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In the Mud of the Holy Football


I bought a book, entitled “In the Mud of Holy Football“,  a few years ago and it really opened my eyes about football. A must-read for all football fans.


Carlo Petrini was quite a successful player in Italy’s first and second leagues at the turn of the 70s and 80s. He played in quite big teams, like Milan, Torino, Roma and Bologna. He enjoyed periods of fame and glory, as well as darker times which led him to be disqualified for the famous  “Totonero” betting scandal, together with famous names like Paolo Rossi, Bruno Giordano, Pino Wilson, Beppe Salvoldi, Lionello Manfredonia and many others (unfortunately …). He then sank into oblivion. Seriously ill, almost blind and, with death approaching, after a terminal medical diagnosis, he decided to spill the beans.

I want to tell my story to my children. They think they already know it, but it’s not true.

In “In the Mud of Holy Football”, Carlo traces his career from the glory days to the ignonimous end, providing unpublished, behind-the-scenes details about the First League. He gives full names and fearlessly describes what he saw and heard. He tells us in detail how matches were fixed, what players said to each other, their relationships with referees. People like Bettega, Boniperti and Zoff must have been horrified by this book because they figure repeatedly, in one way or another, in Petrini’s stories.

While I reread some parts of the book before writing this review.

When it was published, “In the Mud of Holy Football“, caused a sensation. But not for very long. Because it was soon “decried” as a load of “bullshit”, written by a former player, almost blind, who had fallen on hard times, hoping to make money by “spitting in the plate where he had eaten”. I don’t buy into that point of view. First of all, because people who are desperate, near to death, as Petrini was when he wrote the book, are the only ones who can ever shed some light on great mysteries. Secondly, because Petrini’s stories are precise, specific, rich in details, certainly not the work of an attention-seeker.

I need to get this off my chest, to offload all the misery that has been weighing on me.   After all, I no longer have a reputation to save.   All I want is to be completely honest.   Now I can tell everything because I have nothing left, nothing at all is left to me

Obviously, you can’t take everything at face value, not even what Petrini has to say, but after reading “In the Mud of Holy Football“, I changed my outlook. Especially as concerns football. I began to ask myself questions and to seek clarity, without allowing the scarf of my favourite team to blindfold me. All in the interests of the sport I love so much.

If you have time, why not listen to a moving interview (below) between Radio Radicale and Petrini himself, in which he tells some of the stories described in the book.

If you would like to buy the book, you can do it here:



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