Back in 15th century Florence, a competition was first played between teams of 27 players representing the four “quartiere”, or districts of the city, and was called “Calcio Fiorentina”.
Fifty minutes in length, the game basically takes place on a sand-covered pitch, has no rules and teams are not allowed to make substitutions as they try to put the ball into the net by any means necessary and score a “caccia”. So violent is the contest that players through the ages have lost their lives in their pursuit of glory.
The modern version of the game, called “Calcio Storico”, is still played in the city and this weekend the four quartiere will once again do battle to claim local bragging rights for another 12 months. There is a strict no-foreigner policy in operation and even Jack Charlton would find it difficult to find stranieri (foreigners) eligible to play.
But we’ve ripped up the rule book once again in order to put forward five Premier League colossus who we think would have been a perfect fit to play in the world’s most violent game of football.
If you’re going into battle then who better than the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland star to lead you there? His Irish roots, channeling the brutality of Gaelic football and hurling, make him the perfect fit for Calcio Storico. Although there are seven officials present, the absence of VAR would leave “Keano” to his own devices and able to carry out Alf-Inge Haland style tackles without picking up so much as a verbal warning.
Whether the training facilities would be to Roy’s liking is another matter however, although the setting for the match in the Piazza Santa Croce pisses all over a wet Wednesday night in Piccadilly Gardens.
“There are too many bluffers at this club to get Man United back to the top." – Roy Keane.
— Ragi Mudde Vinay (@semperfiutd) June 21, 2019
Seeing Martin Keown stripped to the waist whilst wearing traditional costume below is enough to put anyone off their lunch, but the ex-Arsenal ironman, despite probably looking like the Genie out of Aladdin on acid, would certainly do a job and his no-nonsense approach would be appreciated by the capacity crowd in the piazza.
At the end of the match, the winning team gets to feast on a whole calf whilst getting totally bladdered. Many would say that this is a barbaric way to live in the 21st century but Martin, who looks as though he could have lived in a cave in his formative years, would see this as a real treat and much better than your usual “foreign muck”.
If we’re talking about cave dwellers then Brian “Killer” Kilcline is up there with the best of them.
Kevin Keegan was so scared of him when he was in charge at Newcastle United that it’s understood he gave “Killer” the captaincy at St James’ Park and allowed him to draw a large cock and balls on the back of all his big coats that he used whilst in the dug-out.
Kilcline would be happy to scoff on a raw calf never mind a cooked one and his Game of Thrones long flowing locks would not look out of character with the fashions that complement this form of the game.
When we talk about legends of the Premier League we don’t talk about Dutch hatchet-man Marco Boogers, but what we do talk about is the tackle the striker made in just his second game for The Hammers that nearly finished Gary Neville’s career.
He made a total of four appearances for the East London club and even after hanging up his boots in 2003, controversy has never been very far away. The Boogers prototype was born to play Calcio Storico and an opportunity has sadly been missed but we’re sure he would be right at home if the Florentines were to introduce a senior’s tour.
A bit of Yorkshire grit never goes amiss in any side so our final pick goes to former Leeds United midfielder David Batty. When Leeds won the last ever First Division Championship in 1992 manager Howard “Sergeant Wilko” Wilkinson had pace (Gary Speed), panache (Eric Cantona) and brutality with Batty doing the dirty work that Leeds were famous for throughout the early 1970s.
The Tyke Terrier will always be best remembered for his penalty miss against Argentina in France 98 and hating anyone who came from south of Headingley. His five foot eight frame, however, would have made him perfect for the Florentine fight fest using his ability to slip away from his marker and as long as there was some Yorkshire pudding to accompany it, he wouldn’t give a flying fuck how the post-match meat was served up.