Gino Pivatelli does not have a prominent place in the hearts of Milan fans but a foul in a European Cup final and telling Arrigo Sacchi he wasn’t good enough changed history
You can plan, you can plan and you can plan some more and then something happens over which you had no control, that you couldn’t reasonably have been expected to foresee, and everything changes. That’s not to say that there’s no point in coaches and directors planning, but it is to say that there are times when entirely external events take control – and that doesn’t have to mean something as enormous as coronavirus. Football can turn on events that seem random, unconnected, unpredictable – the bounce of a ball, the shape of the goalposts, the eruption of an Icelandic volcano – or on the unlikely influence of one man.
Take, for example, the case of Gino Pivatelli, a forward for Bologna, Verona and Napoli who was top scorer in Serie A in 1955-56 and won seven caps for Italy. At the end of his career, he played 37 games for Milan, by which time he had lost some of his pace and sharpness in front of goal. He never managed them. And yet without him, the first two of their eras of European pre-eminence may never have come about.