Friday May 4 2012
Remembering May 5, 2002

May 5, 2002, was one of the most memorable days in the history of Serie A. Antonio Labbate recalls the events of that afternoon when Juventus pipped Inter and Roma to the title.

“There is little to say, we’re enjoying this. This is for the disappointment of two years ago at Perugia and there is someone watching who was at Perugia…” It wasn’t just what Antonio Conte said as Juventus celebrated their 2002 Scudetto at the Stadio Friuli, it was the manner in which he spoke as his words screamed with a mix of satisfaction and vengeance.

The target for Conte’s rant was Marco Materazzi, the Inter defender who two years previously, according to the present Juve tactician, “acted with little respect” when his Perugia side beat the Old Lady 1-0 following a dramatic Umbrian rainstorm that saw Lazio crowned champions on the final day of the season. Now 24 months later, it was Conte’s turn to celebrate Matrix’s Nerazzurri Scudetto suicide.

The war of words continued over the next few days. “Conte should buy himself a new wig with his championship bonus,” blasted Materazzi. A jibe which the midfielder had a response for: “I’d like to remind Mr Materazzi that nobody uses wigs anymore. You can have a hair transplant now, but, unfortunately for him, brain transplants still don’t exist.”

Such animosity was to be expected following the unforgettable events of that Sunday afternoon of May 5. Hector Cuper’s Inter started the day in pole position to win their first Scudetto for 13 years, a point clear of Juventus and two ahead of Roma. By the end of it, Juventus were champions, Roma had moved up into second and the Nerazzurri were only left with the preliminaries of the Champions League.

Juventus, who took a gamble the previous summer with the sale of Zinedine Zidane and the recall of boss Marcello Lippi, started the afternoon brightly. Within minutes, David Trezeguet scored his 24th goal of the season – with no penalties – from only his 75th shot of the campaign on target to put the Old Lady 1-0 up at Udinese and a point clear of Inter. Soon after, Alessandro Del Piero doubled their lead.

With a victory already seemingly in the bag, all the focus moved to the surreal surroundings of the Stadio Olimpico where a section of the Lazio fans were urging Inter on – given the unappetising scenario of the Biancocelesti actually aiding a title triumph for Juventus or, much to their horror, city rivals Roma.

Former capital striker Christian Vieri, passed fit after an ankle issue, eased such fears for the Biancocelesti faithful on 12 minutes with a goal – celebrated by President Massimo Moratti with the sign of the cross – that sent Inter back to the top. Luigi Di Biagio did the same again soon after when he cancelled out Karel Poborsky’s temporary equaliser.

But Inter would only be virtual champions for another 10 minutes once the second halves began after a calamitous collapse which saw Lazio run out 4-2 winners. To make matters worse, Antonio Cassano gave Roma a 1-0 win at Torino to ensure second place for the Giallorossi.

“I am tired, fed up and angry,” stated Moratti. “Today no fan of Inter wants to hear words of consolation and I’m no different.”

A tearful Ronaldo, who would quit the club for Real Madrid just months later, added: “The bitterness for the title defeat was even greater because the finish line was so close. Disappointment seems to be my partner in life. In a matter of moments our dreams vanished, overtaken by reality which seemed even harder to believe.”

In truth, Inter had been on the slide in April and the turning point of the campaign came a few weeks earlier. A late strike at Piacenza by Pavel Nedved, who was given a free role as that campaign progressed, saw Juventus close the gap on the Beneamata after the latter’s controversial draw at Chievo. La Signora’s five-game winning streak at the end of the season was what made the difference and underlined their unique DNA. “They are a dragon with seven heads,” stated Giovanni Trapattoni. “You cut one off and another immediately sprouts up.”

While Juventus celebrated and Inter sobbed, Roma regretted. They were winter champions at the half way mark and looked good to win back-to-back titles until their death in Venice. “I have no doubts,” stated Fabio Capello. “We lost the title at Venezia. They were already relegated when we faced them, but we could only draw 2-2.”

Ten years later and Conte is in another Scudetto battle with his beloved Old Lady, this time from the bench and this time from the front. Gigi Buffon’s error on Wednesday night against Lecce opened up the title race yet again. And with Milan just a point down with two games left to play, there may be another palpitating last day showdown that could join May 5, 2002, into calcio folklore. It could be enough to pull your hair out.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
on the 8th May, 2012 at 8:11am
Go Inter! We can still get 3rd place. If not we'll be fine with Stramaccioni and a team of youngsters for next season.
on the 5th May, 2012 at 11:07pm
Vucinic and Quagliarella to settle it in Trieste for La Signora.I never want Inter to win but tomorrow will be different.Forza Juve!!!
on the 5th May, 2012 at 9:55pm
Ill always support Inter! although they broke my heart that day they made up for it with a series of successful campaigns and the treble! Inter will be back and stronger than ever! FORZA INTER!!!
on the 5th May, 2012 at 6:52pm
Thanks Moratti for letting the "Coyotes" win the Scudetto, hope you spend all the money that you take from 2009-2010 capaign and from the sales of Balotelli and Etoo, and buy a big morgue from skeletons you brought during this time, dudes like Forlan, Zaratte, Pazzo, Nagatomo... And even bigger one for old men like Lucio that coast us CL DQ. and also CL Q. for next year, Maicon that this year played as he had 30 Kilos of load on his shoulders. You should've build the team and nod destroy it.....
on the 5th May, 2012 at 5:36pm
Forza Inter!! can't believe it's been 10 years already. a lot has happened since then... :)
on the 5th May, 2012 at 3:29pm
I would disagree with "Long Island NY".

Even if Milan had most of their players at full disposal, you can't discount the fact that Juve play more as a team than Milan relies on Ibrahimovic 90% of the time.
on the 5th May, 2012 at 3:06pm
Good party... FORZA JUVE 2011/12 CAMPIONI
on the 5th May, 2012 at 7:44am
Conte needs to hold his nerve as well.. The scene of him holding his head after the Lecce equalizer is a little worrying. He was camping in the last third of the pitch and had his 5 defenders on the pitch even though Lecce was a man down! It was our least possession since first half of the season. He needs to be more attack-minded and confident that the defensive department will hold its own so we can win the title. Giach must play- the guy was on a roll why disrupt his momentum?
on the 5th May, 2012 at 1:26am
This has been a strange season, but very exciting! Inter's terrible start, winning streak then dip again, Roma's promise of great football overshadowed by inconsistancy, Juve turning a new leaf (but fans wary given the good start of previous seasons follwed by 7th place finishes!) and fighting to the end.
I hope this goes down to the last game, even if i would like to see Juve wrap it up asap.
On a side note, I think Collina was the ref in Perugia. That game should have been stopped!
on the 5th May, 2012 at 1:24am
congrats to juventus still being undefeated. BUT all you juventus fans dont get ahead of yourselfs. YOU know damn well that if AC MILAN would have had their best players for even half of the season, they would have already won the scudetto. Yes juventus beat milan more than once this season, but lets be real. AC MILAN would take them apart if they would of had their best players at their disposal
on the 4th May, 2012 at 10:42pm
Juventus still have the destiny of the Scudetto in their own hands and that's vital. If we beat Cagliari, Milan will have to beat Inter, as a draw would hand us the title. After years out of the title race, I am delighted that we have gone the distance and are still fighting for the championship with Milan. In September automatic qualification for the Champions League and a place in the Coppa final seemed impossible, but now we have the chance of winning the double. To the end the end.
on the 4th May, 2012 at 7:43pm
I have to laugh at Conte's response to Materazzi. 5th May 2002 was a beautiful day with Inter's comical collapse allowing a Juventus Scudetto. To add to the comedy, Roma overtook Inter as well!
on the 4th May, 2012 at 7:34pm
i love conte
on the 4th May, 2012 at 3:47pm
I remember that season well, both Inter and AC Milan were eliminated in the semi finals of the then UEFA Cup. At the stadium, there was more Inter flags then Lazio flags even though they were playing at home. Lazio fans didn't want Roma or Juventus to win the league title but didn't realise their team had other plans.
on the 4th May, 2012 at 2:08pm
Im afraid if we do not beat Cagliari on sunday i would say Milan have what it takes mentaly and with experience to take the title. theyve been there seen it and done it, this Juve hasint not yet. shame realy that it could come down to the Buffon Blunder! our efforts against the "lesser" teams comes into Question, I would take two scrappy 1 nil wins at this rate. but to be in this position after ther last 2 seasons it has to be put down as a good season for us.

Forza Juve
on the 4th May, 2012 at 1:29pm
A shame that Udinese secured safety in the last minute the week before, otherwise they would have had everything to play for May 5th, now they didnt.....

Still, Roma through it away themselves, only beaten twice that season but too many draws against smaller teams. Something Juve should remember as well this season if they fail this time around.
on the 4th May, 2012 at 12:00pm

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