Very few television shows can boast the kind of cult following that Football Italia enjoyed throughout the 1990s. Tucked away on a Sunday afternoon, the show was fronted by James Richardson between 1992 and 2006 and provided a detailed overview of top-flight Italian football. The first show attracted three million viewers, and although these figures slowly began to dwindle towards the end of the decade, it remained staple viewing for Serie A fanatics.
The league introduced a number of fascinating characters to the British audience, with many of these iconic sides also famed for their eye-catching jerseys and colourful memorabilia. Italian football's golden era is fondly remembered by many fans, and those who enjoyed the show can now reminisce with like-minded individuals at Golazio, a new South London bar inspired by the weekly broadcast.
Live football on terrestrial television was fairly uncommon during the early 1990s, and with the Premier League still in its infancy, Football Italia provided the perfect outlet for sports fans to get their weekly fix. A large number of fans still look back on the show with genuine fondness, praising everything from the catchy theme tune to the legendary commentaries of Peter Brackley. There were just so many aspects of the show that made it essential viewing.
While the majority of those memories have been restricted to pub corners and online message boards, there is now a dedicated place for fans to share their recollections of the weekly highlights show. Golazio opened to the public in mid-2018 and was an immediate hit with Italian football connoisseurs. They have collected a vast array of memorabilia: copies of Gazzetto Dello Sport line the ceilings, and various football strips from clubs such as Torino, Sampdoria and Parma adorn the walls.
Generous benefactors have donated signed shirts and matchday programmes from the 1990s, all of which are distributed among the tables. Golazio also serve craft Italian beers and authentic thin-crust pizzas to their football-mad punters.
The huge mural of Paul Gascoigne sporting Lazio colours is just one of many novelty items that make visiting the bar a truly unique experience. The big screen also regularly shows classic matches from the Italian top flight, while the likes of Tony Dorigo and Mark Hateley have popped into the bar to conduct live Q and A sessions.
Serie A still has a substantial following these days and the big games - such as the Derby d'Italia and Derby della Capitale - remain some of the most popular. The latter is one of the most fiercely contested match-ups in the division, and the latest instalment saw Lazio beat their city rivals 3-0 at the beginning of March. The determination of Simone Inzaghi's side shone through - they're still in with a chance of reaching the European spots this season, pegged 3/1 in the latest Serie A betting to finish in the top four. The league still has a sense of appeal for Golazio fans, as the majority of the teams who were prominent in the 1990s remain in the top flight (although the division has been dominated by Juventus in recent years). The likes of Foggia, Cremonese and Lecce are all now plying their trade at a lower level, but Parma's resurgence has seen them recently return to the top flight following a prolonged absence.
Whether you regularly watched Football Italia during the 1990s or you're an avid bettor on the Serie A today, Golazio is a must-visit. It offers the perfect place to reminisce and reflect upon some of the greatest players, finest goals and most dramatic moments in the history of Serie A.