UEFA Europa League contenders SS Lazio were among the clubs who this weekend commemorated the centenary of the birth of Italy legend Silvio Piola, who was born 29 September 1913.
The former striker, who died in 1996, is the Serie A all-time top scorer with 290 goals. He played for the Biancocelesti between 1934 and 1943 and scored 143 goals. During the 0-0 draw against ACF Fiorentina on Sunday, Lazio wore a retro shirt designed in honour of Piola with a dedication to the 1938 FIFA World Cup winner on the sleeves.
Lazio, supported by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), also held an exhibition dedicated to Piola at Stadio Olimpico between Friday and Sunday. "He is still in the heart of all of us," said FIGC president Giancarlo Abete during the first day of the exhibition.
"He wrote wonderful pages in the history of the Italian national team leaving unforgettable memories for all the football fans. I'm sure the legend of Piola will continue to live among the next generations."
Current Lazio striker Sergio Floccari, who scored two goals in as many minutes in the 3-3 draw at Trabzonspor AŞ in UEFA Europa League Group J on Thursday, added: "In front of a champion of Piola's calibre I feel really small. I am very happy to be here and to have the honour of holding this shirt in my hands."
Scorer of 30 goals in 34 games for Italy, Piola started his career with FC Pro Vercelli before playing with Lazio, Torino FC, Juventus and Novara Calcio where he retired aged 40 in 1954. Both Pro Vercelli and Novara named their stadium after him. With Pro Vercelli he also scored six goals in a 7-2 win against Fiorentina in 1933, a Serie A record levelled only by Omar Sivori in 1961.
Before kick-off at the Olimpico Stadium, Piola's daughter Paola handed Lazio captain Antonio Candreva a commemorative shirt with the No9 while the giant screen at the stadium was showing pictures of the former striker. Lazio fans, meanwhile, unveiled a banner saying: "100 years of history. Happy birthday unmatchable Silvio Piola," which was also a message to AS Roma captain Francesco Totti, who is second on the Serie A all-time scoring list with 230 goals.
The Giallorossi forward scored two in the 3-0 win against FC Internazionale Milano on Saturday. He has recently extended his contract until 2016 but surpassing the legendary Piola remains "almost impossible" according to the 36-year-old.
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