First oriundo--Raimundo Orsi

On this blog, I write mainly on Italian football--its history and its present, its insiders, but also its outsiders, those who enjoyed fleeting glory, or those who remained on the periphery.  In general, I try to contextualize current events of Italian football in a historical perspective, foregrounding issues of national and sporting identity.

The name

Oriundo (when used in Italian) /o'rjundo/ (adj): having Italian ancestry, to be of Italian extraction.

Though the term oriundo is used both in Spanish and Italian in different ways, many have come to understand it in the context of Italian football. From the time Raimundo Orsi, an Argentinian by birth, played for Italy in 1929 to the more recent repatriations of Argentinean and Brazilian born players, the oriundo 'issue' has sparked both civil and raucous debate in Italy (and even beyond) about the constitutive integrity of the nation.

Those critical of claiming South American talent for Italy contend that the oriundi have tenuous links to Italy at best, and that they are taking the place of 'true' Italians.  Those in support of the oriundi, or at least those who are not opposed to them, recognize that naturalization in the name of football exists in several countries and in varying forms.

I capitalized on this anxiety of national identity, an anxiety that varies in intensity depending on the moment, by marking myself as even more of an outsider, as someone who has passionately followed and loved Italian football, Gli Azzurri, and Milan for most of his life despite being not even oriundo

Il Calcio and me

For many years, one of my indelible memories of Italian football was, in fact, mis-remembered.

Italia'90 had many moments that could lodge in a young football fan's mind.  There was Roberto Baggio's flight through the hapless team of what was then Czechoslovakia, or Salvatore Schillaci's bug-eyed celebrations after scoring a goal.  But the most enduring memory I have is of a tearful Aldo Serena sinking to his knees after missing a penalty against Argentina in the semi-final.

Not the dejection of Aldo Serena
The only problem is the man doing the sinking was Milan's Roberto Donadoni, who had missed a penalty before Serena.  I had, as I recently found out, unwittingly conflated Donadoni's dejection with Serena's; or, perhaps my Rossonero disposition had led me over the years to ascribe the most defeated gesture of that bitter penalty shoot-out loss to Serena, who was then at Inter and who had enjoyed his best years there as well.  Whatever and whomever, the net effect of Italia'90 and its pains and tears was that I was an Italy fan for life.

The rest is a confused history.  I have lived in various places over the years, and I currently reside in Toronto, but throughout my itinerant life, my love for Italian football, Gli Azzurri, and Milan has remained grounded.  I have been a calcio stalwart for over twenty-five years now, enjoying, obsessing over, and periodically defending from abuse the most sacred product of Il Bel Paese.

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