Meo and Berto Mendi, the legendary brothers who made Vicenza football great

VICENZA – With his witty pen, Gianni Brera he depicted with these strokes Roman: “He had it chestnut forbidden, a sober style, a fantasy suitable for shooting, which did not need various flourishes.’ And with his sincere affection, Ezio Vendrame ideally he addressed Umberto in this way: “To this good man with great humility, to this huge football teacher who today teaches individual technique in angels, holding him tight in my heart I would like to make him feel how much I miss him and how much I loved him.” He wrote everything else John Poggilawyer and journalist from Vicenza, in a factual book with a subtle and meaningful title as the minds were: Meo and Berto (Gino Rossato Editore), two brothers who made the Vicenza football. And not only that, since one was immortalized by the tragic saga of Grande Torino, while the other also wore the jerseys of Juventus and Milan.

The Minds I, II, III, IV

In fact, Mario, born in 1913, also wears the red and white jacket, followed by Umberto in 1916 and Romeo in 1919: respectively. Minds I, Minds II and Minds IIIin the paintings of the 1930sVicenza Football Federation (where in the following decades a Menti IV, i.e. their nephew, will appear Luigi, son of the first-born Pietro). But after the departure of the major in the group they remain only Berto and Meoboth beginners at 16 (and 28 days the first and 3 days the second), to keep up the last name of the family. All seven siblings, born to father Luigi Menti and mother Maria Rosa Perozzo, who meet in Cadore where he is a gamekeeper and she is a guard on the king’s estate Vittorio Emanuele II.
To reward him for his good work, the sovereign gives some gold coins to his trusted servant, who at that point proposes to his girlfriend. From there the wedding and the return to the capital Berico, where first the couple and then the widow run a tavern and then a cafe. All in one building: below the club, above the house and in front of the pitch. “For siblings, access to the playground with their peers is also facilitated by the fact that there is no fencePoggi notes, taking readers on a nostalgic trip to the genuine sport of those heroic years.

The two wings, separate careers

Just think of the ancient name of roles: Umberto on the left with the number 11, Romeo right with number 7. They play together only in the 1937/1938 championship, with Vicenza in Serie C. For the rest, two separate careers. First player and then coach is what will become for all sior Berto, as the author remembers: precisely Vicenza, where he will coach for twenty years between the glorious first team and the noble youth sector, but also Padua among others , Milan, Napoli, Juventus.
His story about the christening of Juventus, in 1935, after almost a century still brings tenderness: “When I left the underground passage, my legs started to tremble. And above all I trembled at the thought of having to replace the great Orsi, and was afraid of not succeeding at all. Next to me was Luisito Monti who immediately noticed my state of mind. he put his hand on my shoulders and said: Berto, don’t think about anything and you will see that everything will be fine. I felt reassured and played a great match. I also scored a goal and had two more. We won 4-0 and the debut was over. But how scared at first.”

The fatal Turin

Turin is also Meo’s destination, but in shore grenade. Romeo first arrives in 1941 from Fiorentina, with a business that brings the purple social coffers “up to 300,000 lire, almost four and a half times the price paid three years earlier in Vicenza,” recounts Poggi, describing him as the best post-war right winger: “Unerring penalty or almost (one miss in six shots from the spot), free-kick specialist, assist: there aren’t many like him in Italy.” In the 232 pages of the book they are summarized with wealth of detail all leagues, matches, results, goals. Inevitably, however, the final one of his career stands out: Toro’s third goal, scored from the penalty spot, in the Lisbon friendly, which Benfica won 4-3. It was supposed to be a party for his farewell to football Lusitanian Francisco Ferreira, on the other hand, is there tragedy for the massacre of the Invinciblesthe legendary group of Venetians by birth or adoption such as Captain Valentino Mazzola who had served in the Navy in Venice, the brothers Aldo and Dino Ballarin still celebrated in Chioggia, Virgilio Maroso to which the sports field of Marostitsa will be dedicated and in fact Romeo Lies in which the stadium will be called Vicenza.
All died and a total of 31 victims were killed during the return journey: at 17.03 on 4 May 1949, the three-engine Fiat G.212 of the Italian Air Line crashed in the fog of Superga.

Superga and that purple badge

The former technical commissioner Vittorio Pozzo he cooperates in identifying the players and recognizes Meo’s body from a detail: the badge of Fiorentina, his favorite team, on the lapel of his jacket. Meo died not even 30 years old and was buried in the monumental cemetery of Misericordia dell’Antella, on the outskirts of Florence. Berto died aged 85 in 2002, one hundred years after founding his beloved Vicenza, the city where his remains rest. Two brothers and now an award: the Romeo & Umberto Menti award, reserved for the best players, technicians and managers of the youth sectors of Vicenza’s football clubs.

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