Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The AFL/VFL Italian team of the century was named last Thursday night, with 22 of the best Italian-Australian footballers named in a side captained by the Adelaide Crows' Mark Ricciuto and featuring four brownlow medallists and two hall of famers. Selection was open to a field of 148 footballers with either a parent or grandparent born in Italy, from which a shortlist of 50 was announced recently. While not eligible for an on-field spot for the team (his great-grandparents were his most recent Italian-born ancestors), footballing legend and high profile supporter of international footy Ron Barassi Jnr was named as coach of the side. The VFL/AFL Italian Team of the Century is as follows:
|B:||Frank Curcio (Fitzroy)||Stephen Silvagni (Carlton)||Len Incigneri (South Melb., Rich., Melb.)|
|HB:||Alessandro "Alec" Epis (Ess.)||Anthony Koutoufides (Carlton)||John Kennedy Jr (Hawthorn)|
|C:||Robert DiPierdomenico (Hawthorn)||Ian Stewart (Cervi) (StK, Rich)||Peter Matera (WCE)|
|HF:||Peter Riccardi (Geelong)||Alan Martello (Hawthorn, Rich.)||Mark Mercuri (Ess.)|
|F:||Phillip Matera (WCE)||Saverio Rocca (Coll.)||Brendan Fevola (Carlton)|
|Foll:||Steve Alessio (Essendon)||Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide)||Peter Pianto (Geelong)|
|I/C:||Sergio Silvagni (Carlton)||Tony Liberatore (Footscray)||Scott Camporeale (Carlton)||Joe Misiti (Essendon)|
Captain: Mark Ricciuto
Coach: Ron Barassi Jnr.
President: Frank Costa
Notable trivia around the team:
- The team includes two members of the AFL’s Team of the Century – full-back Stephen Silvagni and centreman Ian Stewart – who have been named in those same positions for the Italian team.
- Anthony Koutoufides, named in the Greek Team of the Century on account of his late father’s heritage, was also eligible for inclusion in the Italian team, given that his mother is Italian-born.
- Similarly Peter Matera, named in the Indigenous Team of the Century by virtue of his mother’s heritage, was eligible for selection for the Italian team as his father is Italian-born.
- The best-represented clubs are Essendon and Carlton, with five players each.
- The team includes a father and son pair (Sergio and Stephen Silvagni), as well as brothers Peter and Philip Matera.
- Four of the players in the side - Scott Camporeale, Brendan Fevola, Anthony Koutoufides and Mark Ricciuto - are currently still playing.
- The squad includes two 300-game players (Ricciuto and Stephen Silvagni), fourteen 200-game players and five 100-game players. The only player listed who failed to break the ton was Len Incignieri, with 97 senior matches.
- Incignieri was also oldest player on the list, the only one to have retired before World War 2 and the first Italian-Australian to captain or coach a senior team in the VFL.
The Italian Team of the Century was recently finalised after a marathon meeting of the eight-man selection panel comprising president Frank Costa, coach and chairman Ron Barassi, together with Kevin Bartlett, Brendon Gale, John Russo, Kevin Sheedy, Bob Skilton and Bill Stephen. The public announcement was made at a gala dinner at Melbourne's Crown Casino.
World Footy News