Do you remember…. Mark Fish, the first South African in Serie A. And that welcome from Zeman to Lazio: “I don’t know who he is”

The goal is beautiful and important: a shot of left from the center of the area that leaves no space a Guardalben and takes the lead Lazio a Verona against Hellas. It is what you see behind that is not very beautiful, and considering that it is a defender goals take a back seat. And to say that that goal comes in the best period, the one in which Mark Fish, the first South African in the history of A league, desperately tries to say “Hey, I’m not a bin, I can stay here “. He had said it in the previous game, playing very well in the match he won 3-0 against Milan (the down-and-out that Sacks had inherited from Tabarez, not much), had confirmed it in the next race with Verona… net of some blunders. A constant for Mark Antonhy Fish from Cape Town: having to prove you can stay where everyone says you can’t be. TO Cape Town, for example: white and the son of English colonists who arrived in South Africa, but without making a fortune. Difficult youth, turbulent, with some legal problems. And then the football. Yes, even kicking a ball over there is problematic.

It is the South Africa of apartheid, punished by exclusion from all Fifa competition because it was claimed that only white national teams were played. Therefore football is snubbed: whites play rugby. Fish, however, likes to play football, and after the first few kicks in Kaizer Chiefs gets his first contract as a professional ai Jomo Cosmos, and then move on to Orlando Pirates. Meanwhile it has arrived Nelson Mandela, something in South Africa is changing, the national team is multi-ethnic: the “Bafana Bafana”That they see together Doctor Khumalo ed Eric Tinkler, and precisely Mark Fish even go so far as to win the Africa Cup of Nations in January 1996. And it’s a privileged showcase for Mark: that stopper rocky, tall and strong, good even in the goal area, he gets noticed by the world of football that counts. The competition on him is stiff, between clubs (he would like it United) and also between intermediaries who smell the deal.

In the end, the 22-year-old player chooses in the summer of 1996 Lazio from Laird. Or rather, Lazio, not Zeman who, when interviewed on the matter, said “I don’t know who he is”. From classic custom of foreigners of the time, to whom prudence was never suggested in the presentation conferences, nor in the declarations and often not even in the dress code, the first words were ambitious, too much: “I am inspired by Baresi, but I look like a Desailly White”. You said nothing. Of course he has none of either: he is a good scorer and has good feet, but he is a lot slow, and not even play in a defense with In this as a companion he saves him. The first few months are bad, starting with Preparation: also this common trait for those who, coming from minor leagues, found themselves managing the steps of Laird. But Fish is committed and carves out his space: good matches with Milan, good with Verona including goals … then Zeman comes exonerated and takes over Zoff, which excludes it. He returns to a derby, in which he loses Balbo, remedying by removing the Argentine’s goal from the door, but not the second referee e linesmen who assign it.

I biancocelesti they try to turn it on loan to the Bologna at the end of the season, but Olive trees he rejects it already in retreat: too slow. So when the offer of the Bolton of 4 billion Cragnotti, who had paid out just over 2 to get it, doesn’t think twice. In a Premier at the time less technical and with defenders very similar to him Mark finds his dimension: at Bolton he stays 3 years, another five he spends at Charlton, then switch toIpswich Town, but is seriously injured, and then retires. Off the pitch he lives different vicissitudes family and health problems: a sickness, with his girlfriend saving him, and some time later even one fake news announcing his death. But Mark denies: once again forced to prove that he can be there.

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