Pasquale LUISO

Bomber and wash machine

He made a name for himself in 1996-97, by a memorable exploit that decided Piacenza's, Milan's and even Italy's future. That overhead kick, that goal scored against Milan the last 1th of December, put the final seal on the fame of this born forward. A champion who remained almost unknown until the age of 27, when finally arrived in Serie A to stay. A true champion able to stop the ball just outside the goal-mouth, and to dribble a couple of times with his back turned to the goal, before scoring through an acrobatic overhead kick and a perfect parabola, in spite of being strictly marked by Milan's and Italy's stopper Costacurta. Piacenza won 3-2 over Italian Champion Milan, pushing its Coach Tabarez to give up and leave his bench to Arrigo Sacchi who, at the same time, decided to quit the national team. The ironic part is that Luiso has always been a Milan's fan.
'Yes it's true. After the game, in the locker-room, my teammates pulled my leg for that reason, and I replied that I made such a blind overhead kick just to miss the goal. Jokes apart, that was the most exciting moment in my career. I felt even worried for my father Raffaele, who is very emotional. After scoring that goal I noticed some bustle around him and I thought he was fainted. However I looked around for my brother Nicola and he beckoned me that everything was okay'. Pasquale Luiso is a simple-hearted boy who saved his genuineness even after being spotlighted by the media. Meanwhile he left Piacenza for Vicenza and showed his talent also in Europe, by playing the Cup of Cups. Until a few months ago a very few people knew him, but now he is one of the most valued Italian forwards. When he played in Serie C2 (4th division), for Sora (a small, southern village in Italy )he was nicknamed: 'il toro di Sora" ('the Sora's bull"), because of his competitive charge, his guts and his headers, that remind a maddened bull inside the ring.
'If they threw me a washing-machine I would head it all the same". Maybe he can technically improve but such an attitude makes him deadly inside the goal-mouth. Luiso is not a flash in the pan, he can score by both his feet and his head and has talent enough to stay at the highest levels. Where did your career start from?
'I was 15 and I played with Afragolese, a small Club of Campania, my homeland. Until then I had just played for fun, with my friends, in the street. There were no football schools and I was still rough. However I had an huge will to succeed and after only 2 seasons with the juvenile team I became part of the major team as a right wing. I emerged as a very consistent player and after 3 seasons as a starter I moved to Sora that revealed itself to be a real turning-point for me. In 1991 coach Claudio Di Pucchio had a really brilliant intuition and convinced me that, with my technical and physical qualities, I could become a great central-forward. I immediately started scoring bunches of goals and things are still going well'.
Another brilliant intuition was the one that pushed Torino's President Gianmarco Calleri to acquire this unknown player from the 4th division in 1994. To the fans and the reporters who asked about Luiso, Calleri used to answer: 'He is like Romario, but stronger by header'. However his experience in Piedmont didn't last very long and a struggling Torino fell into Serie B. What didn't work in Torino?

Quello straordinario trasporto agonistico gli è rimasto dentro e ne fa un cannoniere davvero speciale, magari tecnicamente ancora da perfezionare, ma micidiale quando si tratta di trasformare un pallone dalle parti dell’area di rigore in un gol. "Se mi crossassero una lavatrice, colpirei di testa lo stesso" sintetizza in modo felice la sua irruenza di goleador istintivo. Quello attuale, dunque, non è un semplice fuoco di paglia; sotto la pelle dei successi di oggi guizzano i muscoli di un giocatore vero, con tutte le caratteristiche per rimanere a lungo ai vertici così duramente conquistati. Lo conferma la varietà dei suoi colpi: segna di testa, di destro e di sinistro, indifferentemente, segno che col pallone ci sa fare davvero.

— Dove è cominciata la lunga strada che ti ha portato al successo?

"Ho iniziato a fare sul serio a quindici anni, con la maglia dell’Afragolese, un piccolo club della Campania, la mia terra. Fino allora mi ero divertito col pallone per le strade con gli amici, non c’erano scuole calcio per raffinare i fondamentali, ero un giocatore grezzo e ruspante, ma avevo tanta voglia dentro. Due stagioni nelle giovanili e ad appena 17 anni venni promosso in prima squadra, in C2. Facevo l’ala destra ed ero un buon giocatore, niente di più, con un’ottima costanza di rendimento. Tre stagioni da titolare, poi il trasferimento al Sora, sempre tra i Dilettanti, ed ecco la svolta. Nel 1991 l’allenatore Claudio Di Pucchio mi prese da parte e mi disse: con il tuo fisico e la tua grinta potresti diventare un ottimo centravanti. L’idea mi piacque, mi piazzai al centro dell’attacco e i gol cominciarono subito ad arrivare.E non hanno mai smesso, segno che quella è stata un’intuizione davvero geniale".

L’altra la ebbe Gianmarco Calleri, presidente del Torino, che nel 1994 si accorge di quel ragazzo che continua a macinare reti in quarta serie e lo acquista. "Ma chi è questo Luiso?" gli chiedono sorpresi tifosi e cronisti. "Questo ragazzo" risponde senza esitazioni il presidente granata "è come Romario, il centravanti del Brasile campione del mondo: solo che è più forte di testa". Un biglietto di presentazione niente male, anche se un tantino iperbolico, eppure l’avventura fu di breve durata e ancora oggi a Torino i tifosi rimpiangono il cannoniere venuto dal Sud che faceva gol col cuore; nel frattempo infatti la gloriosa seconda squadra di Torino (la Juventus è sicuramente la prima...) è scesa in Serie B e fatica a emergere proprio per il quasi drammatico problema del gol.

'I owe Calleri very much. When I was young I used to scoring many goals but scouts didn't even know where Sora lies. He had long sight and all of a sudden he brought me from Serie C2 to Serie A. I made my debut in September, playing against Monza for the Italy Cup. We won and I scored my first official goal for Torino. Rampanti was the coach and, a little later, he also gave me the opportunity to make my first appearance in Serie A. However I was just 25, maybe not too young but definitely too inexperienced. Silenzi and Rizzitelli (who now plays in Germany with Trapattoni's Bayern) were the starters and I felt I wouldn't find enough opportunities to emerge. As a result I went to the President and I asked to be traded in Serie B, where many Clubs wanted me and where I would have the opportunity to mature a little more slowly. Shortafter I went to Pescara, where, in spite of an injury, I proved to be ready to play in Serie B by scoring 7 goals'.
Luiso talks the hind legs off a donkey and shows that he didn't get a swollen head after achieving money and success. The hot blood of his land flows in his veins and many years of work and sacrifices strengthened his character. However, last year, his experience with Chievo didn't last very long.
'After Pescara, Torino decided to lend me to Chievo, so that I would be closer and Calleri would have more opportunities to observe me. However just a few days of training were enough to realize that Verona wasn't the right atmosphere for me. I didn't have any controversy with Malesani, like many said, but people, there, are too detached, while I need an enthusiast crowd to give my best. In addition I knew that Avellino wanted me and the chance to play so close to my hometown and my family was too tempting to renounce'.
Avellino revealed itself to be a very hot place with a very hot President, Antonio Sibilia, who, after seeing Luiso training, said: 'Pasquale if you score at least 15 goals I'll give you a Mercedes'. Actually Luiso scored as many as 19 goals but no Mecedes arrived.
'My goals weren't enough to prevent Avellino to fall in Serie C, and it would be unfair to give me a special recompense while the team had to leave Serie B. However that season was a good one for myself and coach Orrico helped me to give my best. He kept on saying: 'Pasquale you have a great gift, your guts. Something that you can't buy at the market. Take advantage of that'.
Do you have any weakpoint?

'Header, quickness and timing are my best qualities but I have many weakpoints. My fundamentals for exemple, because I lacked a good football school when I was a child. I'm still very instinctive and sometimes I lack continuity. However I always take my shot'.
How do you feel about playing in Serie A and in Europe after many seasons spent in the minor divisions?
'A great excitement. When we played against Milan and I saw champions like Weah and Baresi going to the field along with me, I thought I was dreaming. Then Serie A means a better technical quality, while Serie B is much ruder and bad fouls are frequent. Finally in Serie B I knew that I could make mistakes and sooner or later I would get my revenge. In Serie A you don't have so much time to emerge and prove your talent. When you make a mistake, it's hard to remedy'.
Did you expect to make a so few mistakes?
'I didn't know I would score so many goals but I wasn't worried, I just wanted a better chance to show my talent than the one that I had with Torino'.
Who does deserve to be thank for your career?
'My family. My father Raffaele was a shoe fatory-worker and now has retired. When I made my debut with the major team, and I was 17, he said: 'Where do you hope to get with a so frail physique? Actually he was my first supporter and every Sunday he was there, at the stadium, to watch me. He gave me many advice and helped me to discipline myself. At the beginning of my career I was a little rebel, but later he taught me to sacrifice myself for the team. Then we have my mother Rosa, my 1 year older brother Nicola, and two sisters, Mena who is 29 and Matilde who is 22. They are my first fans. My mother says that now, at Aversa, my homevillage, she is known as 'the mother of the champion. Maybe these are little things, but they make me proud'.
Do you consider yourself a champion, also as a man?
'I'm very sensitive but also too touchy'.
Do you still have fun playing football?
'Yes, my passion is still unbroken. Even if I wasn't so succesfull I would be still playing in the minor divisions. However now I'm a professional and football is not just an hobby, it's my life'.
Have you ever thought to play with the National Team?
'Until Sacchi was the coach I could have some hope. Tommasi, Conte and Pessotto made their debut with him, and Ambosetti and Di Francesco were said to be the next ones. However, with Maldini, I think that an outsider like me won't have the same opportunities'.
Have you ever had a model?
'Vialli was my idol. A real gladiator inside the goal-mouth. When I was younger I just wanted to become like him'.

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