Nicolò Nicolosi (footballer)
November 27, 2021
Nicolò Nicolosi ([niko'lɔ niko'lɔzi]; Lercara Friddi, 9 August 1912 - Catania, 3 May 1986) was an Italian football player and coach, with center forward and left wing roles.
In the thirties he distinguished himself as the first Italian raised in Libya to make his Serie A debut with the Lazio shirt. In the top flight he played, as well as with the biancazzurri, with Napoli and Atalanta, totaling 16 appearances and 5 goals. He had a longer and more incisive experience in Serie B, long linked to the fate of Catania: between 1934 and 1940 he played 126 games and scored 45 goals. He was also called up with the Italian university team.
Known by the nickname of Cocò, the Catania press also nicknamed him Motorino, together with his team mates in attack Sorcetto Mario Nicolini and Zanzarino Mario Bianzino. He is the best scorer in the history of Catania with 71 goals in 149 games between the league and play-offs, only approached by Giuseppe Mascara in the 2000s.
His coaching career is less famous, as it mainly took place in the regional amateur and youth leagues. The main experiences with first teams were with Palermo in Serie A and with Catania in Serie B.
Nicolosi was born in Lercara Friddi into a large family (in all he had ten brothers). His father, a notary, emigrated a few years later to Benghazi, for the Italian colonial policy, and took him with him. He returned to his homeland to study at the University of Rome. News reports from the 1930s describe him as tall, elegant, educated, with straight hair and black eyes. Even afterwards, his fame as an athlete-gentleman remained.
He tied himself to Catania, which was the second - and the longest - Italian stage of his sporting career and where he returned after World War II. There he married, in 1948, with Agata Cosentino, with whom he would have two daughters. Marina was born in 1950, later married to Doria, who would become a poet and musician; the second child was Cecilia, artist and teacher. In his adopted city it was so popular that in 1951-1952 a team called Cocò Nicolosi, in honor of him, was entered in the Boys' Championship.
Passionate about the theater, he acted himself and met both Angelo Musco and Turi Ferro, both actors from Catania. He was later an official of the regional forest inspectorate. He died on May 3, 1986 from an incurable disease that had seized him two months earlier.
Left-handed, left winger or center-forward, gifted with speed and fine dribbling, he was skilled in dribbling, effective sidelines and loved by the Catania public. He was a sprinter: he could run 100 meters in 11 seconds flat. The qualities for which he entered the Lazio tour were his sprint, his shot and his vision of the game. However, he did not manage to break through in the top flight; in Naples they recognized his speed and sagacity, which they nevertheless judged not very fruitful.
The beginnings and the arrival in Catania
In Libya he started playing football with the Benghazi Fascist Youth Avant-garde, with whom he won the Cyrenaica championship. Cocò Nicolosi was then hired by Lazio at the age of 17. The coach of the first team, Ferenc Molnár, included him in the squad participating in Serie A and allowed him to make his debut on March 15, 1931 in Casale-Lazio (0-2), a match in which he scored the second goal. He also played and scored a goal on the following day, against Pro Vercelli, but then he never went back to wearing the blue and white shirt, except in the Second Division with the reserve team. In 1932-1933 his Lazio youth coach, Lajos Czeizler, took him to play for Catania.
During his first season he made two hat-tricks and scored the 2-2 goal against Juventus in a friendly match. In 1933-1934 the new coach Géza Kertész gave him less space in the first round, but