AS Roma Match Program (Tiziano Riccardi) He once decided a Coppa Italia clash between Cesena and Roma. The only game between Cesena and Roma in Coppa Italia history, in fact. What’s more, he wasn’t playing for the Giallorossi, but for the Bianconeri. It was Carlos Bianchi’s first official game, and it wasn’t the best of starts for the Argentine coach who would end up being sacked a few months later for a lack of results. It was he who decided the game with a brace. Scoring goals was what he was best at doing throughout his career. He scored 74 in Serie A, and scored over 300 at all levels. He started right at the bottom, it’s not possible to start from a more provincial province than he did. He is Dario Hubner, one of the most prolific goalscorers of the 1990s, but who only ever played for provincial clubs. He was a rebel, someone who never took much care over his hair or his beard – he normally went out onto the pitch looking as if he’d just woken up. “I became a real player at Cesena, and although I moved around a lot afterwards I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Do you remember that evening in the Coppa Italia?
I scored twice against Roma, we knocked out a Serie A side while we were only in Serie B. We played brilliantly. How could I forget it? I didn’t often get the chance to beat Roma during my career. That night we succeeded. It was actually the one good thing that happened that season. We had the chance to win the league and get promoted to Serie A, but we ended up being relegated to Serie C.
Was Cesena an important time in your career?
Very important. It made me as a player. I joined them from Fano, where I’d enjoyed myself under Guidolin and with the fans, but it was a big step up when I joined Cesena – both in terms of the league I was playing in and the quality I had to show as a player. Everything started from there.
After that you started scoring goals in the top flight as well
I scored a lot at Brescia, and then at Piacenza I was actually top scorer in Serie A in 2002 with 24 goals. I enjoyed myself, I always played football with humility and calmness. And I owed my good form to a lot of other people…
All the attacking midfielders, the wingers, the second strikers who I had the chance to play with. One of them was Roberto Baggio, but there were many others.
What about the coaches?
I was coached by numerous different coaches. And they all coached in different ways. There were some who were tactically brilliant like Guidolin, Silvio Baldini, Novellino. Then there were others who were best at managing the group and in knowing how to motivate the team like Cagni, Sonetti, Mazzone, Bolchi.
Who was the best?
There wasn’t 1 in particular who was the best. I learned something from all of them, and I have something to thank each of them for. There’s no such thing as the perfect coach. Everyone has their own characteristics and their own distinctive features, like I explained before.
It’s been around 13 years since your last season in Serie A. How different is football today?
I have to say that people are a lot more concerned with the details now. When I was training, I was the coach, the assistant, the fitness coach and the goalkeeping coach. The coaching staff limited themselves to coaching only a few players. Now people measure heart-rates, palpitations, excess calories… Modern players are more like robots. There’s much more attention to detail now.
Lots of players nowadays are also either celebrities or have a lot of influence in the media
That’s true, and sometimes it has an impact on a team’s togetherness. Every so often I see players who are only interested in their own statistics, they aren’t playing for the team or for the team’s result. Years ago we’d go for a beer in the evenings together so we could get to know each other better. That doesn’t happen now. If I had to highlight one major difference between modern football and football in my day, that would be it.
What do you think you’ve given football?
I don’t know, but I like the affection I receive from fans on the street. Even though I stopped playing years ago, they still thank me for all the goals I scored, even if it was only for their fantasy football team. I always worked hard, trying to get better every day.
Which of the current crop of centre forwards in Italian football do you rate?
There are some very good foreign players like Dzeko, Icardi and Bacca, who know how to score goals in many different ways. But I want to mention a very talented Italian player – Belotti. He’s not afraid of anything, he goes for every ball, and he seems a very down to earth person as well.
What are you doing these days?
I’m working towards getting my coaching licence at Coverciano. Football will always be a part of my life.