On This Day: May 4th

On May 4th 1948 tragedy struck Italian football when nearly the entire Torino football team, including players, officials and journalists were killed. The Avio Linee Italiane Fiat G.212CP was carrying the team home from Lisbon, where they played a friendly match with S.L. Benfica in honour of the Portuguese captain, Francisco Ferreira. The plane however crashed into a retaining wall at the back of the Basilica of Superga which stands on Superga Hill in Turin, everyone on board was killed by the crash.

A few people including players did avoid the tragedy however; first team full back, Sauro Toma didn’t part in the trip due to an injury, reserve goalkeeper, Renato Gandolfi due to the coach’s request and the president of Torino, Ferruccio Novo due to influenza.

The Torino squad killed were the best team in Italy at this time having won five Serie A titles in a row, including the season of the disaster in which they were proclaimed champions two days after the crash. The tragedy also killed ten out of eleven starting players for the Italy national team, the winners of the two previous World Cup’s. The national side was persuaded to take part in the 1950 World Cup but would only travel by boat, a testament to how shaken they were in Italy by the events, the Italy side were knocked out in the first round this time however.

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