All-out defence

Alfredo Foni SCROLL TO READ STORIA N.71 / 110

Pragmatic and a winner, both as a player and a coach. He won gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and the World Cup two years later with Italy in Paris. In short, he was Alfredo Foni. He was the man that Masseroni trusted to place at the helm for Inter in September 1952 after two straight seasons in which the Nerazzurri finished behind their local Rossoneri rivals. Inter had potential but needed to find a way of getting the most out of themselves in order to aim for the top objective.

The Nerazzurri scored a lot and put on a show but they didn’t win. There were 107 goals scored in the 1950-51season and 86 in the following one but it was Milan and then Juventus who won the Scudetto. The goals against statistics were holding President Masseroni’s side back. The Nerazzurri’s goal had been breached 92 times in just two seasons. This is what Foni decided to focus on. He built a solid side that was extremely hard to break down. Scant attention was paid to style but the team could make you pay at any moments thanks to the lethal front line: Lorenzi, Nyers and Skoglund. The best result with the least effort, or at least on the surface. It was a “sparagnina” (stingy) team in the words of Gianni Brera. Out of the 19 wins in the first season, eight had finished 1-0. By the end of play, Inter were Champions of Italy for the sixth time, 13 years on from the previous title win. Only 46 goals were scored but just 24 were conceded.

The Olympic champion in Berlin 1936 and World Cup winner in 1938 is considered to be one of the fathers of Catenaccio.

The lack of spectacle saw some turn up their noses, especially in the press. Therefore, Foni made changes for the following season but without compromising on the principles of solidity and organisation which were the fundamentals behind the sixth Scudetto. He won again with the best attack and second best defence. But more importantly, he left a legacy that would become key in the Italian approach to football with what is commonly known as ‘Catenaccio’. It would be the foundation for future successes, including those of the new Inter that was being built by President Angelo Moratti.

Alfredo Foni

Alfredo Foni (Udine, 20 January 1911 – Berganzona, 28 January 1985) moved to Inter from Sampdoria in September 1952. As the Nerazzurri Coach, he would win the league straight away and repeat the feat in the following season. He also coached Italy for a time while still at the helm of Inter between 1954 and 1958 before moving to Bologna. He returned to Inter for the 1968-69 season. As a player, he was a defender and made 23 appearances for Italy, winning gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and he won the World Cup in 1938 in Paris.