On May 19 of this year Juventus appointed a new coach, but chances are, you don't know his name. Sure you recognise the face, the scarf, those trademark glasses, and more than a few may be all too familiar with the shrill whistles he lets fly when patrolling the touch-line.
But his name? Gino Delneri. That's right, the man we all know is Luigi Del Neri actually isn't, and doesn't like to be. So how can we all, including the official websites of every club he has coached, be so wrong?
The blame lies with Paolo Mazza, who, in 1966, was a scout for SPAL. Delneri worked for them in a warehouse but was given a trial and played for their first team. Writing a report for the player, Mazza said "Del Neri: A sixteen year old of great promise, perhaps a bit wooden, but plays the ball quickly"
The local press picked up the name, and used it in their match reports. His first matches were good displays, and he earned good marks in the "pagelle, " the tough Italian ratings system, which players care about even today.
Seeing the high marks, the young Delneri thought the mis-spelling of his name a source of good luck and remained silent, alerting nobody to the mistake. The name stuck, following him throughout his career, although referee's and the Lega Calcio use the correct spelling in all official reports.
When asked if it is Del Neri or Delneri, the man himself replied "my friends call me Gino". So a man who has coached in Serie A for ten years, at some of Italy's biggest clubs has managed to last 44 years with few people knowing his real name. Quite an achievement, but one that won't matter now that he sits on Italy's most famous bench.
Buon fortuna Gino.
This article first appeared on Il Tifosi
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