The whistler from Verona who refereed Vieri and Mihajlovic: «I had the best job in the world»

Alberto Castellani with Roberto Baggio’s shirt

It was one of the maxims of Ennio Flaiano: The Italian has only one real enemy: the football referee, because he makes a judgment. From the other end of the world Eduardo Galeano didn’t deviate that much: His job is to make himself hated. The only unanimity of football: everyone hates it. They always boo him, they never applaud him. Lando Buzzanca, with the whistle of Carmelo Lo Cascio, made us a memorable parody. Anything you want, but such Alberto CastellaniVeronese from Borgo Venezia with about fifteen matches in Serie A and over a hundred in Serie B, don’t say that being a referee is the most thankless job in the world: Macch, if anything the best work – he replies -. Do one thing you love; with the utmost respect for those who do them, the thankless jobs are quite different.


The love for the ball and the job as an employee

The eldest of four brothers, he grew up on bread and football at the Piccoli field of San Pio X where dad Mario, shoe dealer in Verona, in the seventies referee at the Csi tournaments: I still have the memory of my father in black uniform and whistle in his mouth; it was a party. Love for football, and for Hellas Verona, he was the one who passed it on to me. Alberto plays left-back for Olimpia Montorio, he graduates in Accounting, and when he returns from military service in the infantry in Casarsa della Delizia in 1984, he enters as clerk to Acon, the Mash brand company: I stayed there for 35 years and I thank the owners, Giuliano and Federico Ambrosini, for helping me grow and allowing me to cultivate my passion for football, he explains.

Your beginnings as a referee

In 1984 he plays again; when for him, thanks to a knee problem, he has to stop, a new opportunity opens up for him: A friend asked me to be a referee. Mindful of my father, in March 1985 I enrolled in the referee course. The designator, Giorgio Guardini, saw that I knew how to run and whistle loudly on the pitch; he recognized my potential and trusted me. One year in the province, then the transition to the regional level and at 26 to the inter-regional level; Alberto is appreciated and forges ahead: I remember a Primavera match in Turin with Bobo Vieri on the field, I was also called up to the final stage of the Viareggio tournament, so I went up to Serie D and after three/four years to Serie C, where I took the place of Massimo Ferro (he was the Senator of the Italian Republic from 2018 to 2022, ed). In the years in which two Veronese whistlers, Carlo Sguizzato and Gianni Beschin, distinguished themselves on prestigious stages, Alberto cut his teeth in the scorching fields of the C series, often in the South: Wonderful years. The fields are all difficult, it depends on the personality of the referee. Only you can lose control of the game.

Serie A matches

The promotion, on 20 September 1998 with the debut in Serie B in the Cremonese-Fidelis Andria match: Collina, Cesari, Braschi, Racalbuto, Rosetti, Rizzoli: The best generation of judges ever. I was getting on in years, but I was believed to be reliable. On 28 November 1999 he refereed the first match in Serie A, Lecce-Venice: Everything is fine. The second was Lazio-Udinese at the Olympic stadium; in that Lazio full of champions he played Sinisa Mihajlovic. What a player and what a personality!. Referee in Serie A and B for 7 years, fourth official in the Champions League, the last whistle in the top category in Siena on 2 February 2005 for Siena-Cagliari: I stopped due to age limits. I started late, my career was concentrated in about twenty years; I was around for a while as a referee observer, but it wasn’t for me.

Baggio’s shirt

Married to Daniela since 2006, two sons, Edoardo and Leonardo, since May 2021 Alberto Castellani immersed in a new adventure in Verona: I am the administrative manager of the Platys Center, five hectares, in full environmental sustainability, used for sport and people’s well-being. If you ask him who was the best whistler, he doesn’t have the slightest doubt: Collina, with a unique charisma, was head and shoulders above everyone else. And the footballer? Again, the answer is easy for him: Roberto Baggio. I have his shirt framed at home. Having said that it is the dream of every referee to direct a world final like Argentina-France (The most beautiful ever), Castellani has clear ideas on how to referee: Abroad there is less whistle and more play; I’m in favor of the Var, but it should be limited to those situations that the referee missed. Then I see conceding penalties too lightly. Oh yeah, the old Boskov law still applies to him: Penalty when the referee blows his whistle. Unappealable.

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January 9, 2023 (change January 9, 2023 | 10:25 am)

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The whistler from Verona who refereed Vieri and Mihajlovic: «I had the best job in the world»