The Giuliani Enigma | Sports

Cover of Giuliano Giuliani, more lonely than a goalkeeper?
Cover of Giuliano Giuliani, more lonely than a goalkeeper?THE COUNTRY

The sky over Bologna was filled with rain clouds on April 22, 1990. The untimely afternoon witnessed the triumph of Napoli, champion of Italy for the second time led by Diego Maradona. Lagging behind the crowd of exultant players, Giuliano Giuliani, the winner’s goalkeeper, marched through the grass of the Renato dall’Ara stadium. Approached by journalists, he barely managed to utter a sentence under his breath: “This scudetto compensates for fifteen years of sacrifice.”

Giuliani’s laconicism, always dry, always melancholic, hid a childhood torn apart by the murder of his mother and a desperate desire for revenge. The man did not know at that time that that would be the happiest afternoon of the rest of his life. A week later, Naples would announce to him that they were not renewing his contract and that at 32 years old, with no further market in Serie A, there would be no other job option left for him than Udinese, in the Second Division. He also did not know that the clinical tests that would be carried out in the preseason in Veneto would diagnose him with an HIV infection. He barely had six years left of life, of elusive friends and companions, of shame, hiding and loneliness. Not to be lacking in hardship, they even investigated him for cocaine trafficking in an excessive police process. The Prosecutor’s Office ended up exonerating the goalkeeper of all charges in 1994. Too late. Udinese, warned by the scandal, never gave him the scouting job he suggested.

If time is an enigma, the weight of 15 seasons of professional football, like the value of a scudetto, are mysteries that only literature can decipher. Paolo Tomaselli, journalist for Corriere della Sera, did not want to miss this dark and fascinating investigation. His book, Giuliano Giuliani, più solo di un portiere (Editorial 66THA2ND) crossed the curtain and the taboo. In search of the truth, he pulled back the curtain of systematic oblivion that shut down the first and last known Italian footballers to test positive for AIDS.

The book, full of unpublished testimonies, says that it was Giuliani himself who confessed his suspicions to some relatives. He was infected – it was his conjecture – in November 1989. His wife had just given birth when he embarked on the charter that would take him and his companions to Maradona’s bachelor party in Buenos Aires, one of the chapters most delirious in the biography of the pagan god of Naples, the core of the mystery of a cursed among the cursed.

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