May 16, 1910 . At the triple whistle of the referee the first smiles, the joy on the faces that eases the tiredness from the fatigue on the pitch. The final result is 6-2 .
It is the debut of the Italian national football team, and what a debut. It starts with a resounding victory against France (the first historical rival), a much more experienced national team than the eleven Italians who were at their first official appearance wearing the tricolor. At the Arena in Milan in front of 4 thousand spectators, to lead that formation, the captain Francesco Cali known as Franz , one who was a full-back, but if necessary he adapted everywhere. The coach and Umberto Meazza, the most prolific scorer of the match is the striker Pietro Lana , the first player to achieve a hat-trick with the national football team.
These were difficult years from an economic point of view. The shirt used is not yet the blue one , but white. It is said that for the first games the white was chosen for reasons of money (it cost 7 cents less). 28-year-old Cali (one of
the veterans of that Italy) came from Andrea Doria , the other team from Genoa. However, he gave him the first kicks at the ball when he was not in Italy, but in Switzerland . Young Franz lives in Zurichand it is there that he takes his first steps as a footballer, so much so that at the moment we can nostalgically attribute to him the label of “First Italians” in the history of Italian football.
Francesco Cali was born in Riposto in the province of Catania in 1882 , into a family of wine merchants.
The pirates, however, upset the life of the family. Pope Bruno decides to leave Sicily because the freebooters bring the company to its knees, to emigrate to Switzerland . It was in Switzerland that the young Franz learned to play football, so much so that he made his debut first with Fortuna Zurich and then with Geneva .. When the economic situation improves , the Cali decide to return to the Ligurian capital and Francesco himself was registered in Genoa , fresh champion of Italy.
After a year in the Rossoblu ranks, Francesco moved to the newborn gymnastics club Andrea Doria (the ancestor of the current Sampdoria) which had recently opened the football section. With the move to the other team from Genoa, Cali also becomes the first player to move to the club that would later become a great rival, today he would be a “traitor” in all respects.
In Doria, Cali becomes full-back, but a few years later he didn’t just play on the pitch. In fact, the handyman of the national team also plays the role of referee . At the time the referees were not chosen by the federation, but they were players indicated by their clubs. It was he who refereed the Turin City Cup final between Juventus and Milan in 1902. After extra time and again 3-3 and referee Cali decides to continue indefinitely . At that specific moment, without knowing it, he had invented the “golden goal” (which did so much harm to our national team at Euro 2000), but Milan is not there and the cup goes to Juve.
The newspapers of the timethey begin to make their predictions on what could be the useful formation for the birth of an Italian national football team. Among these is the young Franz.

Lettura Sportiva of February 27, 1910
Cali improves his performance over the seasons and, in 1910, the debut of the Italian national football team finally arrives. Cali was chosen as captain because he is the most senior and connoisseur of foreign languages ​​having lived in Switzerland, but also thanks to the disqualification of many players of the then very strong Pro Vercelli. The match is a goal celebration: 6-2.
Journalists of the Gazzetta dello Sport, on page 5, praise the resounding victory against the French favorites. Captain Franz is exalted:
“Cali yesterday confirmed his calm, safety and perfection of the game as the most worthy to fill the position of captain of our national eleven […] The audience applauding frantically Cali recognizes his value.
It is the first real sports article about our national football team . In that same newspaper there is also talk of cycling, the start of the second Giro d’Italia .
From that historical and nostalgic sports news article, a lot of time has passed. Thousands and thousands of pieces have been written concerning our own football, the national team and the performances of those Italians who are outside Italy but who hold high the honor of the country both from a sporting and a human point of view.Franz Cali was the first example of this .

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