GONE, BUT NOT forgotten. We’ll always remember the days when Football Italia was a staple of our sporting weekend. To be honest, we wish it never went away.
1. The special “Football Italia” Channel 4 logo
There was the standard C4 logo, then the ball, and BAM — the green, white and red of the Italian flag. It had you hooked before the programme even started.
2. The theme tune
“Campionato. Di Calcio. Italiano”
At some stage, every self-respecting child of the 80s and 90s scored a goal in the playground and screamed “GOOOOOOOAL LAZIO!” We know now that the excitable commentator was screaming “Golazo!” but it’s fun the other way too.
3. Jimbo’s clobber
Football Italia would have been nothing without presenter James Richardson — and Jimbo would have been nothing without his clothes. This was as close as we ever came to fashion-forward Italian culture.
He had waistcoats…
Jumper, shirt and slacks…
An incredible beige suit (which was probably reserved for his meetings with Gianluca Vialli)
And a snazzy brown leather jacket.
Even when he lost the hair, Jimbo still oozed trendiness.
4. The food
So that’s what they have for breakfast in Italy! Without fail, Jimbo had some sort of morning pastry and a coffee while he flicked through the sports pages. We can’t remember ever seeing him eat them though…
5. The papers
There was something otherworldly about the pink pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport
6. Free Italian lessons
Sometimes they showed closeups of the paper and you got a free snippet of Italian text to study. Think this one is about Luther Blissett and a witch-doctor but we couldn’t be sure…
7. The subtitles
Let’s be honest, none of us were particularly good at the Italian bits so we needed the Italian-English subtitles. And Vialli was the man…
8. The table
In the dark pre-internet days, you needed this reassuring weekly update. How else would you know how Fiorentina were doing?
9. Goal of the month
You could ring up and vote for Bobby Mancini – and it only cost 39p per minute on the “cheap rate” (we never figured out when that was). Always had to ask the billpayer’s permission too.
Back in the days when he wasn’t making infuriating decisions about our national team.
11. The players
Remember this lot?
12. Jimbo’s mates
We’ll never forget the time he brought Elvis Costello to the Marassi for the Sampdoria-Genoa derby match.
14. And the time he pretended to be going for a wee…
15. And the time he went to a safari park…
16. And let a Mick Wallace lookalike pet his tiger…
Not a euphemism.
Man, we miss Football Italia. Bring it back.