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Romeo Benetti
Benetti Amsterdam 1974.jpg
Benetti in 1974
Personal information
Full name Romeo Benetti
Date of birth (1945-10-20) 20 October 1945 (age 77)
Place of birth Albaredo d'Adige, Italy
Height 1.82 m
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1964 Bolzano 31 (10)
1964–1965 Siena 31 (7)
1965–1967 Taranto 63 (11)
1967–1968 Palermo 35 (2)
1968–1969 Juventus 24 (1)
1969–1970 Sampdoria 27 (2)
1970–1976 A.C. Milan 170 (32)
1976–1979 Juventus 83 (12)
1979–1981 Roma 27 (1)
Total 491 (78)
National team
1971–1980 Italy 55 (2)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Romeo Benetti (Italian pronunciation: [roˈmɛːo beˈnetti]; born 20 October 1945) is an Italian professional footballer who played as a defensive midfielder. A tenacious player, Benetti played for several Italian clubs throughout his career, winning titles with A.C. Milan, Juventus and Roma. At international level, he represented the Italy national football team on 55 occasions between 1971 and 1980, and took part at the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1980, achieving fourth-place finishes in the latter two tournaments.

Club career

After winning the 1967–68 Serie B title with Palermo, Benetti started his Serie A career in 1968 with Juventus, making 24 appearances and scoring a goal during his first season with the club. However, he did not remain at the club for long, and he joined Sampdoria on loan during the next season. His breakthrough came in the 1970–71 Serie A season, after joining A.C. Milan in 1970, helping the club to three consecutive second-place finishes in the league between 1970 and 1973. During his time at the club, he won the 1972–73 European Cup Winners' Cup, as well as two Coppa Italia trophies during the 1971–72 and 1972–73 seasons, later being named the club's captain, inheriting the armband from teammate Gianni Rivera. He also scored a memorable long-range goal in the Milan Derby against rivals Inter in March 1973.

In 1976, he returned to Juventus and won the 1976–77 and 1977–78 Serie A titles, as well as the 1976–77 UEFA Cup, and the Coppa Italia during the 1978–79 season. As his career came to an end he transferred to Roma in 1979, where he remained until 1981, winning two more consecutive Coppa Italia titles before retiring.

International career

Benetti won 55 caps for Italy between 1971 and 1980, scoring 2 goals throughout his international career. He made his debut on 25 September 1971 against Mexico. He was member of the Italian squads that took part in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, and also in the 1978 FIFA World Cup, where he wore the number 10 shirt as Italy finished in fourth place; Benetti scored a goal from outside the area in the first round of the tournament, in a 3–1 victory over Hungary. He also took part at the 1980 UEFA European Championship with his country, on home soil, where he helped his team to the semi-finals, eventually finishing the tournament in fourth place once again; he made his final international appearance in the third-place match, which ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Czechoslovakia following a 1–1 draw after extra-time, although Benetti was able to net his penalty in the shoot-out. He was voted into Italy's all-time world cup team by website and its members.

Style of play

Nicknamed Panzer (tank), El Tigre (the tiger), and Roccia (rock), Benetti was a tenacious, mobile, athletic, and complete midfielder, who was known in particular for his physical strength, stamina, charisma, determination, consistency, and leadership as footballer, as well as the trademark moustache that he bore for most of his career. Although he was initially deployed as a winger, he usually played as a central or defensive midfielder, and his hard-tackling style of play in this role epitomised the catenaccio tactics made famous by Italy during the 1970s. Despite being a predominantly defensive-minded player, he was also known for his goal-scoring ability from midfield, due to his powerful and accurate striking ability from distance. Furthermore, Benetti also possessed good technique and distribution, which enabled him to function as a deep-lying playmaker at times, and start attacking plays and create goalscoring opportunities after winning back the ball, in particular when playing in teams that lacked a true midfield playmaker. In 2007, he was voted in at number 30 in a list of Football's 50 Greatest Hardmen by The Times online.



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