Lazio Team Of The Decade 2000-2010
As we approach 2010, Goal.com's Stefano Federici selects his Lazio best XI from the past decade...
16 Jul 2009 21:50:35
It certainly has been an eventful decade on the blue side of the capital. After celebrating their centenary just nine days into the new millennium, Lazio completed a league and cup double capping off their most successful season in the club’s 100 year history.
The Biancocelesti went on to become one of the finest clubs in European football in the years that followed, but after some bad moves on the transfer market the decline of Sergio Cragnotti era eventually followed.
The Cirio financial crisis in 2002 saw Lazio near the brink of extinction but following a rescue plan by Ugo Longo, Rome’s oldest club managed to stave off the administrators and underwent a massive downsizing.
Following a period of re-structuring under new president Claudio Lotito, the Biancocelesti finally ended the noughties on a high as they lifted the Coppa Italia and put five years of drought behind them.
After an extremely eventful decade for Rome’s first club, Stefano Federici looks back at the key protagonists as he selects his best XI Aquilotti from the past ten years...
Angelo Peruzzi (2000-07)
Arriving in 2000 on the back of Lazio’s recent league and cup double, the former Inter and Juve keeper ousted the already reliable Luca Marchegiani between the sticks. After taking his place as the Lazio No.1 Peruzzi remained a loyal Aquilotti servant for seven hard years. Amidst financial difficulties and an uncertain future, the Viterbo native provided a rare security for the Biancocelesti.
Massimo Oddo (2002-07)
A loyal servant and Lazio captain, Oddo arrived from Verona in the wake of Alessandro Nesta’s transfer to Milan. In the latter part of his five year stint in the capital Oddo proved to be a driving force for the Biancocelesti as he pushed up and down the flank. The Italian was quite handy in front of goal and even managed to net an impressive seven times in his final full season in Rome.
Alessandro Nesta (1985-2002)
Arguably one of Lazio’s greatest players of all time, the Roman native was a crucial element in Sven Goran Eriksson’s scudetto winning side at the turn of the millennium. An idol among the Curva Nord faithful ‘SandroKan’ grew from the Lazio youth ranks to become one of the greatest defenders of all time. Nesta had a graceful elegance on the field and the Biancocelesti captain proved just as honourable off the pitch when made his €30m move to Milan; in order to save the club from the administrators.
Sinisa Mihajlovic (1998-2004)
The fiery Serb was brought to Lazio at the beginning of the Sven Goran Eriksson era and he instantly became a hit in the capital with a number of stunning free-kick displays. Whilst he may not have been the most accomplished defender, his ability to turn games on set-pieces gave Lazio an added dimension that their rivals simply couldn’t match. His most memorable display came in December 1998 when he managed to score a hat-trick of free-kicks against former club Sampdoria at the Olimpico.
Giuseppe Favalli (1992-2004)
With 401 appearances for Lazio during his tenure in the capital Favalli is undoubtedly one of the most underrated Lazio players of the last decade. Whilst never a big hit with the Azzurri, Favalli gave Lazio an undeniable consistency that eventually saw him merit the captain's armband after the departure of Sandro Nesta.
Sergio Conceição (1998-2000 & 2003-04)
Whilst the Portuguese winger may not have enjoyed the lengthiest of spells in the capital, he certainly made a big impact on the team during his time at Lazio. With an incredible crossing ability from the flank, Conceição provided Lazio with an ability to strike quickly on the counter-attack and Salas and Boksic gladly cashed in on his precision. The decision to offload him and Matias Almeyda to Parma (part of the deal which saw Crespo move the other way) has often been debated as a fundamental reason behind Lazio’s failure to build on their scudetto success of 2000.
Diego Simeone (1999-2003)
‘El Cholo’ became an instant hit with the Lazio faithful following his move from Inter in 1999. After going so close to the scudetto before his arrival, Simeone was instrumental in the league triumph a year later. Often remembered for his gutsy, never say die attitude, his finest moment was a headed winner against Juventus in their own back yard. That victory put a massive dent in the Bianconeri’s march to the title and Lazio eventually overtook at the last to seal off a historic second scudetto.
Pavel Nedved (1996-2001)
After being spotted by Lazio following an impressive Euro 96’ with the Czech Republic, Nedved arrived on the Italian scene to begin what would be a glittering career on the peninsula. The Czech star was a hit with the fans for his impressive performances against arch-rivals Roma. However his finest moment with the Biancocelesti is undoubtedly scoring an 84th minute dazzler in the Cup Winners Cup final. Ironically after spending a further eight seasons with Juventus following his move in 2001, Nedved never managed to surpass the honours he won in just five spectacular years in the capital.
Juan Sebastian Veron (1999-2001)
Despite his brief time in the capital ‘La Brujita’ spent arguably his best two years of his career donning a Lazio jersey. As Lazio’s most regular player in their scudetto triumph, Veron only missed out on three occasions and he was arguably the key component that enabled Sven Goran Eriksson’s side to avenge the lost title from the previous season. With an ability to provide a killer final ball, the Argentinean will never be forgotten for his free-kick winner against Roma back in March 2000.
Tommaso Rocchi (2004 - )
A surprise inclusion given the competition in the forward department, Rocchi has edged the likes of Roberto Mancini, Marcelo Salas and Hernan Crespo purely on a statistical basis. The Veneto native has scored 68 league goals with the Biancocelesti and currently sits sixth in the all time Lazio scoring records. After surpassing Renzo Garlaschelli in sixth place last season, the former Empoli man underlined his outstanding service to the club during a difficult period of transition. With ‘TommyGol’ set to end his career in the capital, he has the potential finish amongst the likes of Bruno Giordano and Giorgio Chinaglia and remain among Lazio folklore for eternity.
Mauro Zarate (2008 - )
Despite his only recent arrival at the capital club, ‘The Zarate Kid’ has already gone a long way to securing legendary status in the Eternal City. Deemed not a champion by a certain No.10 on the other side of the Tiber, Maurito responded in magnificent fashion with a phenomenal strike just four minutes into the derby. ‘El Pibe De Haedo’ went on to have the last laugh when he scored an almost carbon copy goal in the Coppa Italia final against Sampdoria gifting Lazio their first taste of silverware in half a decade. If he continues where he left off last season, Zarate could well be an early contender for Lazio’s team of the decade next time around!
Oddo - Nesta - Mihajlovic - Favalli
Conceição - Simeone - Nedved
Rocchi - Zarate
Do you agree with those who made it into the Lazio Team of the Decade 2000-2010? What would be your XI? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think...
Stefano Federici, Goal.com