A normal operation led to the death of the midfielder, who was 27 years old: the tests after his death led to the discovery of heart disease
On 21 January 1983, exactly forty years ago, Enzo Scaini passed away. He had just had knee ligament surgery in Rome: everything is fine. Instead, an hour after the operation, Scaini died. He was 27 years old. He had built a solid reputation especially in Serie B: from Friuli di Varmo, midfielder with a great physique and an explosive shot – today we would have called him an “invader” -, fifty goals in his career, had begun to get noticed in the Sant’ Angelo Lodigiano, where he met his wife Rossella, and from there he moved to Alfredo Magni’s Monza, with whom he came close to Serie A losing the famous play-off in Bologna against Pescara, then Campobasso, Verona, Perugia just relegated from Serie A, in 1982 at Vicenza. The glorious Lanerossi had quickly fallen to Serie C, and to recover he had bet, among others, on Scaini and Albertino Bigon. At the end of the season, a very young talent, Roberto Baggio, will also make his debut. Enzo plays 11 matches, scores 2 goals, one of which from a penalty against Arrigo Sacchi’s Rimini.
On 16 January 1983, Vicenza hosts Trento. “Scaio” must come out at the start of the second half after a clash with an opponent. Exams don’t bode well: ligament injury in the left knee. Lanerossi’s doctor sends him to Rome, to the Villa Bianca clinic, to Professor Lamberto Perugia – a mocking fate, precisely the name of the city where the family would later remain to live, the city that in October 1977 had experienced the tragedy of Renato Curi -, an orthopedic surgeon known in the sporting environment because Rocca, Ancelotti, Bettega, Scaini himself trusted him. A year earlier, in Perugia, he had had a knee problem, after arthroscopy Professor Perugia had decided not to intervene. This time it’s different, to rebuild the ligament you need an operation. Perugia has already made about two hundred.
Two hours under the knife, successful operation. His wife Rossella calls the office in Vicenza. Everything OK. Then after an hour another phone call, dramatic. “Enzo is dead, they say of cardio-circulatory collapse”. Rossella is left alone, with her young children Eva and Thomas. “An inexplicable death,” said Professor Perugia. An autopsy was arranged. “Cardiovascular failure under investigation”. An investigation is opened, entrusted to the deputy prosecutor Davide Iori. The expert report filed after the investigation speaks of “acute cardiovascular failure in a subject suffering from severe hypertrophic heart disease with evident signs of sclerosis”. Basically, Enzo would have died of a cardiac anomaly that should have even prevented him from playing sports, an anomaly never detected before, neither by the doctors of the teams in which he played, nor by those of the Villa Bianca clinic itself. The investigation by the judiciary, which lasted five years, ended with no convictions. Perhaps because “He wasn’t Paolo Rossi”, as Sergio Campana, then president of the Vicenza-based Assocalciatori, bitterly commented on the silence that enveloped the sad story of Scaini. “I was not Paolo Rossi. Enzo Scaini: the mysterious death of a forgotten footballer” is the title of an investigative book written by Giampiero De Andreis and Emanuele Gatto, who reconstructed the sporting and above all judicial events of Enzo Scaini. Because if justice can no longer be done, at least it must not be forgotten.
January 21st – 8.15pm
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