£630,000 EBT man Lorenzo Amoruso has been holding court for the Daily Record on the subject of a new team joining the SPFL for the first time. If you can’t quite remember who Lorenzo was then read on as Jim Payne pays tribute to one of Scottish football’s truly great comedy turns.
Your humble scribe would confess at the outset of this article that he is a great admirer of much that the great country of Italy has produced. The Renaissance, the music of Verdi, the full bodied red wines, the amazing food, the films of Fellini, Inspector Montalbano, the drama that can attend something as humdrum as parking a car in an Italian street, the architecture, the beautiful women from Gina Lollobrigida to Manuela Arcuri (go on Google her) and the stunning coastal scenery.
Their football hasn’t always been so much to my taste but I recognise that the Milan side of the late eighties and the early nineties was one of the greatest ever club sides and count Paolo Maldini, Alex Del Pierro and Roberto Baggio amongst my favourite players.
But there are certain less palatable stereotypes of Italia which play less well with me. The cynicism of much of its football – exemplified by Juventus last February at Celtic Park – the cars which don’t work when it rains and the false, somewhat theatrical, swaggering, best exemplified historically by Benito Mussolini and more recently by Silvio Berlusconi.
The word braggadocio sounds Italian but is actually English and simply means a loud posturing braggart who uses such bluster to conceal his own inadequacy. The word was surely coined with somebody like Lorenzo Amadiddi in mind.
Signed by Smith in the summer of 1997 as Rangers set off to conquer Europe and win 10-in-a-row, Amadiddi had previously played for Fiorentina. The Tuscan club were on something of a high, challenging for, if not actually winning, honours at home and abroad and were led by the dynamic Gabriel Batistuta. Italian football has traditionally produced top class defenders but despite the usual media hoopla about Rangers landing a real live Italian defender La Viola’s weakness was considered to be their defence and few supporters of the Italian club were sorry when Amadiddi departed for Ibrox… Where he promptly got injured and was out for eight months.
It seemed as though Smith had landed another Seb Rozenthal, a would-be world class Chilean striker who made Derk Boerrighter seem like the acme of fitness. But no, Amadiddi got fit and was in the team in time for it to be beaten into second place in the league by Celtic and to lose the Cup Final to Hearts (trophy-less in 36 years at the time).
Amadiddi saw himself as being in the grand traditions of Italian defenders. In his imagination he combinined the calm elegance of Maldini, the cunning of Baresi and the ruthless toughness of Gentile. He was, in reality, a cumbersome, careless pudding of a player whose ability to give the ball away to opposing attackers in key positions was in a class by itself until Celtic contrived to sign Gary Caldwell in 2006.
Promoted in the Daily Record as a suave handsome hunk who’d have starred in a remake of La Dolce Vita, he reminded me more of crummy cruise ship singer Lou Canova from Broadway Danny Rose and Carlos Del Gatos from the Frasier episode Voyage of the Damned. This was a ’Mediterranean Type’ even the sexually deprived Sybil Fawlty would have turned her nose up at.
European competition brought out the braggadocio in old Lorenzo like nothing else. In December 1999 against Borussia Dortmund, as Rangers sunk to defeat in the UEFA Cup, the Nigerian striker Ikpeba accused Amadiddi of using a racist insult during the game. The Rangers’ captain denied this strenuously but was then faced with making a humiliating climbdown when footage emerged of the Canovarro-esque defender clearly mouthing a racist epithet at the Dortmund player.
A year later Rangers chased a crucial Champions League game in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium against Sturm Graz. The visitors were repeatedly awarded free kicks in dangerous areas around the homesters’ penalty box. Every time a foul was given Amadiddi stepped forward to take the kick, shoving team mates out the way as he did so, then taking a long run up before bashing the ball as hard as he could. Every one of his efforts ended up in either the crowd or a nearby street. It was so pathetic that I remember watching the game in the pub and begging him to let someone else take one because my sides were hurting so much. He didn’t oblige and I fell off my chair.
In the final game of the same campaign Simone equalised late for Monaco to send Rangers out. Guess who made the mistake that let his compatriot in?
Amadiddi was a clown who spoke with an Italian accent reminiscent of Joe Dolce or Chico Marx but he was nevertheless lionised by the Scottish media. Even when he spat on James Grady – dismissing Grady as being a ‘crazy Celtic fan’ – he had in that twilight world of the newsrooms of the Scottish Sun and the Daily Record become the epitome of Latin cool.
He left for Blackburn Rovers in 2003 to bolster his prospects of being picked for the Azurri and promptly sank without trace.
Lorenzo ’Amoruso’ Amadiddi was a joke figure, a talentless, fat-necked, Bailey’s quaffing oaf who gave Italy – hell his fellow braggadocios – a bad name.
Welcome to the Crypt ya big dope.
Amadiddy’s book was called ‘LA Confidential’, which the Sunday Mason saw fit to serialise, describing it as, ‘The most explosive book ever written by a player in Scottish football’. One of the themes underpinning LA’s magnum opus appeared to be pish; Gazza pishing all over Erik B.O. Anderson during a training session; Gazza pishing his own trousers after Walter Smith accused him of being on the pish for a fortnight; and even LA Confidential himself confessing that he took to the pish in a big way while he was injured and had a lot of time on his hands, much of which was spent on the booze with his wee pal Rino Gattuso (himself a pretty pish player while at Ibrox).
Nothing unusual about that, you might be thinking. Lots of genius players such as big Confidential have been notorious drinkers. Yes, but how many of them chose to get out of their nut on Bailley’s Irish Cream?
Aside from the embarrassment of admitting that your favourite tipple was Bailley’s, one can only wonder at how many times Confidential spewed his load while shifting gallons of the sickly stuff before managing to achieve the Nirvana of a drunken stupor.
Still, at least his penchant for Irish liqueurs goes some way to explaining some of his performances against Celtic. It might also account for the tough guy (wearing what seems to be a sports bra) pose on the front cover of the book: ‘Hey, barman. Gimme a Bailley’s… straight!’ (looks round to see stunned reaction of the other drinkers as upright piano stops playing).
From Bailley’s he went on to the hard stuff. In his case, wine gums.
Not only was Amadiddy responsible for ‘LA Confidential’ , he also published a cookbook in collaboration with the Daily Record. No image seems to exist of the cover, but it did exist, as evidenced by this advert for Radio Clyde’s Christmas Party Night hosted by Suzie McGuire in 2002. Every guest was given a free signed copy of “Love Food”, whether they wanted one or not, and as if that wasn’t enough, as it says on the ad, “You could become one of three lucky ladies to take part in Lorenzo’s version of Blind Date!”
We can only imagine the frenzy that caused, particularly since there had been recent revalations in The News of the Screws by ‘Gorgeous Playboy model Viki Neil’ who ‘purred with pleasure as randy Rangers ace Lorenzo Amoruso ran his hands over her 32DD curves’.
Viki went on to disclose that ‘Lorenzo is very well endowed’ – which proved that he didn’t just play like a donkey – and, ‘He kept cupping my breasts and telling me over and over how amazing they were’. The only cups the big man got his mits on that season.
‘I haven’t grabbed such a pair of tits since the last time I shook hands with our forward line,’ Lorenzo didn’t say.
Anyway, there does exist a review of ‘Love Food’ on Amazon which is worth sharing should any NTV readers feel like cooking up some love during the dark winter nights:
“Lorenzo has cooked up a classic here, the big cuddly teddy bear that he is… this really is a must buy for food lovers and fans of inept Italian love Gods alike. He really is to football and food, what David Hasselhoff is to rock and roll. Regarded as something of a joke in his motherland, Lorenzo had to travel to a distant country to find the love and respect he craved. In this book he’s giving the love back, one mouthful at a time. For the rest of us this is a real treat, containing recipes for love from the Ibrox Adonis. So pull up a plate, pour a glass of indifferent Chianti and open wide cause Lorenzo has got a little something for you to chew on.”
To read extracts from the unpublished volume 2 of LA confidential where the great man recalls his primary school days go here.
The sensitive side of Lorenzo was revealed in the Sunday Mail of January 19th 2003, two pages of which were taken up with an exclusive from somebody called Lorna Hughes. Reporting from the Italian village of San Guiliano, recently devastated by an earthquake, she followed in the emotional footsteps of big LA Blaw as he did his bit to help out in his own modest unassuming and very private way – just him accompanied only by his thoughts. And reporter from the Mail. Oh, and a photographer.
Lorenzo was pictured next to ruined buildings (with captions like ‘Moved to tears’) and ‘jumpy’ guards, while Lorna’s must have thought her text would surely put her in the frame for that year’s Pulitzer Prize: ‘Through the dust and rubble, football hero Lorenzo Amoruso walks the ruined main street of San Guiliano di Puglia… determined to do all in his power to help , the Rangers heart-throb visited the hilltop village to pledge £30,000 to an appeal fund.’
Have these poor people not suffered enough, we thought, without having to put up with a visit from Amoruso and his sycophants from the Mail.
Before you run away with the idea that big LA – Kinning Park’s very own Mother Theresa – was actually donating a whole two weeks’ wages, it turned out the he was, in fact, ‘Donating the proceeds of his best-selling autobiography LA Confidential’. Lorna gushed on, ‘The village is so dangerous the Rangers star was one of the few people allowed inside the rescue cordon … But a few minutes later the uneasy peace was shattered by police… They ordered us back to our cars but within seconds, lost patience and produced their guns.’
Maybe the pistols were drawn by cops who had read ‘LA Confidential’ and recognised the author? Anyway, bet the big chap needed a large Bailley’s after that.