cup semi-final in Turin in 1990 between England and West Germany, I took the tram from the main station-Porta Nueva, and then the 16 minute journey 670 metres on the rack railway up the mountain from Corso Casato to the Basilica and the memorial plaque to pay my respects and join the hundreds of others who daily make the pilgrimage. Next time that you visit this beautiful Piedmonte city, when not pay your respects too.