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Remembering Dino Da Costa, European winner with Fiorentina and Roma

As Roma play the Conference final, a look at a player who won European trophies with Fiorentina and Roma, in one season


Tonight, Roma return to compete in a European final after 31 years, and the new Europa Conference League competition is where Fiorentina will compete next season. Fiorentina and AS Roma, have both won just one European trophy each, and both of those came in the same season, 1960/61.

Roma’s win came in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, seen as the forerunner to the UEFA Cup, but while it is regarded by FIFA as a major trophy, it had no connection to UEFA. Fiorentina won the very first European Cup Winners’ Cup, which at the time wasn’t run by UEFA, but it soon came under their control, and our victory was then officially recognised as a major European win. This gives Fiorentina the honour of becoming the first Italian club to win an official European trophy.

There is another link between Roma and Fiorentina’s European success, which is a player who managed to win both of those trophies in that one season with the two different clubs. Dino Da Costa had arrived in Italy from Brazil in 1955, when Roma signed him from Botafogo, after the Brazilian club had played in Italy as part of a European tour. They defeated both Juventus and Roma, with Dino scoring in both games, and Roma saw enough to snap him up, thanks to the player having some Italian roots.

The forward made an immediate impact, scoring on his Serie A debut, and he also scored against Fiorentina in a 1-1 draw at the end of April. A week later Fiorentina were league champions for the first time. Da Costa was Roma’s top scorer in his first season with 12 goals, and the following season, despite Roma finishing in a disappointing 14th place, the Brazilian scored 22 goals, making him the Serie A Capocannoniere.

His good form continued through the 1957/58 season, which saw him called up to the Italian national team. On January 12th Da Costa scored in a 4-1 win for Roma over Juventus, and three days later he was lining out at Windsor Park in Belfast as Italy took on Northern Ireland in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Da Costa scored on his international debut, but in what is still seen as one of the darkest days for the Italian national team, Italy were beaten and would miss the World Cup finals. This would turn out to be Dino’s only ever appearance in an Italian shirt, on a day which also saw his Roma teammate Alcides Ghiggia shown a red card.

The 1958/59 season brought another goal scorer to the club, with Swedish striker Arne Selmosson from Lazio. Both players scored in the two derby wins over Lazio that season, Selmosson becoming the first player to score in the Rome derby for both clubs, while Da Costa is still the Roma player who has scored the most goals against their city rivals.

The following season Da Costa struggled for the first time since his arrival at Roma. Selmosson and another new signing, Pedro Manfredini, were now the main scorers, with Dino only netting two league goals. This saw him loaned to Fiorentina for the 1960/61 season, where he would play a major part in the club winning two trophies.

In March of 1961, Da Costa scored in a 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb, which saw Fiorentina reach the final of the first ever Cup Winners’ Cup. In April, Fiorentina travelled to take on Roma in the quarter final of the Coppa Italia. The home side took the lead before Da Costa scored the equaliser against his parent club, and Fiorentina came out on top in a thrilling game which ended 6-4 for the visitors. In the semi-final, Fiorentina hosted Juventus, with Da Costa scoring the final goal in a 3-1 win to see the Viola reach the final.

A week after that win, Fiorentina were in Glasgow for the first leg of the Cup Winners’ final against Rangers. Da Costa was a part of that team which claimed a famous 2-0 win at Ibrox, and ten days later Fiorentina finished off the job in Florence. That game took place on May 27th, and on the same day Roma were taking on another Scottish club, Hibernian.

This was the replay in the semi-final of the Fairs Cup, after the sides had tied 5-5 on aggregate. The game took place at the Stadio Olimpico, just three days after Italy had lost a friendly international with England at the same stadium. There had been two Roma players in the national side, Giacomo Losi and Francisco Lojacono, but they would have much better luck in their club’s clash with a British team.

In the Hibs team was a young striker, Joe Baker, who had scored in both legs against Roma. Despite the interest of Roma, it was Torino who had by now secured the player’s signature for the following season. After the sides had been so evenly matched in the previous two games, the replay was one-way traffic, as Roma ran out 6-0 winners, with Manfredini scoring four goals.

Da Costa’s last league game for Fiorentina came on June 4th, as Roma this time got the better of the Viola in Florence in a 1-0 win. That wasn’t the end of his Fiorentina adventure however, as a week later in the final of the Coppa Italia they would face Lazio in Florence. After Gianfranco Petris gave Fiorentina an early lead, the game failed to provide much more in the way of entertainment. In the second half the home crowd, despite their team leading the final, showed their disapproval of the performance with jeers and whistles reigning down from the stands. A late goal from Luigi Milan restored the fans’ enthusiasm, and as Alberto Orzan lifted their second trophy that season, Da Costa and his teammates were celebrated by the Viola crowd.

Dino Da Costa still had two more games to play with Fiorentina, which would come in the Coppa delle Alpi. This was just the second running of the tournament, and those first two editions saw eight Italian teams face eight clubs from Switzerland. Each Italian side would face a Swiss team, home and away, and the winner would be the federation with the most points after the sixteen games were completed.

Fiorentina were drawn to meet Young Boys, and in the first game in Berne they suffered a 3-2 defeat, which would turn out to be the only loss by an Italian side in the competition. In the return game in Florence, on July 2nd, 1961, the Viola redeemed themselves with a 6-3 win where Fiorentina had taken a 6-0 lead, with Da Costa scoring the second goal in his final game for the club.

Once the Coppa delle Alpi was out of the way, Dino Da Costa was on his way back to Roma. Although we had now reached the 1961/62 season, the final of the previous season’s Fairs Cup had yet to be played. This gave Da Costa the chance of winning another trophy and he was in the starting eleven for the first leg at the end of September, away to Birmingham City. The English club had defeated Inter in the semi-final and had also reached the competition final in the previous edition, losing to Barcelona.

Roma took a two-goal lead thanks to goals from Manfredini, but the home side came back to snatch a 2-2 draw late on. Former Fiorentina player Lojacono had missed that game as he was expected to sign for Milan shortly and the club were unwilling to risk an injury. That deal didn’t materialise, and he was back for the return leg on October 11th. Da Costa, however, would miss out on the game at the Stadio Olimpico, having picked up an injury in Roma’s league win over Venezia three days earlier.

Lojacono and Losi were given permission to join up late with the Italian national side who were playing a World Cup qualifier in Israel just four days later. Roma won the second leg 2-0, and were presented the trophy by FIFA President, Stanley Rous. That game was played on a Wednesday afternoon, but still attracted a large crowd to the Stadio Olimpico. On the same day, Torino were in England to play Manchester City in a friendly game as part of the Denis Law deal. That former Roma target and opponent with Hibs, Joe Baker, scored a hat-trick for Torino, but his brother Gerry scored one of the City goals which gave them a 4-3 win.

That game before the final against Venezia turned out to be Da Costa’s last game for Roma, as he was sold to Atalanta shortly afterwards. Dino’s first two games for his new club came against Roma and Fiorentina. His debut in December saw Atalanta hold his former club Roma to a scoreless draw in Bergamo, and a week later, at the same venue, Fiorentina also failed to score in another draw.

The 1962/63 season saw Atalanta win their first Coppa Italia, still their only major trophy. Although Da Costa missed the final against Torino, he did score three goals in the previous four rounds to help them get there. Atalanta also reached the final of the Coppa delle Alpi, which by now had changed format and saw them take on Juventus in the decider. Played in Switzerland, Da Costa put Atalanta ahead after just eight minutes, and he had now scored in all four games they played in the competition. Juventus went on to win it however, in a 3-2 win where Omar Sivori scored the winner.

That turned out to be Dino’s last game for Atalanta, and he would soon be joining up with Sivori when Juventus signed him for the following season. Here he went on to win another Coppa Italia to add to those won at Atalanta and Fiorentina, and he later finished his career with a spell in Serie B at Verona and finally with Ascoli in Serie C.

That is the story of Dino Da Costa, the man who won two European trophies in one season with two different clubs. Although it wouldn’t quite be the same, maybe Roma can win the first ever Conference League tonight (just as Fiorentina won the first Cup Winners’ Cup) and Fiorentina could go on to lift it next season.